CADDO PARISH, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – The New Orleans Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms recently trained ShreveportBossier violent crimes team to recognize semi-automatic handguns modified to become automatic weapons firing multiple shots at a time.

ATF officials said there is an increase of “Glock Switch devices” in Louisiana, Arkansas, and Mississippi.

A “Glock Switch” turns a firearm that shoots single rounds into a mini-machine gun that can fire dozens of bullets within seconds. Law enforcement said these guns were illegally imported years ago but are now made cheaper and more accessible with 3D printers.

“We’re seeing them used in crimes where they are being fired indiscriminately by gang members and violent offenders,” said Timothy Carroll, Special Agent New Orleans ATF.

He said criminals and the public are often unaware of the dangers of these altered guns, which are very difficult to control because they can backfire on the shooter or send bullets flying wildly toward people nearby.

The devices have caused innocent deaths across the state.

“The public really needs to be concerned about these particular firearms. These machine gun conversions are being manufactured illegally. So one, there is no quality control, so there could be catastrophic failure which would cause injury to the shooter. But more importantly, with every pull of the trigger, more than one round is expelled. So if you have a 30-round magazine, all 30 rounds can be expelled within one or two seconds,” Carroll said.

The division selected the Shreveport-Bossier Violent Crime Abatement Team for a training seminar in July to get officers familiar with the devices.

Possessing or manufacturing a machine handgun can land you up to ten years in jail. Trafficking them is punishable by up to 15 years, and if used in a drug crime can be 30 years.

He asks the public to call or email ATF Tips to report a Glock conversion because it could save someone’s life.