SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Gun violence continues to rise in the Sioux Falls area. That’s one of the main takeaways from a public safety briefing held by city and county officials Monday morning.
Assaults and robberies are up while rape and murder are down. But law enforcement in Sioux Falls say the most disturbing trend is the rise in gun violence.
Mayor Paul TenHaken says we live in a safe community but says the days of fist fights are over.
“There are more guns. We are a state that loves the Second Amendment, as do I, but there are more firearms and there are also more people quite honestly willing to use firearms,” TenHaken said.
Minnehaha County Sheriff Mike Milstead says the majority of the gun violence is fueled by drugs.
“There was a day when some of the drugs dealers carried firearms. Well, it’s changed completely now. Drug dealers are carrying firearms and drug users, many of the users of these drugs are willing to arm themselves,” Milstead said.
Authorities say many of the guns used in crimes are stolen. Minnehaha County State’s Attorney Daniel Haggar says gun owners have a responsibility to secure their firearms, especially guns left in vehicles.
“You don’t want one of your guns used to shoot at law enforcement to shoot at children, innocent people… So you can make it harder for them to obtain firearms if you are just safe with those,” Haggar said.
Sheriff Milstead says much of the increase in the use of guns involves repeat offenders and young people.
“Quite frankly, I’ve been in this job for a long time, over 24 years on the Sioux Falls Police department and 25 years as your sheriff, I have never been more concerned about the safety of our men and women in uniform than I am today,” Milstead said.
TenHaken says Sioux falls isn’t alone when it comes to a rise in gun violence. Rapid City is also seeing many of the same problems. He envisions both cities working together even more in the future.
Sioux Falls Police Chief Jon Thum says they are looking at prevention programs that would target younger people about the dangers and serious consequences of using firearms.