Chicago police officers will be equipped with M4 carbines to match the firepower of the street gangs they’re up against, under a policy change in the works to stop the bloodshed on the streets, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. Police Superintendent Jody Weis’ decision to arm and train his 13,500 officers with more powerful weapons was disclosed as Mayor Richard Daley emerged from a City Hall summit meeting with a plea to every Chicagoan who cares about children.
Police SWAT teams are already equipped with M4 carbines, but rank-and-file officers are out-gunned. They’re allowed to carry only pistols. When you’re up against a street gang member armed with an AK-47, that’s like taking a BB-gun to a battle. Used by the U.S. Marine Corps, the M4 is an assault rifle that fires more shots in less time than a conventional handgun. The fully automatic version can fire up to 1,000 rounds a minute, although the magazines hold 20 to 30 shots. Police recently arrested a man suspected of using an AK-47 during a shoot-out with police just after he allegedly used the gun to kill a man at a plumbing business. Fraternal Order of Police President Mark Donahue welcomed the change, as long as the Police Department pays for the weapons and officers are properly trained and given discretion in using the M4. New York City police officers recently started patrolling subways with similar assault weapons and bomb-sniffing dogs. In the Chicago area, some suburban police departments have carried assault weapons since the mid-1990s.