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ATF Says Auto Sears Are Becoming More Common In Twin Cities

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The sound of automatic gunfire is becoming all too common in some Twin Cities neighborhoods.

That has the ATF actively searching for people who have devices that turn semi-automatic weapons into automatic weapons. Field agents are finding more of those devices being used in crimes across the state.

The destruction left behind from multiple rounds being fired is evident in shootings that are plaguing north Minneapolis and Uptown.

"We have encountered them and we are encountering them more frequently than in the past," said Jeff Reed, assistant special agent in charge of the St. Paul Field Office of the ATF.

Reed says auto sears are being used to transform weapons so a single pull of trigger automatically shoots more than one shot, without manual reloading.

"Some of the devices are very easily attached to a firearm or a weapons platform, sometimes in 60 seconds," Reed said.

A video supplied by the ATF shows a converted Glock 9mm pistol and an AR-15 firing automatically.

Gun modified by auto sear
(credit: ATF)

It's important to note firearms companies are not making these devices.

"We've learned that several of these devices can be obtained through the internet via overseas companies. Also these devices are being manufactured by some individuals that have the expertise to do so," said Reed.

Reed and his team are actively searching for these illegal devices and the people making them.

"We also have had some successful indictments concerning possession of auto sears in connection with prohibited persons also possessing firearms," said Reed.

The possession of auto sears can land a person in federal prison for 10 years.

The ATF is looking to the community to help catch those who are shattering the silence of neighborhoods with automatic gunfire.

"We are committed, absolutely committed, to disrupting this pattern of gun violence that we are experiencing and how we do that is by force multiplying our efforts with our local, state and federal partners, but the piece we also need in that is the community," Reed said.

Anonymous tips can be submitted to the ATF through the Report It mobile app or by visiting the Report It website. When submitting a tip select ATF-St Paul Field Division as the reporting agency.

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