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Press Release

Texas U.S. Attorneys Announce “Operation Texas Kill Switch” Aimed At Machinegun Conversion Devices

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Texas
Crimestoppers to Offer Rewards for Switches

SAN ANTONIO – Today, U.S. Attorneys for the Western, Northern, Southern, and Eastern Districts of Texas announced, “Operation Texas Kill Switch,” a statewide initiative targeting illegal machinegun conversion devices, colloquially known as “switches.”

At simultaneous press conferences throughout the state, U.S. Attorneys Jaime Esparza, Leigha Simonton, Alamdar Hamdani, and Damien Diggs, joined by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, & Explosives Special Agents in Charge Jeffrey Boshek and Michael Weddel, and ATF Assistant Special Agent in Charge Robert Topper, lambasted switches, which transform commercially available firearms into fully automatic weapons capable of firing faster than military-grade M4s.

“As U.S. Attorneys and federal law enforcement agents, our offices have been investigating and prosecuting switches for many years, but as the problem continues to escalate, we are determined to do more,” said U.S. Attorney Jaime Esparza for the Western District of Texas. “Operation Kill Switch has two main goals. We encourage state and local law enforcement to be on the lookout for machinegun conversion devices, and we urge the public to report switches to law enforcement.”

“Today’s important initiative is aimed at raising awareness of illegal machine gun conversation devices also known as ‘switches,’” said Special Agent in Charge Michael Weddel for ATF Houston. “Today’s threat comes from machinegun conversion devices that easily convert a firearm into a machinegun.  These “Switches” as they are often called on the streets, not only pose a serious threat to those living in our communities but a unique and deadly threat to law enforcement. Simply possessing one of these devices is a federal crime and we will work endlessly in conjunction with our United States Attorney’s Office in addition to our local, state, and federal partners to identify and prosecute these crimes.”

About an inch long, switches may be made of metal or plastic and can be manufactured using a 3D printer. They generally slot into the butt of a gun and allow the shooter to fire “full auto,” unloading dozens of rounds with a single pull of the trigger. (In contrast, regular semi-automatic firearms require a separate trigger pull for each round fired.)  To date, switches have been used in numerous fatal shootings, including at least one juvenile mass shooting and multiple police killings.

Except in very limited circumstances, possession of a switch is illegal, as the National Firearms Act classifies the switch itself as a machinegun.

Yet the number of switches recovered by law enforcement has risen dramatically in the past few years. Between 2017 and 2023, Texas-based ATF agents seized 991 switches; 490 of those, 50 percent, were seized just last year. They are often sold over social media, marketed to adults and juveniles alike.

At Monday’s press conference, the U.S. Attorneys announced that as part of Operation Texas Kill Switch, they are partnering with Crime Stopper programs statewide to combat the proliferation of these illegal devices. 

From now until Aug. 31, local Crime Stopper programs will offer cash rewards for information leading to the apprehension or prosecution of those who possess switches or 3D printers being used to manufacture them. To be eligible for cash rewards, tipsters must provide information to their local Crime Stoppers program. Tipsters may also use **TIPS to be connected to a Crime Stoppers program in their area. Tips can be submitted 24 hours a day, and anonymity is guaranteed by law. Information may also be submitted directly to ATF at

U.S. Attorneys Esparza, Simonton, Hamdani, and Diggs also urged local law enforcement to partner with the feds on switch cases, which carry maximum sentences of up to 10 years in the federal system. They laid out their case in a joint op-ed published Monday in the Austin American Statesman.


Updated June 10, 2024

Firearms Offenses