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A drive-by shooting (or drive-by) is a form of hit-and-run tactic, a personal attack carried out by an individual or individuals from a moving or momentarily stopped vehicle. It often results in bystanders being shot instead of, or as well as, the intended target. The objective is to overwhelm the target by a sudden, massive amount of firepower without attention to accuracy.

The tactic of drive-by shooting originated when assailants would ride up to their targets on horseback, shoot them with wheellock pistols and then riding off before they could be apprehended. Some of the first gun control laws were developed to combat these shootings.[1]


Military use

The British military used this form of drive-by shooting in its campaigns in North Africa and France during the Second World War. Columns of heavily armed jeeps, bristling with machine guns, would drive past and sometimes through enemy positions, usually airfields and supply depots, shooting anything and everything.[citation needed]

In the first decade of the 21st century, drive-by shootings were used by militants in Iraq, including the assassinations of Waldemar Milewicz[2] and Hatem Kamil.[3]

Gang murders

Drive-by shootings have been employed by gang members since the Prohibition era of the 1920s in the United States. Then used mostly to disrupt distribution of alcohol by rivals, it is now used to commit revenge murder. Drive-bys are an efficient way of taking out rivals, as it allows the perpetrators to not only flee from the police but also quickly get out of a rival's territory.

Political assassinations

Drive-by assassinations of political leaders have been common in some regions and eras. It was one of the tactics used by groups such as the Red Army Faction, the Red Brigades and November 17. The November 17, 2000 assassination of Brigadier Stephen Saunders was carried out by assassins on motorcycle who approached the vehicle while it was stopped at a traffic light and shot him dead before speeding off.

For a time in the 1970s the German special operations unit GSG 9 trained some of its operators in the "art" of the drive-by shooting so as to be able to better protect those in its charge.

In the Israeli - Palestine conflict

Palestinian militants have conducted drive-by shootings, examples include the Killing of Rabbi Meir Hai, the August 2010 West Bank shooting, the September 2010 West Bank shooting and other incidents during 2010.

Palestinians have claimed that the Israeli military have killed Palestinian activists in drive-by shootings.[4]

See also


  1. Lisa Jardine, The Awful End of Prince William the Silent: The First Assassination of a Head of State with a Hand-Gun (2005).
  2. BBC article about murder of Waldemar Milewicz.
  3. BBC news article on Hatem Kamil's assassination.
  4. Joshua Ruebner, Clyde Mark, Kenneth Katzman, Alfred Prados (2001-01-05). "The Current Palestinian Uprising: Al-Aqsa Intifadah" (pdf). CRS Report for Congress. Retrieved 2010-09-28.

External links

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