ATLANTA — It’s a normal gun, but a device the size of a Lego allows it to fire all the bullets inside with just one pull of the trigger.
It’s called a switch, and Channel 2 Action News has learned that they’re turning up all over metro Atlanta.
Switches are easy to find online and in pop culture. Some of the most popular hip-hop artists rap about them.
“Four Nick with a drum, a Glock with a switch,” raps PGF Nuk in “Glock with a Switch.”
They are the subject of countless rap songs.
“We pop out wit’ them Glocks now e’rybody got switches,” raps Lil Durk in “No Interviews.”
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“Switches on me, all face shots, we changing dental plans, brah,” raps Lil Durk in “AHHH HA.”
The small, illegal devices known as switches are machine guns. Attach one to a gun and it becomes automatic.
James Nash, Special Agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives gave Channel 2′s Michael Seiden a demonstration of a switch at a gun range in Newnan.
“So that little piece right there can be used to turn the Glock into an automatic?” Seiden asked Nash.
“Yes, as long as it has this with a frame, yes it can,” Nash said.
He showed how a switch can turn a Glock from firing a single shot to a spray of bullets.
“That’s crazy. It took like two seconds to fire 40 bullets,” said Seiden.
The ATF also let Seiden test out the firepower. With one pull of the trigger, he emptied the magazine in just a couple of seconds.
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Agents say switches are a serious threat to our safety.
Channel 2 Action News obtained body cam video from the Houston area where a suspect fired a barrage of bullets at police.
Investigators said the suspect used a switch to kill one officer and seriously injure another.
“You’re talking about a fire rate of over 1,000 rounds a minute,” said ATF Atlanta special agent in charge Benjamin Gibbons. “You cannot focus, singularly focus your aim. It’s going to put other rounds in other places.”
“Hey sarge, quick question,” an Atlanta police officer said on body camera video before a barrage of gunfire.
Police responded to gunshots in a Southeast Atlanta neighborhood on New Year’s Eve.
They found 16 guns along with a switch.
“It’s got a switch on it,” said an officer on body camera video.
Channel 2 Action News obtained dash cam video from the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office that shows a chase.
It ended at a house where deputies found a half dozen switches.
“Law enforcement in general is seeing these almost on a daily basis,” Nash said.
Channel 2 Action News found police reports that mentioned switches found in Clayton, DeKalb, Cobb, and Gwinnett counties.
The ATF said it has 39 active switch cases in Georgia.
But the most prominent incident happened in May 2022, when Atlanta police arrested hip-hop superstar Young Thug.
Investigators searched his Buckhead mansion and discovered drugs and guns, including a Glock with a switch.
At the time of his arrest, his attorney told Channel 2 Action News that he was innocent of all charges.
“Thought it was a chopper, but it only was a Glock switch. Glock switch, Glock switch, Glock switch, Glock switch,” raps Lil Uzi Vert in “Sasuke.”
Seiden asked Atlanta rap legend Pastor Troy about the meaning of switches in hip-hop culture.
“What does it mean when rappers are talking about using switches and Glocks? Is it a status symbol? Is it a threat? What are they trying to do?” Seiden asked Troy.
“Everybody wants people to think they’re big and bad no matter what. You know what I mean? It’s almost like a security blanket man. I got this gun,” Troy said.
Retired Atlanta police gang detective Tyrone Dennis spent 16 years investigating gangs.
“Knowing that someone has a switch is basically saying, ‘Oh, God. He could spray me or spray after me.’ So, therefore, I don’t want to mess with this person,” Dennis said.
Switches are easy to find and cheap. They can be purchased online from China and Russia for as little as $20.
“It’s very scary because you don’t know where the rounds are going and you don’t know who else is going to get hit by it,” Nash said.
The penalty for possessing a machine gun without a permit is a mandatory 10-year sentence, with more time added when an additional crime is committed.
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