Shocker: Tsarnaevs didn't have gun permits

Take some comfort in the fact that this will almost certainly be the last dumb meme in the gun-rights debate for a long time to come.  After the Tsarnaev brothers allegedly planted bombs at the Boston Marathon, shot a cop to death in an ambush, and then wounded several more in a gun battle, the fact that the two didn’t have Massachusetts handgun permits has apparently made national news:

The two brothers suspected in the Boston Marathon bombings, who police say engaged in a gun battle with officers early Friday after a frenzied manhunt, were not licensed to own guns in the towns where they lived, authorities said on Sunday.

In the confrontation with police on the streets of a Boston suburb, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were armed with handguns, at least one rifle and several explosive devices, authorities say.

But neither brother appears to have been legally entitled to own or carry firearms where they lived, a fact that may add to the national debate over current gun laws. Last week, the U.S. Senate rejected a bill to expand background checks on gun purchases, legislation that opponents argued would do nothing to stop criminals from buying guns illegally.

And which last week proved. Criminals rarely go to the trouble of applying for gun permits because (a) previous convictions would keep them from getting one anyway, and/or (b) they don’t want to establish paper trails to themselves for police to find.  Criminals, especially those who want to commit high-profile crimes, usually steal their weapons (or buy them illegally, as Reuters notes) and discard them after the crimes so that investigators can’t tie them to the weapons.

So why would this “add to the national debate over current gun laws”? It won’t.  Dzhokhar was already ineligible for a handgun license, being under 21, and Tamerlan probably would have been ineligible because of his conviction for domestic assault.  Did those laws prevent the Tsarnaevs from getting handguns and explosives? That’s a rhetorical question, unless you’ve been asleep for a week.

Furthermore, one would have to have a national debate over gun control for this to contribute to it.  As The Hill reports today, Democrats want to get as far away from that debate as possible after their abject failure to pass legislation:

Democrats in Congress have quickly changed the subject from gun control to immigration reform and are relieved to be moving past an issue that divided them to more solid political ground.

The political momentum from the resounding victories of Election Day stalled earlier in the week when Republicans punched out all three pillars of Obama’s gun-control agenda. …

Until the tragic shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, Democrats never envisioned gun-control would be the first major issue out of the gate this year. The subject barely came up on the campaign trail in 2012.

While the White House officials and Democratic leaders claimed the politics of gun control had changed, vulnerable incumbents saw it as a dangerous issue in rural states.

Sen. Mark Begich (Alaska), one of the Democrats facing a difficult re-election, said expanded background checks would have undermined Alaska values and fundamental rights.

The last thing Democrats want to have right now is a debate on gun control with the Tsarnaevs as Exhibit A.  In fact, they’d like to change the subject to almost anything else.

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