Young women buying guns for criminals in Minnesota

When it comes to guns used in crimes, Minnesota appears to be somewhat of an anomaly.

Young women in Minnesota are often involved in buying guns for criminals, according to authorities, a practice that is not often seen in other parts of the country.

Another odd Minnesota trend: Many of the guns used in crimes are legally purchased here in the state, and criminals tend to keep them afterward, says Bernard Zapor, special agent with the St. Paul division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Women, especially those younger than 30, are being recruited by men who are unable to buy guns because of their criminal records, according to the Star Tribune. In what's called a "straw purchase," the men give the women cash to buy a gun that is immediately given to the ex-felon. In some cases, they are not paid at all.

Zapor says there is no concrete data on this trend, but that the ATF  traces all the firearms used in crimes, and the bureau has been noticing frequently that purchasers of these guns through licensed firearm dealers are very often young women.

"It gives the police an additional person to talk to," Zapor says. "It's uncommon that the person who bought it is the person who uses it. Usually there's some kind of a relationship -- girlfriend, boyfriend, or they're getting paid to do it."

As far as criminals keeping guns after the crime, Zapor says it's clearly not the smartest practice, but the ATF sees it a lot.

"It has a lot to do with the quality of the gun," Zapor says. "It's a branding thing, like if someone owns an expensive gun they won't part with it. It's like having a Gibson guitar versus a cheap knockoff manufactured in China."

Zapor says both of these trends seen so clearly here in Minnesota might not be unique to the state. "Any anomaly is going to stand out greater here in the Twin Cities because the numbers are smaller," he says. "It could be going on in larger cities, too. It's not necessarily happening more here, but it's easier to see here."

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