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The gun nuts who stormed the Capitol proved that gun control works

As bad as the insurrection at the Capitol was, it would have been infinitely worse if the mob incited by the president had been allowed to openly carry firearms in the District of Columbia.

Lauren Boebert wore her gun while campaigning last September in Colorado.
Lauren Boebert wore her gun while campaigning last September in Colorado.KELSEY BRUNNER/NYT

Lost in all the shock and horror precipitated by the Trump-inspired insurrection at the Capitol is the undeniable lesson that, when used smartly, gun control works.

It is forever a stain on the president and his seditious supporters that five people died in the putsch, but it would have been infinitely worse if the gun-loving insurrectionists had carried weapons as openly as so many of them do in their home states.

The police did find a dozen or so weapons on people they arrested before and after the attack, but if Washington’s firearms laws weren’t as strict as they are, thousands of hyped-up gun nuts who took part in the insurrection would have been armed.

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The District of Columbia has some of the nation’s strictest gun laws, which would be even more restrictive except for a 2008 Supreme Court decision that found the district’s ban on handguns unconstitutional. While the Metropolitan Police issue concealed-carry permits, it is a stringent process and there is no reciprocal agreement with other states. Open carry is strictly prohibited, and large swaths of the city are gun-free zones, including the US Capitol buildings and grounds.

This week, when some Republican lawmakers from states that let just about anyone walk around with an assault rifle strapped to their chest or a pistol in their purse showed up on Capitol Hill and found metal detectors had been installed, they behaved as children would at a birthday party when told there would be no cake.

One of them, a walking, squawking parody of Annie Oakley named Lauren Boebert, caused a scene just a week into her first term as a congresswoman from Colorado.

The queen of gun nuts, Boebert runs a bar called Shooters in a town called Rifle. Seriously.

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She walks around her bar and restaurant with a holstered gun on her hip, and insists all her waitresses do the same.

Boebert, 34, bears a resemblance to a young Sarah Palin and makes Palin seem like a member of Mensa. Boebert brags about carrying her Glock everywhere. On Wednesday she barged her way through the security line at the Capitol and ignored police who ordered her to stop. In a previous standoff, she refused to allow police to search her handbag.

As The New York Times described her, Boebert “represents an incoming faction of the party for whom breaking the rules — and gaining notoriety for doing it — is exactly the point.”

The Colorado Sun described her as a “high school dropout with a history of minor run-ins with the law.”

Swell. The party of law and order has become the party of neither.

It is supremely ironic that people like Boebert swear unquestioning fealty to cops, no matter the behavior of some rogue officers, but chafe when law enforcement tries to treat them like any other citizen.

Boebert, like the 146 other Republicans who continued to entertain conspiracy theories about a stolen election even after those lies led to an insurrection, sees no conflict in that position, or in trucking in the same nonsense as the rabble who murdered a police officer and attacked countless others.

During the attack, Boebert tweeted out Nancy Pelosi’s location, leading some to accuse her of siccing the insurrectionists on the House speaker. Boebert said CNN had reported Pelosi’s movements, too.

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Representative Mikie Sherrill, a New Jersey Democrat and former Navy helicopter pilot, charged that some of her Republican colleagues gave tours of the Capitol to groups that included some who returned the next day to take part in the insurrection.

Sherrill offered no proof, but her accusation bears serious investigation. Getting to the bottom of whether members of Congress wittingly or unwittingly facilitated a reconnaissance mission for an insurrection by unhinged traitors is even more important than the impeachment hearings.

We already know what Trump is. Time to focus on his enablers in Congress.


Kevin Cullen is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at kevin.cullen@globe.com.