Donald Oakgrove was walking in his south Minneapolis neighborhood, his baggy clothes and hat signifying rank in the Vice Lords street gang, when a man got out of a car and approached him.

“Hey,” the man said, “do you want to buy a burner?”

Displayed in the stranger’s open trunk was a mini arsenal of handguns and shotguns, more than 20 firearms in all, and soon Oakgrove found himself in possession of a new 9mm pistol. He paid $125.

“I’d carry it everywhere. I’d take a shower with it. I really would,” Oakgrove said. “When I held it in my hand it was just, it gave me so much power.”

Oakgrove, 24, was released from prison in December after serving a term for illegal weapons possession.


Danny Evans was 13 when he got his first gun from his cousin in south Minneapolis. It was an antique four-shot derringer.

“As soon as I got the gun in my hand my ego just shot through the sky,” said Evans, now 25, who’s serving a prison term for illegal weapons possession.

To get other guns, Evans said, he would ask people he knew. They would get them from family members or rob a house. At age 15, he paid $60 for a .22 pistol.

“When I finally did get it, I loved it so much. I broke the gun down. I wiped it down. Looked at it. Talked to it. Wiped down the bullets, you know because I’ve got this crazy fetish for guns. And loaded it up and basically played with it all night. Unloading it, loading it. Pulling the hammer back, closing it, you know, wiping it down, going in the mirror, looking like, ‘Yeah, I’m cool once again.’ ”