As the circumstances surrounding the death of 32 year Kathryn Steinle at the hands of a repeatedly deported criminal illegal immigrant last Wednesday continue to unfold a powerful, awful truth has come to light. It is a truth that is maddening, sickening and chilling all at the same time.
As I wrote yesterday, the shooting of Ms. Steinle on a bayside public promenade in downtown San Francisco by seven time felon, illegal immigrant and multi-time deportee, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez has gripped the city and the nation. The sordid details of Lopez-Sanchez’s criminal history, his jailhouse interview where he confessed to shooting Steinle as well as to coming to San Francisco “to work” because of the city’s now harshly criticized sanctuary city policy, and his multiple deportations are all coming to light.
What has also come to light is a pattern of inefficiency, evasion of duty and malfeasance by government officials at the local and federal level across many departments when it comes to the handling of illegal immigrants convicted of felony crimes who are turned out into the population to offend again or who, if we are so lucky to see them deported, turn around and come right back across the obviously wide open border. Lopez-Sanchez did…. six times. This pattern on the part of government is not new. It goes on every day in California and I saw it at work on more than a few occasions in my law enforcement career. There are thousands, if not tens of thousands, of criminal illegal immigrants like Juan Lopez-Sanchez out and about on our streets. Some studies find that they re-offend after release or the deportation / re-entry cycle at a rate of 50% more. There are murderers, rapists, armed robbers, gang members, drug runners and all other manner of offenses across their rap sheets. That the federal government, which is supposed to control immigration, dithers away while state and local government in California and San Francisco throw open the doors and offer sanctuary and assistance would be seen in a different time and place as both stupid and suicidal at a societal level. Today it’s celebrated as an example of the tolerance and diversity we must strive to.
But the latest surprise in this sordid affair rolled in late yesterday afternoon. San Francisco police investigators announced that they had identified the murder weapon as a Sig Sauer .40 caliber pistol, not unlike the model I carried for a number of years as a police officer. They went on to note that the gun was stolen. Nothing unusual there as more than 95% of the guns used in violent crime are illegally obtained. They then mentioned that the owner of the gun was a federal law enforcement officer and the gun was stolen from his car back in June.
We are told, quite often, that only the police and the military should have firearms. They are the only people, some anti-gunners say, who are truly competent enough to be trusted with such awesome responsibility and use it judiciously. Many political leaders in San Francisco believe exactly that and make no bones about saying so. But in all my years of carrying a gun I never left one in a car in such a manner that it could be stolen simply by breaking a window or forcing a trunk. Come to think of it, I shoot and teach pretty regularly today and have to transport guns all the time and I am not so careless that any of them get stolen.
Of course it should also be pointed out that a number of law enforcement agencies around the country, and a number of federal agencies in particular, have had an increasingly hard time keeping track of their guns over the past couple of decades and actually seem to lose them at a pretty alarming rate. Even the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives which assiduously and voraciously regulates lawful commerce in firearms in the US is not immune to misplacing a gun or two.
At the end of today the picture is becoming agonizingly clear to me. While Juan Lopez-Sanchez may have pulled the trigger and fired three bullets into Kathryn Steinle, he didn’t kill her. Government did. Lazy, bloated, politically hackneyed, inefficient, duplicitous and inflexible government stood by and allowed Lopez-Sanchez to be turned back out on the street time and again after felony convictions. When government did deport him it didn’t act responsibly when he came back into the country again. Government hid him from itself to shield him from yet another meaningless deportation. And, in the end, government apparently put the gun in his hand through it’s own ineptness and carelessness, the gun he used to shoot Kathryn Steinle to death. It was not a beast that killed the beauty. It was government in all it’s glory.
Turns out Ronald Reagan was more right than we ever might have thought.