NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in the Nashville area is concerned about the rapid conversion of handguns to machine guns.

“I would describe this as dangerous,” said Assistant Special Agent in Charge Tommy Estevan.

It only takes seconds. The agency has been pursuing a machine-modifying device, more commonly known as a “switch,” that could give more power to a standard gun.

“It turns a semi-automatic weapon into a production gun,” Agent Estevan said. “So instead of a single round coming out of a gun with a single trigger, you’re seeing 1,200 rounds per minute pulled by a single trigger when the switch is pressed on the device.”

Assistant Special Agent Istavan explained that this type of weapon is being used more and more by criminals.

In mid-January, the Metro Police arrested six people, including minors, for possession of prohibited weapons. Investigations found guns seized from the Reds at each scene.

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“The amount of firepower in the hands of someone who intends to use it criminally is certainly concerning,” Agent Istavan said. “My concern is not only for law enforcement safety, but also public safety in our community.”

ATF has investigated as many as 112 cases in the past 2 years, mostly focusing on switches.

“It used to be unusual, these keys were seen on the west coast, but today we’re seeing more and more of these. I can tell you, from 2021-2022, we’ve seen a 40% increase in our jurisdiction here in Nashville, including the states of Tennessee and Alabama,” said Agent Istvan. He explained.

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The penalty for using one of these weapons by law enforcement is greatly increased, even if the weapon is never fired, simply having one can bring you serious charges.


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