For nearly 90 years, it was almost impossible for criminals to get their hands on machine guns because of a bevy of government regulations. In recent years, however, that changed. A surge in DIY gunmaking and online smuggling has transformed the market and made automatic weapons more easily accessible.
Last month, I reported on the rise of machine guns, in collaboration with our partners at VICE News. Our investigation focused on the auto sear, a small plastic or metal device that can convert popular guns like the AR-15 and the Glock handgun into automatic weapons capable of firing upwards of 1,200 rounds a minute. Our investigation found that guns equipped with auto sears had been used in hundreds of crimes, including murders and mass shootings. At the same time, many law enforcement agencies are struggling to clamp down on the proliferation of the devices, which are often sold and shipped from other continents and can cost as little as $20.
This week, I sat down with the team at Vox’s Today, Explained podcast to share more findings from my investigation. Give it a listen here: