Mayor’s Group Listed Tamerlan Tsarnaev as a Gun Victim Because It Copied Slate

Tsarnaev's name was read at a New Hampshire rally against gun violence.

no more names

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Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the organization co-chaired by Mayors Tom Menino and Michael Bloomberg, held an event in Concord, New Hampshire, Tuesday, to read aloud the names of victims of gun violence since the Newtown massacre. This took several hours mostly because there have been quite a few victims of gun violence in recent months, but also because the list was very inclusive … at one point someone read the name “Tamerlan Tsarnaev.”

The readings were part of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns’ 25-state “No More Names” bus tour, which calls attention to gun violence by asking participants, including gun violence victims and their families, to read from a list including over 6,000 victims.

You can probably guess what happened after Tsarnaev’s name came over the microphone: a newspaper report mentioned it, prompting several conservative websites to pick up the tidbit and several groups to react with outraged public statements. “Tamerlan Tsarnaev was a murderous terrorist and a cold-blooded killer,” the state Republican party Chairman Jennifer Horn said, according to the New Hampshire Union Leader. “It is outrageous that Mayor Bloomberg’s gun control group is so radical and out of touch with New Hampshire values that it believes this monster should be labeled as some kind of victim.”

Menino and Bloomberg’s group, of course, quickly issued an apology and an explanation for how Tsarnaev’s name made the cut:

Mayors Against Illegal Guns relied on the public list compiled by entitled ‘How Many People Have Been Killed by Guns Since Newtown?’, and his name was on the list. He was absolutely not a victim, his name should have been deleted before the list was provided to a family member for reading and his name should never have been read. It was a mistake, it should not have happened and we sincerely apologize.

That of course, prompted Slate to explain how Tsarnaev ended up on their list, which seemed like an easier task:

The interactive is not a list of “victims” of gun violence—in fact, the interactive never uses that word, for this very reason. It is a pure accounting of deaths, provided, as our original partner in the project @GunDeaths notes, “regardless of cause and without comment.”

The interactive includes a link to a news story about every death, so that anyone reading it can check the sourcing and see how the death happened. Tsarnaev makes the list because he was killed by gunfire.

A side note: the cause of Tsarnaev’s death also included “blunt trauma,” which resulted when Tsarnaev’s brother Dzhokhar ran him over with their car while attempting an escape. But no matter. The point is that everyone agrees here that Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s fate doesn’t much belong in the debate over gun violence. Of course, the list at that rally included thousands of other people who died from gunshot wounds since Newtown, and what their fates say about gun policy in America is not so easily agreed upon or set aside. But that’s another story.