RALEIGH, N.C. (WITN) – A Farmville man was sentenced recently in federal court to more than six years for having a gun that had been converted to a fully automatic machine gun.
In a recent public service announcement, U.S. District Attorney Michael Easley reminded people that having a Glock or auto-sear switch was illegal and could land you in jail for up to 10 years as well as have to pay up to $250,000 in fines.
Easley said a Glock or auto-sear switch is a small, conversion device that can be attached to a handgun, converting it into a fully automatic machine gun.
Easley’s warning comes after two men, including one from ENC, were sentenced in the last two weeks for having such modifications on their guns.
According to Easley, 19-year-old Lamikah Baptist of Farmville, who police say is part of a local gang, pled guilty to possession of a machine gun.
Easley says that Baptist was recently sentenced to over six years in federal prison on that charge.
According to court documents and other information presented in court, on January 15 the Greenville Police Department responded to a shots-fired call outside a home where shots were fired at people standing in the yard.
Police said that a ShotSpotter report showed that 21 rounds of automatic gunfire were fired, and police found 20 spent shell casings on the road in front of the home.
Surveillance video showed Baptist as a passenger in a car leaving the scene after the shooting, and within five minutes, Baptist went live on Instagram with a video that seemed to acknowledge the shooting and indicated that it was directed at members of a rival gang that had killed Baptist’s friend.
Police said that Baptist also posted other videos titled, “Just me and my switch,” where police say he talks about owning a switch, and “Come get this off me,” where police say he shows a Polymer80 handgun and a bag of marijuana.
Police said that they the residence where Baptist was caught and found a ghost gun with a switch loaded with 20 rounds of ammunition, additional ammunition, a 50-round drum magazine, marijuana, and a ballistic vest.
“In the last week we’ve sentenced two defendants caught with ghost guns modified into fully automatic machineguns. According to ATF, from 2017 to 2021, over 5,000 machinegun conversion devices, or “switches,” were recovered in the U.S. – a 570% increase from the 814 recovered between 2012 and 2016. The number of switches continue to increase, with thousands recovered nationwide over the last two years,” said U.S. Attorney Michael Easley. “A gun with a switch can automatically fire an entire 30-round magazine in about two seconds. Owning the switches is equivalent to owning a machine gun, and if you have them, our office will prosecute you.”
“Machine gun conversion kits are turning up more and more in our streets and at crime scenes,” said Special Agent in Charge Bennie Mims. “These conversion devices are illegal, incredibly dangerous, and pose a serious threat to the community. ATF is working closely with our law enforcement partners to keep these devices off our streets.”
Easley encouraged individuals with information on machine gun conversion devices to call the tip line at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) at 1-888-ATF-TIPS or ATF.gov/ATF-Tips.