Chicago off to deadly start in January, as weekend shootings puts total of homicides at 40

A bloody weekend in which seven people died has put an abrupt end, for now, to hopes that Chicago might be putting a lid on its homicide rate.

The homicides put the total for the year thus far at 40 — the same as for January 2012. That year ended with the city seeing more than 500 homicides for the first time since 2008.

With a few days still left in the month, Chicago is poised to have the deadliest January since 2002, when there were 45.

Police say the violence underscores the need for tougher gun laws and tougher penalties for those who break the gun laws.

They say their gang-fighting strategy is effective and that the violence might have been even worse had police not launched that strategy.