FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. – Investigators with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement have revealed that a Glock handgun that had been converted into a fully-automatic weapon was among several items recovered by deputies during a traffic stop in Flagler County.
According to Flagler County deputies, Benjamin Bowie, 23, was wanted on a warrant out of Georgia for grand theft auto at the time of his arrest in November. When the arresting deputy searched his vehicle, investigators said, they found marijuana along with multiple firearms, magazines and face masks. Records show he was arrested on a felony firearm charge and other misdemeanor charges, but now faces an additional charge of possession of a short barreled firearm.
The guns were sent to the FDLE crime lab, where investigators said they determined one of the guns -- a Glock 17 -- was converted into a fully-automatic handgun.
Machine guns are illegal in the U.S. unless you have a special federal firearm license to own one or if the gun was made before 1986. Investigators said neither condition applies in this case.
“Any firearm that is used for criminal reasons or has alterations to make it perform outside of the way it was intended, obviously creates a higher risk to us,” said Jon Welker, division chief at the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office.
News4JAX crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson says a concealed automatic weapon this small in the wrong hands not only poses a danger for law enforcement, but also the general public.
“All the power these weapons have, and the kick that it has, unless you are very proficient in handling it and knowing what the kick is going to be, it could get out of control,” Jefferson said.
Welker says that while law enforcement is concerned about this kind of weapon on the streets, they are more worried about the person who is in possession of it.
“Their motives. The things they are looking to do. That’s really where the focus is,” Welker said.
“If one person know how to convert it, you can best believe there are ore who know how to convert it as well,” Jefferson added. “Just haven’t come across them yet.”