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Texas News

Texas Launches Operation Kill Switch to Combat Illegal Machine Gun Conversion Devices

U.S. Attorneys across Texas have launched "Operation Texas Kill Switch" to crack down on illegal machine gun conversion devices, commonly known as "switches." These devices, about an inch long and often made of metal or plastic, can transform regular firearms into fully automatic weapons capable of firing rapidly with a single trigger pull.

At simultaneous press conferences throughout the state, U.S. Attorneys Leigha Simonton, Alamdar Hamdani, Damien Diggs, and Jaime Esparza, joined by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, & Explosives Special Agents in Charge Jeffrey Boshek and Michael Weddel, lambasted switches, which transform commercially available firearms into fully automatic weapons capable of firing faster than military-grade M4s.

“We’re here to talk about a roughly one-inch piece of plastic. It looks innocuous enough, a little like a lego or a k’nex block. But this one-inch piece of plastic is killing people,” U.S. Attorney Leigha Simonton said at Monday’s press conference. “Machinegun conversion devices can turn Second Amendment-protected firearms into illegal weapons of war, and petty criminals into brutal killers. We cannot have our streets turned into war zones. We cannot – and we will not – allow switches to proliferate in north Texas.”

“I have been in this business for a long time, and nothing scares me more than the rapid flood of machine gun conversion devices on the streets of Texas and beyond. Rest assured that ATF and its partners are doing everything we can to stop the flow of these things and to prevent the carnage they can create. I applaud our U.S. Attorney partners for their willingness to aggressively prosecute these criminals and gangsters” stated ATF Dallas Field Division Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey C. Boshek II.

About an inch long, switches may be made of metal or plastic and can be printed on commercially available 3D printers. They generally slot into the butt of a gun and allow the shooter to fire “full auto,” unloading dozens of rounds with a single pull of the trigger. (In contrast, regular semi-automatic firearms require a separate trigger pull for each round fired.)  To date, switches have been used in numerous fatal shootings, including at least one juvenile mass shooting and multiple police killings.

Except in very limited circumstances, possession of a switch is illegal, as the National Firearms Act classifies the switch itself as a machinegun.

Yet the number of switches recovered by law enforcement has risen dramatically in the past few years. Between 2017 and 2023, Texas-based ATF agents seized 991 switches; 490 of those, 50 percent, were seized just last year. They are often sold over social media, marketed to adults and juveniles alike.

At Monday’s press conference, the U.S. Attorneys announced that as part of  Operation Texas Kill  Switch, they are partnering with Crime Stopper programs statewide to combat the proliferation of these illegal devices.

From now until Aug. 31, local Crime Stopper programs will offer cash rewards for information leading to the apprehension or prosecution of those who possess switches or 3D printers being used to manufacture them. To be eligible for cash rewards, tipsters must provide information to their local Crime Stoppers program. Tipsters may also use **TIPS to be connected to a Crime Stoppers program in their area. Tips can be submitted 24 hours a day, and anonymity is guaranteed by law. Information may also be submitted directly to ATF at

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