MOBILE COUNTY, Ala. (WKRG) — Federal and local authorities are warning about a way criminals are making their weapons more dangerous. A ‘Glock switch’ is a small part that converts a semi-automatic gun to fire fully automatic.

“I would consider it a huge problem,” said Mickey French, the Special Agent in Charge of the ATF’s Nashville Field Division.

It is not legal to own or buy one, and it can make a semi-automatic gun fire a 30-round magazine in about two seconds. “It takes about one minute to convert one of these firearms to fire fully automatic, and at that point, they can fire up to 1200 rounds a minute, which is significant,” said French.

The ATF, US Attorney’s office, Mobile Police and the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office are highlighting the dangers of a modified gun in the wrong hands.

“Even if someone is using one of these firearms, they will have virtually no control over where those rounds go,” said Sean Costello, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama.

ATF demonstrated firing the modified gun. Even the trained agent struggled with controlling where the gun went.

ATF demonstrates shooting with a modified gun

“If a trained law enforcement officer cannot control that weapon, certainly juveniles or people that are not trained to use these weapons are not going to be able to control them,” said Mobile Police Chief Paul Prine. “The problem with that is is indiscriminately spraying rounds across our community and the big risk for danger is that innocent bystanders are going to be hurt or even worse killed,” said Prine.

Mobile police said within the past year they’ve found eight Glock switches. Seven of those were found within just the past six months, including when police arrested Trenteon King, who was one of Mobile’s most wanted. King was wanted after a shooting at the M&M Food Mart in March. Mobile police said King and another man were arguing when he pulled out a gun and started shooting. The man he was arguing with was not hit, two bystanders were hit by gunfire instead.

“The weapons that we have found the switches on have been linked to at least five cases, or shootings, within the past six months, and that is concerning,” said Prine.