Man Arrested For Possessing 117 Devices Converting Pistols To Machine Guns. Why Are They Illegal?

The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco & Firearms (ATF) agents arrested a man for possessing devices known as “switch” that converts a pistol into a machine gun.


Leonard “Scrap” Johnson allegedly sold the devices for $500 apiece to over 2500 individuals nationally. About 256 devices were bought and owned in Chicago by 118 individuals. ATF officers found 117 devices during the raid.

“Devices that are designed and intended to convert firearms into machine guns pose a significant threat to public safety,” ATF spokesperson Kimberly Nerheim said. “ATF agents in the Chicago Field Division will continue to work diligently with their state, local, and federal partners to identify sources of these devices to ensure the safety of the community.”


The case could resemble the failed prosecution of a Texas man, Ajay Dhingra, arrested for possessing bump stocks, which are devices “that turn a semi-auto into a machine gun” – ring any bells?

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However, the ATF could not prove that bump stocks converted a semi-auto into a fully automatic firearm. The ATF must also prove that the switches converted the pistols into machine guns to convict Johnson.


As Tom Berg, the attorney representing Ajay, said during the failed trial, “If something doesn’t meet the definition of a machine gun, it’s not a machine gun. And no amount of wishing or passing rules can change it.”


Evidently, Americans should be able to own switches and similar devices for self-defense and shooting sports, given that they’re only arbitrarily classified as machine guns. Besides, making them illegal does not prevent criminals from having them.


Johnson was arrested because he wasn’t exactly hiding the switches as most criminals would. Determined criminals could still acquire them and use them without the knowledge of the ATF.


Considering that the devices are rarely used in crimes, it’s evident that they’re not popular with criminals. Besides, they do not increase the accuracy and thus the lethality of the firearm.


Additionally, banning the devices goes against the purpose of the Second Amendment. This is because preventing Americans from owning the devices, undermines their ability to fight tyrants armed with modern weapons.


Devices that simulate machine guns should also not be regulated because they’re not firearms and do not reach the threshold of being classified as such.


Banning external devices such as bump stocks and switches does not contribute to improved public safety. It only gives anti-gun politicians more excuses to weaken the Second Amendment.

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