Pistols and rifles, which have been converted to fully automatic weapons that can fire up to 1,200 rounds per minute, have been used in a spate of gunfire in Minneapolis and have begun appearing at many crime scenes, authorities say.
The city’s ShotSpotter network recorded 78 automatic shots of 935 shots, up from five such assets of 42 shots at that time last year, according to police, according to the Star Tribune. The increase in firepower comes as the city approaches last year’s record of 551 firearm casualties.
Cointrell Urman, founder of the street advocacy group Turf Politics, said he constantly heard machine gun fire as he walked around.
“There are a lot of them,” he said. “They are everywhere”.
It’s unclear how many converted weapons are on the city’s streets, but authorities are tracking incidents involving him, said Jeffrey Reed, an assistant special agent in charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in St. Paul.
Conventional semi-automatic pistols fire one shot each time the trigger is pulled, but automatic weapons will fire continuously until the trigger is released. Converting a pistol to an automatic weapon involves illegal devices commonly known as “Glock switches” or “auto-ignitors” that are available on the Internet or can be made on 3D printers.
Recent footage in Minneapolis shows just how ubiquitous these devices are. In August, ShotSpotter recorded 27 rounds of automatic weapons at a gas station, killing one person. Also in August, police said that a modified fully automatic pistol was used in a shootout on busy Uptown Street, which resulted in more than 100 shots fired and seven people injured. Earlier this year, two men were injured by automatic gunfire during a house party.
Shane Hallow, president of the Hennepin County Paramedics and Emergency Medicine Association, Hennepin’s union of medical and ambulance dispatchers, said that with automatic weapons, victims are more likely to be shot multiple times, lowering the chances of survival or multiple victims.
“If you shoot three or four times in a row at the torso, it’s more likely to hit major arteries or organs,” he said.