Rifle or Assault Weapon? Tribune expose on gang use of these weapons seems to have missed the memo.

A tribune article dedicated to exposing the increasing use of AR-15 and AK-47 type rifles curiously didn’t call these weapons “assault rifles”. In fact the article uses the phrase exactly once while quoting a police officer.

The gunman hit the bike but not the driver. An officer found .223-caliber casings, the kind used in rifles modeled after the AR-15. The rounds leave large, jagged wounds. If used by someone trained to shoot, they can hit a target from 650 yards. A city block is 220 yards.

Two gangs — the Saints and La Razas — had been sporadically using rifles for six months. This was the fourth rifle shooting in seven days. It would get much worse in the months ahead, something an officer at the scene seemed to sense.

“We got a problem with the two gangs running around. Each one of ’em has a military assault weapon,” he radioed, asking for an evidence technician. “This is one of the rifles they used today. We need those rifles off the street for police safety and citizen safety.”

The rest of the article refers to these weapons merely as “rifles” 63 times as I counted. Why? Haven’t we been conditioned to think of AR-15s and AK-47s as “assault rifles”, “assault weapons”, or “military style weapons”?

I’m wondering why in a news story about the use of these guns by gangs in Chicago is different than the news stories about lone gunmen that use the same weapons in a different context or setting.

Read the article in the Chicago Tribune