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Boston Marathon bombing moves from solidarity to partisan politics

Partisanship was absent in the days following the Boston Marathon bombing. Now, political issues are entering into the discussion, including gun control, immigration, and national security.

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On Fox News, Chris Wallace asked how many people in the Watertown area where Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had hid “might like a gun to be able to protect themselves and defend their homes?”

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Since the Tsarnaev brothers – ethnically Chechen – had emigrated to the United States, their legal status was sure to come up as well. (Tamerlan had a green card, and his younger brother had become a US citizen).

In a hearing Friday, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, tied the Boston bombing to the debate over immigration reform.

"Given the events of this week, it’s important for us to understand the gaps and loopholes in our immigration system," he said. "How can individuals evade authorities and plan such attacks on our soil? How can we beef up security checks on people who wish to enter the US? How do we ensure that people who wish to do us harm are not eligible for benefits under the immigration laws, including this new bill before us?"

There is a national security consideration here as well, since the older brother had recently spent six months in Russia, which has been battling Chechen separatists, some of whom are Islamic fundamentalists.

Russian officials had warned the US about Tamerlan Tsarnaev, and critics say officials here should have been more alert to what it turns out he allegedly was plotting.

On Saturday, key Republican lawmakers – Rep. Peter King of New York and Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina – urged the Obama administration to prosecute the younger Tsarnaev brother as an enemy combatant, which would deny him certain legal rights afforded those charged in civilian courts. Others have suggested that he be sent to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

“It is clear the events we have seen over the past few days in Boston were an attempt to kill American citizens and terrorize a major American city," the lawmakers said in a statement Saturday. "The accused perpetrators of these acts were not common criminals attempting to profit from a criminal enterprise, but terrorists trying to injure, maim, and kill innocent Americans."

To some activists, even domestic violence may be a consideration in processing the Boston bombing. The connection here is that Tamerlan Tsarnaev reportedly had been arrested for domestic violence in 2009 after assaulting his girlfriend.

“The introduction of the element of domestic violence into this equation raises red flags for domestic violence experts and advocates,” officials with the Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence said in a statement Saturday. “We continue to work with our partners as this information is unfolding in order to expand and deepen our shared understanding of the connections between domestic violence and other forms of violence.”

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