Minneapolis police chief says presence of legal guns causes more crime

"More guns legally available in circulation" means there are more guns that could become "involved in crimes," said Brian O’Hara, the new Minneapolis police chief.

police chief
Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O'Hara appears on PBS. (PBS/YouTube)

In a PBS interview, Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O’Hara explained that one problem he believes Minneapolis is facing is the presence of legal firearms.

“The bottom line is we have to acknowledge that guns are designed to kill people. That’s what they’re for,” O’Hara said.

O’Hara, originally from New Jersey, took over as police chief in November 2022 following the retirement of Medaria Arradondo. In a January interview with Mpls.-St. Paul Magazine, O’Hara said there is evidence that “even just legal sales have an effect on the supply of guns available to be used in crimes.”

“Having more guns legally available in circulation [leads to] more guns that are available then to be stolen, to be lost, to wind up in straw purchases. All of those types of things do have an effect on the guns that are available to become involved in crimes,” O’Hara told PBS. “It’s been very striking to me … just the incredible amount of guns that are available in circulation here.”

O’Hara said police remove an average of three illegal guns from the streets every day but sometimes “it feels like we’re just not making a dent.”

“When people live in a situation where they feel unsafe, where crime is higher than it had been before, I think we will wind up having more people carrying guns, including people who would not normally carry them, simply because they feel afraid,” he continued. “And I think we have to acknowledge that the presence of a firearm increases the risk of someone being hurt.”

Crime Watch Minneapolis has tracked dozens of cases where the judicial system has failed to hold criminals accountable for illegal firearm possession and other gun crimes.

When asked about the “abolish the police” movement, O’Hara said that “most reasonable people” would agree “it’s ridiculous to say defund the police.” The new police chief believes those who called for defunding police were speaking from a “very privileged, sort of bourgeois liberal position.”

O’Hara shared that he believes the two main problems facing those who reside in Minneapolis are gun violence and police legitimacy. He he hopes to fix those problems using his experience at the Newark Police Department, where he was responsible for implementing a consent decree with the Department of Justice.


Hayley Feland

Hayley Feland previously worked as a journalist with The Minnesota Sun, The Wisconsin Daily Star, and The College Fix. She is a Minnesota native with a passion for politics and journalism.