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Chicago Sues Glock for Pistols Easily Turned into Machine Guns

The lawsuit, filed with Everytown Law, alleges Glock has refused to make changes to prevent its pistols from being converted with “Glock switches”

Earlier this week, the City of Chicago, represented by Everytown Law, filed a lawsuit against Glock, the largest manufacturer of pistols in the United States, alleging that the company “endangers the health and safety of Chicagoans” by producing and selling semi-automatic pistols that can easily be converted into illegal machine guns with small, cheap devices commonly known as “Glock switches.” The lawsuit is the first to use Illinois’ new Firearms Industry Responsibility Act, which was enacted in 2023 to hold gun companies accountable for conduct that endangers the public.

To learn more about “Glock switches” and how they work, click here.

LAWSUIT DETAILS

According to the complaint, law enforcement personnel in Chicago have recovered over 1,100 Glock pistols illegally converted into machine guns in the last two years alone in connection with a wide variety of crimes, including homicides, aggravated assaults, batteries, kidnappings, burglaries, home invasions, carjackings, and attempted robberies.

The complaint alleges that Glock has known about the easy convertibility of its pistols since at least 1987 — when the company’s founder, Gaston Glock, met with a “Glock switch” inventor — but has so far refused to rectify the problem by, say, redesigning its weapons. The lawsuit alleges that “Glock’s willful decision to not take any meaningful action to address this problem in its sales to civilians—despite its awareness” is an unfair business practice, is negligent, and creates a public nuisance. Further, the lawsuit alleges that Glock is aiding and abetting violations of the federal and Illinois prohibitions on the possession of machine guns.

While Glock has said that it has “collaborated with law enforcement officials to target illegal sellers and users of switches,” the company claims that its pistols “cannot be altered” to “make it harder to attach switches.”

Chicago is seeking a court order requiring Glock to cease selling its easily converted pistols to Chicago’s citizens until the company fixes the problem, as well as penalties and damages for the harm Glock has allegedly caused the city.

The PROLIFERATION OF “Glock Switches”

About the size of a quarter, “Glock switches” are easy to purchase online for around $20 or to manufacture using 3D printers, though it’s illegal for civilians to do so. Machine guns have been highly regulated since 1934, and civilians cannot own machine guns, or the parts used to create them, manufactured after May 1986.

Once installed on the back of a Glock’s slide, such “switches” allow a pistol to fire up to 1,200 rounds per minute — a rate as fast as, or faster than, many fully automatic machine guns used by the U.S. military.

In addition to Chicago, the lawsuit details how police around the country, such as those in Dallas, Columbus, Louisville, St. Louis, and Oklahoma City, have seen a dramatic rise in crime guns converted into machine guns, including Glocks modified with “switches,” in recent years. Nationwide, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has reported a 570-percent increase in “machine gun conversion devices,” or auto sears, from 2017 to 2021 as compared to the previous five-year period.

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