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N.J. among attorneys general looking into Glock machine gun conversion

The piece is listed for sale online at a cost of $150 to $160.

  • State

Matthew Platkin is one of a dozen attorneys general who signed a letter to Glock Inc. asking the company to preserve all evidence related to its line of Glock pistols that allegedly can be easily converted into illegal machine guns.

The letter from New Jersey's attorney general and 11 others comes in the wake of Chicago lawsuit against the gunmaker alleging Glock has known that the guns can be turned into machine guns with the addition of an auto sear — a cheap, small device commonly known as a “Glock switch.” 

These makeshift machine guns have become “a weapon of choice for criminals in Chicago,” the city said in its tuit filed a week ago.

Glock has known that the ability to carry out this do-it-yourself conversion is built into its handgun design, and has refused to make meaningful design changes to fix this problem, the lawsuit alleges. Chicago is seeking a court order requiring Glock to end sales of these guns to Chicago civilians and to put in place reasonable controls, safeguards and procedures to prevent their unlawful possession, use and sale.

“Turning a pistol into a deadly machine gun should not be as easy as fitting Lego pieces together,” Platkin said. “If Chicago’s allegations are true, it would be difficult to think of a better example of a company choosing bloody profits over public safety by ignoring more responsible design choices. Numbers don’t lie, and these modified weapons are being recovered by law enforcement at levels that are frankly shocking.”

Glock switches allow pistols to fire as many as 1,200 rounds per minute, a rate as fast as or faster than many fully automatic firearms and machine guns used by the U.S. military, according to the lawsuit. 

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives reports that more than 5,400 machine-gun conversion parts were seized between 2017 to 2021, a 570 percent increase from the prior five-year period.

“Machine guns have been heavily regulated and restricted for decades because of their obvious lethality,” said Ravi Ramanathan, director the Statewide Affirmative Firearms Enforcement Office, or SAFE. “The allegations in Chicago’s lawsuit are disturbing and, if they are true, Glock is unreasonably endangering city residents by continuing to sell a firearm that can easily be modified for conversion into an illegal machine gun.”

Both New Jersey and Illinois have laws that seek to protect the public by holding gun companies accountable for their actions.

If Chicago’s factual allegations about Glock are true, the gunmaker's conduct “may also involve violations of our States’ laws. We will not hesitate to enforce our laws when they are violated.” 

To that end, the States are asking Glock to preserve all documents related to:

  • The modification of Glock handguns, through the use of switches, to fire automatically, including but not limited to those converted handguns’ use in crime or violence, impact on public safety, or prevalence.
  • How Glock pistols are designed and developed to function as a semiautomatic weapon, any efforts Glock may have taken or considered to reduce the capability to be converted easily, and the possibility of any design changes.
  • Glock’s knowledge about all state and federal laws relating to Glock switches and converted Glock machine guns, their legal responsibility as a manufacturer of these guns, and whether they followed these laws and met their responsibility.
  • Financial details about Glock pistols, including profits, manufacturing, and distribution costs, as well as expenses relating to alternative designs that were available or considered.
  • Any public marketing or advertising related to Glock pistols, including any claims about their safety, lethality, modularity, semiautomatic function, or the speed at which they fire.

 

The others attorneys general who signed the letter represent Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

SAFE is a first-in-the-nation office focused on firearms industry accountability. 

Platkin established The SAFE Office was established by Attorney General Platkin in 2022 to exercise the Attorney General’s authority under the firearms public nuisance legislation, P.L. 2022, c. 56, and to facilitate the efficient and effective administration of laws pertaining to gun violence.

author

Lynda Cohen

Lynda Cohen founded BreakingAC after working as a local newspaper reporter for more than two decades. She is an NJPA award-winner and was a Stories of Atlantic City fellow.

Monday, April 15, 2024
STEWARTVILLE
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