Assault rifles have become a weapon of choice in Chicago gang warfare over the past 18 months, reports the city’s Tribune. The trend emerged in 2016 in violence between two gangs, the Saints and La Razas. Nearly a year and a half later, more than 140 people have been shot — 50 of them fatally — by gang members wielding rifles as their use has spread across the South and Southwest sides. If used by someone trained to shoot, the weapons can hit a target from 650 yards. A city block is 220 yards.
Fewer gang members stand outside traditional hangouts, throwing bottles, rocks and gang signs and harassing passing motorists. With fewer obvious targets, gangs have turned to cars and vans, often stolen, to chase down and shoot rivals. Gangs have formed alliances and have gone outside their groups to acquire guns. One gang called on its members across the city to join the conflict. Officers have been warned about the risks of approaching gang members in certain areas because rifle rounds can penetrate their body armor. In the past few weeks, authorities have recovered at least 11 rifles, both while on patrol and as part of search warrants and long-term investigations aimed at containing the conflict.