May 01, 2006

The Back Door

It's very hard to get a gun in Minneapolis - as long as you've never committed a crime in your life and are committed to acting within the bounds of the law.

The City of Minneapolis has shut down all but one of the gun shops within city limits over the past 20 years (as has Saint Paul) - and that last remaining shop, Koscielski's on Chicago Avenue, is not allowed to actually sell guns, the last I checked.

Of course - as we Second Amendment activists have been warning all along - finding a gun remains a trivial matter, as the Strib notes:

A confidential 2005 report by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, obtained from sources outside the ATF, draws a portrait of the growing illegal marketplace for guns in the Twin Cities.

It describes how from January 2004 to last August, authorities traced nearly 1,200 firearms in Minneapolis involved in criminal investigations.

The report also says that nearly 200 guns recovered during Minneapolis crime investigations in the past 18 months were sold by at least seven legitimate gun retailers in the Twin Cities.

Unstated in the report; the criminal records of those from whom the firearms were confiscated.
People in Minneapolis caught with the guns typically used straw buyers -- without a criminal record -- to buy guns from retailers that wound up being used in crimes.
This brings up all sorts of questions.

For starters - traditionally, guns on the black market, at least the cheap 'n dirty ones favored by criminal scum, have been cheaper than guns bought through legitimate dealers. Does this mean that the price of black market firearms is rising to the point where buying guns from the legit market is a better deal? Or does it mean that criminals are confident in their ability to operate with impunity in Minneapolis?

In its investigation of a gang called the Shotgun Crips, for example, the task force has seized about 30 guns, according to an ATF summary prepared for the Star Tribune...
Some of the women are shown on surveillance cameras inside a local gun store being directed to buy certain weapons, investigators say. In one scene on tape, a couple leave after peering into a gun case, and within an hour, the woman returns to make the purchase.
Unmentioned by the Strib report: Where did these "Shotgun Crips" come from? Why did they move to Minnesota in the first place?

Why do you think?

It's not about gangs controlling turf there, he says. It's about controlling drug trafficking and backing up their operation with force.

One recent evening, [Minneapolis police weapons task force sergeant Greg] Freeman swung back toward 26th and Dupont Avenues N. Petty crack deals were going down, and kids on bikes with cell phones were hustling to get to the corner to sell a foil pulled from their sweatshirts.

But he had bigger targets in mind than going after a $50 crack deal.

"It's like herding cats to go after that," he said.

This is Amy Klobuchar's Minneapolis.

Oh, the report turns it's attention outstate, of course...:

Word had spread to Minneapolis, investigators say, that if you wanted to get a steady supply of guns, Schiley's sales were worth the drive. The retired refinery worker from St. Paul bought handguns at other garage sales, then sold them for between $125 and $250, depending on the weapon's make.

Two men from Minneapolis became his regular customers and bought at least 40 handguns from him, he said in an interview last week.

"They were turning around down there and selling them for $500," he said. "I kept asking what they were doing, and they said they had some friends who need a little home protection."

When confronted this year by ATF and FBI agents assigned to the police task force, Schiley said he realized he had broken the law. He acknowledges now that his regulars were buying more guns than the average person.

"I guess they were using me to get the guns," he said. "The way they've (law enforcement officials) explained it to me -- yeah, I was breaking the law."

Schiley was indicted two weeks ago in federal court for selling firearms without a license. Weapons he sold have turned up in about a dozen gun-related crimes, police say.

Schiley's going to go to jail, and deservedly so.

But here's a question; why didn't this trade in illegal guns coming in from bucolic Pillager turn the greater Pillager area into a criminal cesspool? Do Pillagerites need to worry about gang-banging scum shooting at random on their main street?

No. It took people from a gang of criminal vermin to turn the garage-sale guns - inert pieces of metal - into a problem on the streets of Amy Klobuchar's Minneapolis.

So why do these pieces of filth still roam our streets, virtually unimpeded? Is it the fault of the Minneapolis Police Department? No - despite a quarter-century of lousy choices for chief of the beleaguered department, the cops in Minneapolis do their best.

No. The problem comes from upstream.

RT Rybak and the city council, and their predecessors in the office, bear their share of the blame.

It's the city and county law-enforcement leadership whose job it is to make the streets safer.

And at the end of the day, Minneapolis is a city where the law-abiding person has to jump through uncountable hoops for the means defend him or herself from criminal scum, and is yet no safer today than their were 15 years ago, even as crime nationwide plummets.

This is Amy Klobuchar's Minneapolis.

Posted by Mitch at May 1, 2006 05:44 AM | TrackBack

A very Rambix-like post! Couldn't have said it better myself. Blame the gun, blame the gun, blame the gun...

Posted by: rambix at May 1, 2006 06:24 AM

So I am a tad confused. the Chief states:
""the rise in crime was and remains a direct correlation to staffing reductions. The [Minneapolis Police Department], as with many departments around the country, was decimated by budget cuts ... and it will take some time to recover.""

Cuts tied directly to a GOP pillaging of the budget (COPS Program) to provide Tax cuts to their rich donor buddies.

"" In Minneapolis, $6 million in COPS grants allowed the police department to hire 81 cops and boost the city's number of officers to 938 by 1997. But officials have had to cut 140 positions since then including 38 this year. Officers are being shifted from neighborhoods to handle emergency calls; robberies are up by 20% this year, and burglaries are up 3%.""

So wouldn't that make it Pres. George Bush's Minneapolis. Or when the State GOP along with Governor TPaw strips LGA from the formula and the Urban environments can't even replace the lost federal funds with local resources. Can we then say it is Gov TPaws Minneapolis.

You're being disingenuous to try to pin the increases in MPLS crime on a county attorney who though the most recent available data has REDUCED Hennepin Cty serious crime by 36% from '97 to 2004 (

Minneapolis Crime rates are also down 30% from 1997 to 2005 (

So you guys keep pushing this little meme, and when the campaign gets into full steam, and the true facts are presented. We'll let the electorate decide who's Minneapolis it is.

Oh, and don't forget what Powerline had to say about the Current Hennepin County attorney:

""Klobuchar has proved to be an excellent County Attorney. She has vigorously supported the prosecution and incarceration of the gangbangers without the slightest public display of hesitation, handwringing, or apology. Although the competition is not stiff, she is the best Hennepin County Attorney of the past 30 years.""


Posted by: Flash at May 1, 2006 08:45 AM

The reason Pillager lacks gang shootings is there little drug money to fight over. MPLS and St. Paul are the retail center of the drug trade, where the real drug money is to be made. That's what the gangs are fighting for - control of the drug trade profits.

Posted by: linux guy at May 1, 2006 09:55 AM

I dunno about Flash, but if I wanted to find out what the Powerline guys thought about Amy the K, I'd ask them, rather than rely on an almost three-year-old article.

As to how difficult it can be for a Minneapolitan to legally acquire a gun, well, if you've got reliable personal transportation, it's not hard -- there's Metro Pawn and Gun in Richfield. If you're dependent on public transportation, you've got a problem -- Bill's Gun Shop is the only one on the bus lines, and the prices there are very high. Before doing that, of course, you're best off either getting a carry permit or a purchase permit, adding more time, trouble, and expense.

Of course, if you're a gangbanger or other criminal, just hang around Lake and Chicago, or Chicago and 38th or wherever. Not a problem.

Posted by: Joel Rosenberg at May 1, 2006 10:29 AM

"Cuts tied directly to a GOP pillaging of the budget (COPS Program)....So wouldn't that make it Pres. George Bush's Minneapolis. Or when the State GOP along with Governor TPaw strips LGA from the formula and the Urban environments can't even replace the lost federal funds with local resources. Can we then say it is Gov TPaws Minneapolis."

See, here's the basic problem that most decrepit urban areas have, be it public safety, education, transportation -- they insist that other jurisdictions pay to solve their problems. If Minneapolis has a crime problem and needs more police on the streets, why don't you pay for it yourselves? Why rely on the federal or state government to pay for it (and, more than likely, tell you how to run it)? I can see a remote reason for the state to make a small contribution on the premise that the state of Minnesota has a proportionate interest in Minneapolis' public safety, but I can see NO reason for Washington to make any payment whatsoever.

I have no problem with Pawlenty cutting LGA. If local governments want something, go to your constituents and ask them to pay for it; if they won't, either go without or cut something less important. Don't feather your political nest using handouts from larger jurisdictions.

Responsibility. Leadership. Works every time it's tried.

Posted by: Observer at May 1, 2006 10:47 AM

Why all the fuss about guns? All you city folks need to do is buy a red beret. Presto! Crime disapperars!

Posted by: Kermit at May 1, 2006 12:05 PM

Ah yes, the attempt to limit gun ownership by blacks and latinos by forbidding gun sales in metropolitan areas.
The people who run Minneapolis & St. Paul seem to have violated both the 2nd & the 14th amendments to the US constitution without managing to achieve their stated objective of lowering gun crime. Amazing.

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