DALLAS — Federal agents and police say they are seeing thousands of illegal machine gun converter kits in the streets of Dallas-Fort Worth.
When shots rang out in Deep Ellum last month, witnesses said it sounded like a machine gun.
Dallas Police Department sources told WFAA one of the suspects used a semi-automatic gun that had been converted into a machine gun by using a small device called a machine gun converter kit.
"It makes it a fully automatic machine gun. So, instead of pulling the trigger once for each shot, you hold the trigger once and the whole magazine will go out,” said Jeff Boshek, ATF SAC Dallas Field Division.
WFAA went out with ATF for a demonstration on how fast the weapons can fire.
ATF Special Agent in Charge Jeff Boshek said it can shoot dozens of rounds in one second.
"I’ve been an ATF agent for over 20 years. It’s the scariest thing I’ve seen in my time as an ATF agent,” said Boshek.
The device is a small piece of metal or plastic that goes on the back of a semi-automatic.
"People ask, what’s the big deal with a little piece of plastic? Oh, it’s a big deal, because it can cause tremendous casualties to citizens,” said Boshek.
The devices once imported from China can now be made at home in 40 minutes with a 3D printer.
"Dirt cheap. You can make these things for a quarter, and typically they are paying 400 bucks a piece,” said Boshek.
The device makes the gun unstable so that even trained ATF SWAT members have trouble controlling it. Boshek said a bad guy firing one into a crowd sends bullets flying everywhere, like in the Deep Ellum shooting. Five people were shot, and some of them were innocent bystanders.
Evelyn and Glenn Logan were selling barbecue the night of the shooting when two suspects shot at each other.
"So many shots going off. Everybody ducked under the trailers and trucks, and tried to get out of the way,” said Glenn Logan.
For those caught in the middle of the shooting, it was terrifying.
"Very fearful, because you never know when you are going to be next. Bullets don’t have names on them, and you don’t know when you are going to be the next victim,” said Evelyn Logan.
The ATF says it’s also dangerous for law enforcement when they go up against someone with one of these weapons. So, they want to raise awareness on this issue.
It is illegal to have one of the devices and you can spend up to 10 years in prison if you are caught.
The ATF says if you see one of the small devices, call them.
They are dangerous and reporting them could prevent multiple people being hurt.