Chicago Sues Glock Over 'Switch' Mechanism That Converts Pistols into Machine Guns

The city officials say the firearm-maker is manufacturing weapons that "have caused death and destruction throughout Chicago."

A handgun resting on a textured surface with scattered bullets nearby
Nataly Hanin / Getty Images/iStockphoto
A handgun resting on a textured surface with scattered bullets nearby

Chicago officials are taking aim at Glock Inc.

According to legal documents obtained by Reuters, the city is suing the Austrian-based weapons manufacturer over the controversial “Glock switch,” a relatively cheap mechanism that converts the lightweight pistol into an illegal machine gun that can fire up to 1,200 rounds per minute.

The 41-page complaint—which was filed Tuesday in the Circuit Court of Cook County—states Chicago police have “recovered over 1,100 Glocks that have been converted into illegal machine guns in the last two years alone in connection with a wide variety of crimes.” The “switches,” aka “auto sears,” are about the size of a quarter and can be illegally purchased for around $20 or produced with a 3D printer. The devices are commonly referenced in rap songs, including Kanye West and Ty Dolla Signs’ “Vultures,” Lil Durk’s “Ahhh Ha,” NLE Choppa and BigXthaPlug’s “Pistol Paccin,” and Moneybagg Yo’s “Switches & Dracs.”

Chicago officials say Glock has known about the “switch” problem for years but has refused to alter its guns and make them less susceptible to easy modification.

“… Anyone with $20–$25 to spare and a desire to circumvent long-standing federal and state prohibitions on possessing fully automatic machine guns can do so by buying an auto sear and affixing it to a Glock pistol,” the lawsuit read. “The task can be accomplished with a common household tool, like a screwdriver, and it typically takes less than five minutes with instructions readily available online.”

Chicago officials say Glock has the resources to correct the problem but is “putting profits over public safety.” 

“While Chicago has long struggled with an epidemic of gun violence, it is unquestionable that the ease of modification of Glocks and the resulting prevalence of Modified Glocks have made the situation worse,” the lawsuit continued. “Criminals armed with Modified Glocks are emboldened because of their military-grade firepower, and they kill and injure more people, increasing the terror felt by ordinary Chicagoans. According to one ATF agent, the use of guns equipped with auto sears is ‘one of the scariest things’ the agency has dealt with in decades.”

The complaint, which was filed by Chicago’s law department and the gun reform group Everytown Law, is the first suit to use the state’s 2023 Firearms Industry Responsibility Act, which holds gun companies accountable for “knowingly creat[ing], maintain[ing] or contribut[ing] to a condition in Illinois that endangers the safety or health of the public.”

The city is seeking monetary damages as well as a court order to stop the sales of Glock handguns to Illinois residents.

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