The Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) told the City Council that people have been killed by fully automatic weapons in Minneapolis.
“There have been people that have been shot or even killed with automatic gunfire,” an analyst confirmed to the Minneapolis City Council during a meeting Thursday. “It’s a relatively new phenomenon that we haven’t seen in Minneapolis until the end of August and September,” the analyst added. “This is very, very recent.”
He said that the number of people shot or killed in the city by fully-automatic weapons this year is “10 or less.”
The city’s ShotSpotter technology has detected 120 instances of automatic gunfire this year, with 1,341 total rounds detected. In just the last month, Minneapolis has seen 42 instances and 406 rounds of automatic gunfire. For comparison, the city detected 10 instances and 101 rounds in all of 2020.
Fully automatic weapons, also known as machine guns, are those which can dispense more than one round per pull of the trigger. They have been highly regulated since 1934 and effectively banned since 1986. As long ago as 1937, federal officials reported that the sale of machine guns was effectively nonexistent among the civilian population, per the Washington Post.
Fully automatic rifles popping up at crime scenes is “extremely, extremely, extremely rare,” according to Rich Marianos, a former assistant director of the ATF.
Excluding the recently disclosed killings in Minneapolis, fully automatic weapons have only been used in four documented incidents that resulted in death over the last 86 years. Three of these crimes were perpetrated by police or military members who used their service weapons. The fourth killing occurred in 1992 and might not have even involved a machine gun — details about this shooting are scarce.
It is unclear exactly how many people have been killed by machine guns in Minneapolis, but what is very apparent is that their deaths will mark a significant change to gun crime statistics in the U.S.
It is unlikely, however, that more gun control will be the solution to this problem, as fully automatic weapons have already been the most tightly controlled arms throughout American history.
Further, scientific study of gun violence reveals that former President George H.W. Bush’s federal assault weapons ban that lasted from 1994-2004 “did not significantly affect murder rates.” Further, researchers have found that “restrictive concealed weapons laws may cause an increase in gun-related murders.”