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Marion County Prosecutor's Office: 263% increase in cases filed involving 'glock switches' in 2023

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Posted at 7:48 PM, May 24, 2024

INDIANAPOLIS — A deadly device that turns a handgun into a machine gun is being found across Indianapolis streets at an alarming rate for the Marion County Prosecutor's Office.

Cases involving "glock switches" increased by 236% last year, according to the MCPO.

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"That's really an astronomical number. It was one of the areas where we had by far our largest growth in terms of the number of cases that we prosecuted and the number of charges that were filed," said Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears.

Mears says 111 possession of machine gun cases were filed.

"Under the old statue, that's how we were filing them under the machine gun statue. Those initial cases that we were filing were being charged as possession of a machine gun because we believe that's what the glock switch is," he said.

The switches are the size of a penny.

"They're very basic, simple pieces of metal or plastic that you can insert into the box, which is something that you can do through a 3D printer," said Mears.

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They're so powerful, Prosecutor Mears said, the chamber of a gun can be emptied with one trigger pull.

"It's disheartening. Unfortunately, we've also seen these glock switches attached to murder cases," said Mears. "So, you not only have people losing their life when these devices are fired, but you're also having people lose their life when they're buying and selling these glock switches."

The deadly devices are falling into hands of younger residents.

"This is very much a young person's game. When we see these glock switch cases, it's almost always people under 24 years of age," said Mears.

"That is disheartening to hear. We've been hearing that all along, but now to have a report that validates what we we've already known is discouraging," said Executive Director of Stop the Violence Indianapolis, Anthony Beverly.

Data shows guns are the leading cause of death for young people in Indiana.

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Stop the Violence Indianapolis works with young people in hopes to change the narrative.

"To move the needle forward beyond gun violence because that shouldn't be the only narrative, that teenagers are involved in gun violence," said Brandon Bowman.

Members say it's going to take everyone talking to their children and monitoring for illegal guns.

"The message we give to the youth we talk to is put the guns down," said Bowman. "We are trying to put something different into their hands because in order for our youth to find something to do, we have to give them something. We can't just say, 'Put the guns down,' and leave them with nothing because eventually those idle hands will pick the guns right back up."

"The new law that came out last year has put a fear in people where they feel like they have to carry their guns because they feel like everybody has one now. I think that's our city's problem now," said Beverly.

The prosecutor's office worked with IMPD on many of the cases.

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They say the increase in filed cases sends a message to the community that the devices are illegal, and there are criminal consequences attached to those glock switches.

"I have to give a lot of credit to IMPD because they have devoted resources to educating their officers. In the current state of Indiana gun laws, there's a lot of people who can walk around with guns and those officers being able to spot and identify when a glock switch is attached to a device is critical for us," said Mears.