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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Western District of Oklahoma
Robert J. "Bob" Troester, United States Attorney
For Immediate Release
Wednesday, November 29, 2023

United States Attorney and ATF Discuss Emerging Threat of Machinegun Conversion Devices

U.S. Attorney Launches New Initiative “Project Switch Off” to Combat Threat

OKLAHOMA CITY — Today, U.S. Attorney Robert J. Troester and ATF Special Agent in Charge Jeff Boshek provided a briefing on illegal firearm conversion devices, commonly known as “switches” or “auto sears” which convert semi-automatic handguns into fully automatic weapons (i.e., machineguns) in a matter of seconds.

According to the ATF, the number of devices recovered by law enforcement increased more than 500 percent nationwide between 2017 and 2021. In Oklahoma, the number of switches recovered by ATF increased more than 300% in just two years, between 2022 and 2023.  The rapid fire of firearms converted to machineguns presents a significant danger in our community to both the public and law enforcement.

Possession of these devices violates federal law as illegal possession of a machinegun and carries a penalty up to ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine. 

To directly address and combat this emerging threat, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has launched a new initiative “Project Switch Off” to target prosecutions related to these conversion devices and take illegal machineguns off the streets. This initiative is a local implementation of the Department of Justice’s Project Safe Neighborhoods.

The Project Switch Off initiative specifically includes: specialized training of law enforcement on the illegality of these devices under federal law and how to identify the many different types of conversion devices that exist; public education of danger and illegality of these devices; and the federal prosecution priority for those who illegally possess or sell these devices and the significant penalties they face. 

“The proliferation of machinegun conversion devices presents a clear and immediate danger to Oklahomans,” said U.S. Attorney Robert Troester. “Project Switch Off serves as a warning. My office will relentlessly pursue those who endanger the public and law enforcement by the illegal possession or use of conversion devices. We are glad to partner with ATF and local law enforcement in this effort.”

“These devices, in the wrong hands, can have catastrophic consequences. Through our partnerships with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Oklahoma, and state and local law enforcement agencies, we will continue to dial in and aggressively charge the manufacturers and distributors of these illegal machineguns,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey C. Boshek II. “Keeping these illegal firearms off the streets of Oklahoma and the citizens free from the fear of their usage is one of our highest priorities.”


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