What is a Glock Switch? How a small device turns handguns into machine guns

On Monday, the Oakland County Sheriff announced a Pontiac man had been arrested for illegally buying and importing Glock Switches from Russia which turns the standard, legal, handgun into a much more deadly weapon.

A 9mm Glock is the most popular handgun in the United States and it's relatively simple: each time you pull the trigger, a single round is fired. But a Glock Switch changes all of that. 

What is a Glock Switch?

Randall Mullins is the manager of Top Gun in Taylor and explains that the small device just snaps in place.

"As a switch, it would just snap on to the back of the gun and switch it from semi-automatic to full auto,"  Randall Mullins, manager of Top Gun.

Mullins explained that a Glock isn't meant to fire at such a rate as he showed us how the Glock is made.

"It has a standard backplate…and a sear on the inside of the gun, which stops the gun from firing more than one round at a time as the trigger is pulled," Mullins said.

By putting the little device on top of the gun and opening the mechanism up, it turns the weapon into a machine gun. 

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard announced on Monday that Immanuel Gates was recently arrested for illegally buying and importing the switches. According to Bouchard, Gates is facing federal charges for the unlawful import of a firearm which means serious prison trim.

"It’s something that criminals are aware of - the dark net and different places, where they buy different things," Bouchard said. How a Glock is supposed to operate

How Gun Switches are imported

According to court documents, Gates, who is affiliated with a gang, bought the switches from a Russian website, and have them shipped over in a package labeled "spare lawnmower parts."

However, a gun owner must have a federal firearm license to own and operate a gun conversion switch.

"This is illegal with no additional laws needed," said Mullins. "It’s already an illegal item to have on your gun."

Federal agents seized a package allegedly making its way to Gates with 20 such devices inside.

Law enforcement tracked Gates from July 2020 through October 2021 and said he made multiple orders from the Russian website.

Gates is currently awaiting trial for the federal firearm charges and could be looking at 10 years in prison.