Something as simple as a one-inch piece of plastic is turning legal firearms into illegal killing machines.

U.S. Attorneys in Texas are collaborating with Crime Stoppers programs as part of Operation Texas Kill Switch, an initiative to address and stop the spread of illegal “switches.”

Switches are considered unlawful attachments that, when affixed to a legal semiautomatic rifle, modify it into a “full auto” firing automatic weapon. With a single trigger press, these altered guns are capable of firing rounds more rapidly than military-grade M4s, per a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Texas.

Switches are approximately one inch long and can be crafted from metal or plastic. They can also be produced using commercially accessible 3D printing technology. With the exception of specific situations, owning a switch is prohibited due to its classification as a machine gun under the National Firearms Act.

“We’re here to talk about a roughly one-inch piece of plastic. It looks innocuous enough, a little like a Lego or a K’nex block. But this one-inch piece of plastic is killing people,” said U.S. Attorney Leigha Simonton at a press conference, reported CultureMap Dallas.

The ATF Dallas Field Division posted a video to explain switches:

Over the past few years, there has been a concerning surge in the number of switches seized by law enforcement. From 2017 to 2023, Texas ATF agents confiscated a total of 991 switches, with 50% of the total number seized in 2023 alone, per the press release.

“Machinegun conversion devices are incredibly dangerous and pose an unacceptable risk to the public and law enforcement,” said U.S. Attorney Damien M. Diggs.

Switches are frequently marketed and retailed on social media platforms and have broad appeal, capturing the interest of adults and youth, per CultureMap Dallas.

Through August 31, local Crime Stopper programs will provide cash rewards for details that lead to the capture or prosecution of individuals who have switches or 3D printers used to produce them.

Informants must provide details to their local Crime Stoppers program to be eligible for cash rewards. Tips can be submitted anytime, 24/7, and the law ensures the tipster’s anonymity. Information can also be submitted online to the ATF directly by going HERE.

According to the city’s crime analytics dashboard, 953 weapon law violations had already been reported in Dallas as of June 10. The top offending areas include Council Member Omar Narvaez, District 6, with 173 weapons offenses; Council Member Adam Bazaldua, District 7, with 139; and Council Member Carolyn King Arnold, District 4, with 108.

Efforts to combat crime have been hindered by an ongoing shortage of police officers in Dallas. The DPD has roughly 3,000 sworn officers despite a City report recommending that about 4,000 officers for a city of its size be hired to adequately address crime. Furthermore, Dallas City officials only budgeted $654 million in taxpayer money for the DPD this fiscal year, considerably less than other high-crime jurisdictions, like Chicago and New York City, spend on public safety.