DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Central District of California

For Immediate Release

Thursday, January 11, 2024
E. Martin Estrada
, United States Attorney

U.S. Attorney and ATF Release New Public Service Announcement Warning Against Possession of Machine Gun Conversion Devices

LOS ANGELES — The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) Los Angeles Field Division today launched a public service announcement designed to raise awareness on the dangers of machine gun conversion devices, sometimes known as “switches,” “chips” or “auto sears.”

The PSA features U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada and ATF Los Angeles leadership highlighting the dangers of using illegal conversion devices in firearms and how possession of these devices can lead to federal prosecution and incarceration.

“In the last five years, ATF has recovered more than 31,000 machine gun conversion devices,” said ATF LA Field Division Special Agent in Charge Christopher Bombardiere. “These devices are not gun accessories. They are illegal and considered machine guns under federal law. This current machine gun conversion device trend is similar to what we saw when ghost guns emerged more than a decade ago.”

“Protecting the public is our priority and gun ‘switches’ pose a real danger to the community,” said U.S. Attorney Estrada. “Simply possessing a conversion device can carry a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, and law enforcement is committed to eradicating them for everyone’s safety.”

Conversion devices can convert semi-automatic pistols and rifles into fully automatic weapons in less than 60 seconds. One pull of the trigger can release all the ammunition in the magazine.

The PSA encourages the public to contact the local ATF office if they know someone making, selling or possessing a conversion device. Individuals are also encouraged to contact an ATF office if they need to safely dispose of a conversion device.

Conversion devices are advertised using misleading names and deceptive descriptions intended to avoid detection by law enforcement and defeat protocols used by internet vendors. Often the devices are advertised with the assertion that the purchase and possession of the devices is lawful. This is not true. A conversion device just on its own is considered an illegal machine gun under federal law and cannot be possessed, even without a pistol or rifle. Both the National Firearms Act and the Gun Control Act regulate machine guns.

The definition of a machine gun under 26 U.S.C. § 5845(b) and 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(23) includes:

  • Any weapon which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot, automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger.
  • The combination of parts designed and intended for use in converting a weapon into a machine gun.

The 60-second PSA:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pnlJ6HMpkMI

The 30-second PSA:  https://youtu.be/XFw7abax_EM

The 30-second radio PSA:  https://atf.widen.net/s/sg9mltzxk9/california-psa-30-sec.-radio-spot

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Los Angeles Field Division