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WKBW 7 News Buffalo

Buffalo Police say they're seeing an increasing amount of auto sears

By Olivia Proia,


An auto sear, or a select fire switch, is a small device that can turn a semi-automatic handgun into an automatic weapon.

"It's a small piece, maybe the size of a quarter," Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said, "You attach this on the back, you flip a switch on it, and you can go from normal semi-automatic one trigger pull, one round firing, and you have a fully automatic firing weapon. It is scary. We are seeing them on the streets of Buffalo."

Gramaglia said these extremely dangerous devices are popping up across the city.

"I think they are starting to increase in popularity. I hate to use that word. We've taken in approximately ten of them last year, in 2022. We are seeing them on social media," Gramaglia said.

Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said possession of an auto sear means a plea negotiation is off the table.

"If you have one of these modifications, that is going to hurt your chances of getting a plea," Flynn said.

Flynn said possession of an illegal weapon is a C felony, and criminal possession of a rapid-fire modification device, which is an A misdemeanor, can tack a year of imprisonment onto a criminal sentence.

Gramaglia said these auto sears are coming from overseas or are 3D printed because they're illegal at the federal level too. It is illegal to manufacture an auto sear within the county.

"Just the possession of that piece of metal, and it doesn't have to be attached to a gun and it doesn't have to have a gun with you, just having that piece of metal is a federal prosecutable charge," Gramaglia said.

7 News reached out to the U.S. Attorney's Office, and a spokesperson said they did not have anyone who could speak to this issue.

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