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Attorney General Ellison tells Glock to preserve evidence related to firearms' easy conversion into machine guns

Joins coalition of 13 AGs in letter to weapons manufacturer in wake of City of Chicago lawsuit over switches that turn pistols into machine guns

March 28, 2024 (SAINT PAUL) — Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison has joined a coalition of 13 attorneys general in sending a letter that tells Glock, Inc. to preserve all evidence related to its line of Glock pistols, which can be easily converted into illegal machine guns with just one small, easy-to-make modification.

Attorney General Ellison and the coalition sent the letter to Glock in the wake of the gunmaker being sued by the City of Chicago. In that lawsuit, filed March 19, Chicago alleges that Glock has known that the guns can be easily adapted into a machine gun with the addition of an auto sear — a cheap, small device commonly known as a “Glock switch.” The City said that machine guns have become “a weapon of choice for criminals in Chicago.”

Glock has known that the ability to carry out this do-it-yourself conversion is built into its handgun design, and has refused to make meaningful design changes to fix this problem, the lawsuit alleges. Chicago is seeking a court order requiring Glock to end sales of these easily converted pistols to Chicago civilians and to put in place reasonable controls, safeguards and procedures to prevent their unlawful possession, use and sale.

“Everyone has a role to play in stopping the epidemic of gun violence. Individual offenders must be held accountable — and companies that turn a blind eye to their role in perpetuating the epidemic must be, too,” Attorney General Ellison said. “Attorneys general across the country have broad civil-law authority to protect the people of our states and we will not hesitate to use it if our states’ laws have been broken.”

According to Chicago’s complaint, Glock switches allow pistols to fire up to 1,200 rounds per minute — a rate as fast as or faster than many fully automatic firearms and machine guns used by the United States military. Yet the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives reports that more than 5,400 machine-gun conversion parts were seized between 2017 to 2021 — a frightening 570% increase from the prior five-year period.

The letter says that if Chicago’s factual allegations about Glock are true, Glock’s conduct “may also involve violations of our States’ laws. We will not hesitate to enforce our laws when they are violated.” To that end, Attorney General Ellison and the coalition are asking Glock to preserve all documents related to:

• the modification of Glock handguns, through the use of switches, to fire automatically, including but not limited to those converted handguns’ use in crime or violence, impact on public safety, or prevalence;

• how Glock pistols are designed and developed to function as a semiautomatic weapon, any efforts Glock may have taken or considered to reduce the capability to be converted easily, and the possibility of any design changes;

• Glock’s knowledge about all state and federal laws relating to Glock switches and converted Glock machine guns, their legal responsibility as a manufacturer of these guns, and whether they followed these laws and met their responsibility;

• financial details about Glock pistols, including profits, manufacturing, and distribution costs, as well as expenses relating to alternative designs that were available or considered;

• any public marketing or advertising related to Glock pistols, including any claims about their safety, lethality, modularity, semiautomatic function, or the speed at which they fire.

Joining Attorney General Ellison in the letter are New Jersey Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin, who led the coalition, and the attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Michigan, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

 

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