R.I.P., Kate Steinle—and God Help the Rest of Us

Some day, I will be able to speak freely about several subjects that weigh very heavily on my heart at the moment. As a teacher of over thirty years’ experience, I am dismayed, disgusted, and even infuriated by things that I see going on around me… but I must not speak. Not yet.

So I’ll content myself, at the moment, with a few comments about the liberation of Kate Steinle’s killer by a San Francisco jury last week.

Yes, it was a jury’s decision, and not an activist judge’s, for a change. Yet the judge could have thrown out the verdict, as I understand, had he or she determined that the jury ignored its instructions and willfully disregarded the letter of the law. I don’t know how this could be said not to have happened when the shooter, a convicted felon, was in possession of a firearm. That act in itself is already a crime, whether the felon shoots the piece or not. If he merely touches it, he’s in violation of the law. Nevertheless, the sterling character in question was exonerated on that charge.

Neither do I understand how a defendant is allowed to walk when his defense is a patchwork of lies, many of them trimmed with other lies when the earlier versions sprang leaks. I accuse you of emptying out my wall safe. You say, No, I spent that evening at my auntie’s. Well, that’s not what you aunt says. Oh, did I say “aunt”? I meant “uncle”! Well, your uncle’s been dead for three years. But I was at his house. No, you weren’t: the new owners don’t know you. But I was going over there to fetch some stuff, but my car broke down….

Now, nothing in such a line of questioning establishes that you in fact possess the contents of my safe. You have lied so many times in seeking an alibi, however, that your evasions may—and should—be construed as evidence of guilt.

But not in San Francisco.

Apparently, Franciscans are so blissfully, virtuously ignorant of the operation of firearms, furthermore, that they are incompetent to pass judgment on an act involving one. You cannot fire a gun with your toe—not unless you’re a chimp, and your heel can bend like the palm of your hand to restrain the handle as the trigger is compressed. (Was our innocent murderer shoeless? Did anyone even ask? You certainly can’t pull a trigger with a sneaker!) The bullet is supposed to have ricocheted upward into Ms. Steinle’s heart. What did it hit? A forty-caliber slug would have to encounter something pretty solid to gain four feet of height within fifty feet of distance—always assuming that the gun was lying flat on the pier. Did anyone bother to reconstruct the incident? What hard surface did the bullet strike?

Of course, my guess is that it didn’t matter, and wouldn’t matter. California juries are composed of people who intend to go to sleep that night wrapped in a warm confidence that they are morally superior to the rest of the nation. They’re not going to bully people of other cultures. The poor immigrant fellow was just trying to make his way in the world. The real villain here is the NRA—because without the NRA, there would be no guns. And so on, and so on… nighty-night.

How many of our neighbors and our relatives will have to die so that these pompous idiots can curl up in their solipsistic, sociopathic utopianism every hour of every day?

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