By Jennifer Mayerle

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — As the metro has seen an uptick in violent crime this summer, recently released Bureau of Criminal Apprehension statistics point to staggering numbers in 2020. It shows a significant increase, up 16.6% from 2019; 75% of murders last year were committed with a firearm.

Guns are also used in other violent crimes. The guns used in crimes, and found in the hands of felons, come from a variety of places.

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WCCO spoke with Anders Folk, acting U.S. Attorney in Minnesota, about the pipeline, and enforcement efforts aimed at stopping violent crimes.

“We’ll see stolen firearms. We’ll see firearms that have been passed from person to person to person for use in different gun crimes. We’re seeing any number of sources,” Folk said. “Guns can be getting on streets through straw purchasers, stolen.”

Earlier this week, Folk’s office charged an Eden Prairie woman with straw purchasing, accusing her of buying 14 guns for someone else, which is illegal. Documents show authorities recovered two of the guns at crime scenes where people were shot in the Twin Cities.

Last week a man pleaded guilty to possession of a stolen firearm from a 2020 incident. In that case, the convicted felon — who is prohibited from having a gun — admitted he knew it was likely stolen because he bought it on the street without filling out any paperwork.

Folk says his office is focused on doing its part to curb gun violence through a Department of Justice program called Project Safe Neighborhoods.

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“Who are our most violent criminals? Who are most prone to have a gun in their hand and to use it as part of a violent crime?” Folk said. “Focus like a laser on those individuals.”

Often federal charges carry longer sentences.

Folk believes it will take local, state and federal agencies working together to reduce gun crimes with a methodical and long-term approach.

“I think we’re going to have to measure success by are we bringing down the numbers of shootings, are we bringing down the numbers of gun crimes,” Folk said.

And on those longer federal sentences, Folk says the more severe punishments are a way to deter and stop people who are committing the most violent crimes.

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Project Safe Neighborhood also focuses on prevention and intervention.

Jennifer Mayerle