MPR News with Angela Davis

What causes gun violence and how can we stop it? 

Family members of children hit by gunfire
Raishawn Smith (left), father of 9-year-old Trinity Ottoson-Smith; Randy Ottoson, grandfather of Trinity; and K.G. Wilson, grandfather of 6-year-old Aniya Allen, gather at a news conference on May 23 in Minneapolis announcing a reward for information leading to arrests in three recent cases of children being hit by gunfire.
Matt Sepic | MPR News file

Incidents of gun violence across the country started increasing last summer in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the surge shows few signs of letting up.  

Close to 290 people have been killed or wounded by gunshots in Minneapolis in the first half of 2021. That’s about double the number of people hit by bullets in the first six months of each of the previous four years. Homicides jumped from 22 to 40 in that same period.

The deaths of two children hit the Twin Cities especially hard, including 9-year-old Trinity Ottoson-Smith who was shot while jumping on a trampoline at a birthday party and Aniya Allen, 6, who was riding in the back seat of her mother’s car eating a Happy Meal when she was fatally struck. LaDavionne Garrett Jr., 10, is still in critical condition after being shot in the head when the car he was in was sprayed with gunfire. 

Host Angela Davis explores some of the reasons for the national jump in violent crime, and some possible ways to prevent it, with a criminologist and the director of the Office of Violence Prevention for the city of Minneapolis. 


  • Sasha Cotton is the director of the Office of Violence Prevention for the city of Minneapolis. 

  • James Densley is a professor and department chair of criminal justice at Metropolitan State University.

  • Jamil Jackson is the founder and executive director of Change Equals Opportunity, a youth mentoring program in North Minneapolis.

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