Feds warns Houstonians about rising gun trend in Texas, calling it 'a plague to our community'

Chaz Miller Image
Monday, June 10, 2024 11:40PM
Gun-related crime becomes 'a plague to our community,' officials say
Federal law enforcement officials describe switches as "a plague to our community" during a demonstration showing how the device dangerously modifies a pistol.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Federal law enforcement officials describe switches as "a plague to our community."

So what's a switch? Officials say it's an inch-long device that converts a semi-automatic gun into a fully automatic weapon.

ABC13 was present at a demonstration this morning, during which a representative from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives showed how the device modifies a pistol.

The ATF representative first fired 15 rounds from a semi-automatic gun, which took a little less than four seconds to complete.

Then, a pistol with the switch took .64 seconds to fire the same number of rounds.

"These switches are just a simple piece of plastic," ATF Special Agent Charge Mike Weddel said. "They're 3D printed, or often they're imported from other countries."

The U.S. Attorney's Office said the use of switches, which are generally inserted into the butt of a gun, is on the rise in the State of Texas.

They said Texas-based ATF agents took 991 between 2017 and 2023, but 490 came in 2023 alone.

The Houston area is no stranger to the carnage these can cause.

Houston Police Department Officer William Jeffrey was killed by a gun that had one in September 2021.

Three HPD officers were shot by a modified gun on McGowen and Hutchins near downtown in January 2022.

"It is a machine that causes death and destruction without much precision," U.S. Attorney of the Southern District of Texas Alamdar Hamdani said. "That's scary."

Hamdani added that the U.S. Attorney's Office is partnering with Crime Stoppers in an "Operation Texas Kill Switch" initiative.

The crime initiative runs through the end of August. It allows anonymous citizens to receive a reward if the information they give to Crime Stoppers leads to the arrest of someone possessing a switch.

You can contact Crime Stoppers of Houston directly if you have any information related to this initiative. Information leading to the charging and/or arrest of any felony suspects may result in a cash payment of up to $5,000.

Tipsters must contact Crime Stoppers directly to remain anonymous and to be considered for a cash payment by calling 713-222-TIPS (8477), submitting an online tip, or through the Crime Stoppers mobile app.

For news updates, follow Chaz Miller on Facebook, X and Instagram.