INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana lawmakers are moving forward with bills to strengthen a ban on devices that turn firearms into machine guns.
So-called Glock switches, or auto sears, are small devices that make guns fully automatic when attached.
The devices are being found more often across the U.S., including in Indiana’s capital city, according to police.
“In the past two weeks, in one investigation, our investigators have recovered 40 of these machine-gun conversion devices,” said IMPD Asst. Chief Chris Bailey.
Bailey testified before a Senate committee Tuesday in support of legislation authored by State Sen. Aaron Freeman (R-Indianapolis) that aims to get those devices off the street.
“It’s one thing to do what you’re doing every day, it’s another thing to get out of the car and then be faced with machine-gun fire from a handgun,” Freeman told Bailey during the hearing.
Freeman’s Senate Bill 343 and House Bill 1365, carried by State Rep. Mitch Gore (D-Indianapolis), both expand the ban on auto sears.
They’re already illegal under federal law, but state law doesn’t criminalize possession of them unless they’ve already been attached to a gun. The bills introduced would expand the state ban to include devices that have not been attached to guns.
The House passed HB 1365 with a 68-24 vote Tuesday. Senate Bill 343 passed in committee unanimously earlier in the day.
“They could get them off the black market, but now we’re seeing them produced right here in Indiana using 3D printers or other machining techniques,” Gore said.
Although the bills have bipartisan support, House Republicans were divided, and there are some other opponents.
Representatives from Fostech Inc., a gun manufacturer in Seymour, testified against the bill in a House committee hearing, agreeing with the bill’s purpose but concerned the language in the bill could apply to other products.
Gore said the bill doesn’t outlaw anything that isn’t already illegal at the federal level. He argues allowing state courts to file charges will help improve public safety.
“Our U.S. Attorney’s offices, they’re relatively small, they’re already overworked, and they have a very specific set of parameters that they consider when deciding to charge somebody,” Gore said.
The House bill will be sent to the Senate for consideration. The Senate bill heads to the Senate floor.
The House lawmakers who voted against the bill in committee or raised concerns during the committee hearing did not respond to our requests for interviews.