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These are the ‘biggest concern’ for Richmond's interim police chief: ‘You can’t control it’

Edwards: 'Look at the kids who've been shot by stray bullets or the ones that have gone through a wall. It's awful and shouldn't be going on.'
Posted at 10:07 AM, Jul 16, 2023

RICHMOND, Va. -- Gun violence took center stage at the STOP the Violence Town Hallon Thursday night, with many residents asking Interim Police Chief Rick Edwards for insights on what Richmond Police officers are seeing and recovering.

Edwards answered one Richmond resident directly in saying the department has not seen a wave of “ghost guns” produced by 3D printers. However, he cautioned that they have witnessed a concerning number of firearms being altered to function as automatic weapons.

"The biggest concern for me right now, isn't the ghost guns even though they're a problem," Edwards said. "It's something I talk about often and what's commonly referred to as a 'Glock switch.' So these are auto sears, these are a small device that goes into the back of a normal pistol and turns it into a machine gun. And I can tell you last night, we had a shooting where one of those guns was used."

WATCH: 'Glock switch’ is ‘biggest concern’ for Richmond Police Chief: ‘You can’t control it’

‘Glock-switch’ is ‘biggest concern’ for Richmond Police Chief: ‘You can’t control it’

Edwards said the modified weapons are dangerous and difficult to control. In fact, he linked those guns to a spike in non-fatal shootings last year.

"If you have a pistol that has a machine gun, you can't control it so it is bouncing everywhere," Edwards explained. "So the person that you're aiming at, you might miss but you may hit five other people accidentally."
The chief said he believes auto sears should be against the law in Virginia.

"I think that's just common sense. Even responsible gun owners know that not a reasonable device to put on a pistol to make it fully automatic," he said.

Edwards said children have been the unintended victims because they end up "shot by stray bullets or the ones that have gone through a wall."

"It's awful and shouldn't be going on," Edwards said.

Nichole Dechick
Nichole Dechick

Nichole Dechick, a resident living close to the recent shooting incident at Adams and Broad streets said she feared being hit by a stray bullet.

"There's no need for anyone to have a gun that goes ‘duh dud duh dud,’” said Dechick, mimicking the sound of rapidly firing bullets.

Dechick, an amputee, shared her terrifying experience of having to protect her four-month-old granddaughter during the incident by placing her on her back and sliding to safety.

Woman terrified of being hit by stray bullet put granddaughter on her back, slid to safety

"It was really scary to have to get on my stomach and crawl while worried about the baby, that something would happen to her or me," Dechick recalled.

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Mayor Levar Stoney, who was unable to attend the town hall due to another commitment, previously mentioned his own concern over firearms being altered to automatic styles.

Stoney conveyed his views to Commonwealth Attorney Colette McEachin, who was part of the panel at Thursday’s town hall, emphasizing the need for stricter penalties for individuals modifying weapons.

"When a handgun becomes a weapon of war, I believe that anyone who alters a handgun and uses it in the commission of a crime should face tougher sentencing. That's why we are collaborating with the Commonwealth Attorney and federal authorities to ensure that those who use these weapons during crimes are held accountable and receive lengthy sentences," stated Stoney.

Why Richmond mayor did not attend STOP the Violence Town Hall

As Operation Safe Summer continues in the city, authorities have already confiscated 47 illegal guns from the streets in the past 28 days. The initiative aims to curb gun violence and maintain community safety.

Local leaders and law enforcement vow to work together to combat the problem but say they also need the public’s help to alleviate firearm-related incidents.

Depend on CBS 6 News and WTVR.com for in-depth coverage of this important local story. Anyone with more information can email newstips@wtvr.com to send a tip.

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