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State law to line up with federal...

State law to line up with federal regulations around machine gun conversion devices

By: Sarah Ulmer - February 16, 2024

Republican State Reps. Kevin Felsher of Biloxi, left, and Stacey Hobgood-Wilkes of Picayune, confer during floor debate on the Mississippi Mobile Sports Wagering Act, in the Mississippi House of Representatives at the state Capitol in Jackson, Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

The push to restrict devices that allow for semi-automatic weapson to be converted to automatic weapons comes after the death of a Greene County Deputy.

Lawmakers are working to outlaw the possession of “machine gun conversion devices,” making possession a felony. Federal law already outlaws’ ownership and sale of these devices, the bill would codify the rule in state law for use by local prosecutors.

HB 903, authored by Representative Kevin Felsher (R) was passed out of the Judiciary B committee on Thursday. It says that any person who manufactures, possesses, or uses a machine gun conversion device will be guilty of a felony offense.

These devices often called a “Glock switch” enable an individual to create their own machine guns by converting a semiautomatic handgun or rifle into an automatic weapon. The switch works by blocking the mechanism that typically requires the trigger to be pulled before each individual shot. The weapon would then be capable of firing up to 20 rounds a second, though most standard magazines carry fewer rounds.

“There have been at least two deaths we know of that have involved guns with these switches,” said Rep. Felscher. “This puts law enforcement and the public at risk because these guns can now fire off around 20 rounds in 2.5 seconds.”

He said this legislation is just one more tool to help law enforcement and prosecutors curtail crime.

The bill has been supported by the Mississippi Association of Chiefs of Police after the death of George County Deputy Jeremy Malone. Malone was shot and killed after pulling over a suspect for a tag violation. The weapon that was used had the altered “Glock switch” which made it fully automatic.

Additional letters of support were submitted by the Mississippi Prosecutor’s Association (MPA), Mississippi Law Enforcement Officers’ Association (MLEOA), Mississippi Sheriffs’ Association (MSA), and Mississippi State Troopers Association (MSTA).

W. Crosby Parker with the MPA said that while the possession of these conversion devices is already illegal on a federal level, the rapid increase of their presence on the streets is making it difficult for the ATF to pursue cases and prosecute. He attributes the rise in availability of the switches to the use of home 3D printers.

“Law enforcement officers across the state of Mississippi are currently encountering “Glock switches” at a troubling rate and now along with the ease of printing “Glock stiches with a home 3D printer, there is little to no limitations on availability,” said Todd Holliday with the MLEOA.

Sheriff Greg Pollan with the MSA said that when “bad guys” use these against officers of other Mississippians, there is zero response time, and no attempt to defend oneself.

By the end of 2023, The Washington Post reported the ATF recovered more than 5,400 illegal devices between 2017 and 2021, a 570 percent increase from the previous five years. Prior to the use of home 3D printers, most of these devices were being imported from Mexico and China. The devices can be made of plastic or metal but as soon as they are added to a firearm, it renders that weapon illegal by federal law.

The conviction carries with it potential jail time of 10 years and a fine up to $3,000. If someone is convicted more than once, that prison term can increase to 15 years and the fine goes up to $5,000.  

There are exceptions for individuals to own what the federal government classifies as a machine gun or automatic weapon, if they are registered with ATF The person must not be classified as “prohibited,” over the age of 21, a legal resident of the United States, legally eligible to purchase a firearm, pass a BATFE background check and pay the one-time transfer tax. This approval then comes with a stamp to record your ownership of an automatic weapon.

This bill would not supersede that caveat.

About the Author(s)
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Sarah Ulmer

Sarah is a Mississippi native, born and raised in Madison. She is a graduate of Mississippi State University, where she studied Communications, with an emphasis in Broadcasting and Journalism. Sarah’s experience spans multiple mediums, including extensive videography with both at home and overseas, broadcasting daily news, and hosting a live radio show. In 2017, Sarah became a member of the Capitol Press Corp in Mississippi and has faithfully covered the decisions being made by leaders on some of the most important issues facing our state. Email Sarah: