October 09, 2017 10:25 PM
Minneapolis Police Federation President Bob Kroll and St. Paul Police Federation President Dave Titus recently returned from a law enforcement conference in Las Vegas.
Both union leaders said it was a surreal experience to be in Las Vegas the week after a deadly mass shooting, and both said they are well aware that the incident has rejuvenated debate over stricter gun laws in the state and across the country.
Neither longtime law enforcement officer, who between them represent more than 1,000 street cops, think stronger gun control laws are viable solutions to reverse a spike in gun violence in their respective cities.
"Stricter gun laws are not the solution for officers on the street, or the general public, because the bad guys will find new ways to get those weapons anyhow," Kroll said.
Kroll said the officers his union represents are frustrated because they are making arrests for illegal guns and gun-related crimes, but the offenders are often back on the street committing the same crime in a matter of months.
"We need to put these habitual offenders away for a long time and not give them chance after chance after chance, which just puts officers and the public at risk," he said.
Minneapolis Police Department records show a 53 percent increase in the number of guns confiscated on the street compared to the same time a year ago.
St. Paul Police Department statistics show the number of reported gunshots in the city are up 50 percent compared to the same time a year ago.
Titus said the city is currently facing a "gun violence crisis," and he agreed with his Minneapolis counterpart that tighter gun laws will not solve the problem.
"What we need is to have everybody come together, come up with a plan to combat this problem, and then city government leaders have to make public safety a top priority again," Titus said.
Former St. Paul Human Rights Commissioner Tyrone Terrill, who also chairs the St. Paul African-American Leadership Council, agreed with Kroll and Titus.
"None of these kids or adults who are committing senseless gun crimes were born with a pistol in their hand," Terrill said. "And making gun control laws tougher will not stop the violence."
Terrill said a lot of gun violence today is rooted in poverty, a lack of mentorship and a feeling of lost hope.
"What these young people need is jobs, opportunity, spirituality, morality and adults who are helping them by leading the way," he said. "Because that is the only real solution to this epidemic -- not more stricter gun laws."
Kroll and Titus said individuals who carry out attacks like the one in Las Vegas are not as big of a threat to public safety as the everyday shootings recorded in Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Said Kroll: "We really are just lucky that many of our daily reports of shots fired end up with either minor injuries, or none at all, because if these bad guys had better aim, the body bag count here would be staggering."
Updated: October 09, 2017 10:25 PM
Created: October 09, 2017 09:35 PM
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