Metropolitan Police Department (DC Police / MPD)

Illegal Device Makes Semiautomatic Pistols Fully Automatic

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D.C. police are becoming increasingly alarmed over an illegal device called a giggle switch that can turn a semiautomatic pistol into a fully automatic machine gun.

In recent weeks, officers have found as many as five of them on the backs of pistols in two neighborhoods in Northeast.

“It’s a big problem; it’s a huge problem,” D.C. police Cmdr. Ramey Kyle said. “You know, guns are inherently dangerous, and with these switches, that’s magnified 10, 20 times.”

Earlier this month, police seized a Glock fitted with a giggle switch inside an apartment on K Street NE.

Last weekend, they found a cache of weapons during a traffic stop at a gas station on Bladensburg Road.

“We do know that they are being manufactured overseas and then also here in the U.S.,” Kyle said. “They are being made by private individuals with 3D printers.”

The switch is easy to put on, and videos on YouTube show how it can be done.


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“It’s scary; it’s absolutely scary,” Kyle said. “It’s scary for our officers that are out there recovering these firearms. It’s scary for the citizens, you know, these switches, these handguns are being used in their community.”

In a statement to News4’s sister station in Los Angeles, handgun manufacturer Glock said, “Glock has been working closely with the authorities and ATF to provide support.”

D.C. police said video evidence shows at least one murder in the city has been committed with a handgun outfitted with the giggle switch.

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