POLITICS
04/22/2013 10:29 am ET | Updated Apr 22, 2013

Boston Bombing Suspects Did Not Have Gun Licenses

WASHINGTON -- The Boston bombing suspects engaged in a deadly firefight with police last week, possessing six bombs, handguns, a rifle and more than 250 rounds of ammunition. But the Tsarnaev brothers did not have proper licenses to possess the firearms, according to the Cambridge Police Department -- a revelation that comes just days after the Senate voted against strengthening and expanding background checks for gun sales.

Cambridge Police Department spokesman Dan Riviello told The Huffington Post that neither Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, nor Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, appeared to have a license to own a handgun.

"The younger brother could not have applied as he is not 21 years of age and the older brother did not have a license to carry and we have no record of him ever applying," Riviello said.

Under state law, residents under 21 can obtain a firearms ID card that allows them to own shotguns or rifles that hold 10 rounds or less.

Reuters reported that the police in Dartmouth, Mass., where the younger brother was a student, also had no record of gun licenses or ID cards for either brother.

Last week, the Senate voted against expanding and strengthening background checks for firearms purchases. Under current law, people wishing to obtain a gun need to have a background check for certain types of purchases -- such as from a licensed dealer -- but do not have to go through that process for other types of sales.

A background check could have caused problems for Tamerlan. Department of Homeland Security officials decided not to grant him citizenship after what The New York Times called a "routine background check" revealed that FBI officials had interviewed him in 2011, at the request of the Russian government, which was concerned that he had ties to Chechen terrorists. He was also reportedly involved in an episode of domestic violence in 2009 against his girlfriend.

A majority of the Senate supported the legislation to strengthen background checks, but it failed to get the 60 votes needed to move ahead. The vast majority of the American public also backs expanding background checks.

Riviello said the Cambridge Police Department did not have information on how the brothers obtained their firearms.

The Tsarnaev brothers are also accused of shooting a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer, hijacking a car at gunpoint and shooting a police officer in Watertown, Mass.

This story has been updated to include information on Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

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