By Dave Workman,
Conservatives and gun rights activists seemed to be in agreement following the jury verdict in the case against an illegal immigrant accused in the 2015 shooting death of Kate Steinle: Only in San Francisco could he be acquitted of second degree murder but convicted of illegal gun possession.
Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, had previously been deported five times. But in the “sanctuary city” of San Francisco he was free to wander around, finding himself at Pier 14 where he allegedly found a handgun wrapped in a cloth. The gun “accidentally” discharged and Steinle was hit in the back by a bullet that allegedly ricocheted off the pavement.
Steinle died in her father’s arms.
Garcia Zarate is a convicted felon, and that put him squarely in the bull’s eye for conviction on the gun charge. The pistol involved in Steinle’s shooting death had been stolen only days before from a car belonging to a ranger for the federal Bureau of Land Management. Steinle’s family is suing that agency.
The verdict brought a swift reaction of outrage from President Donald Trump, who called the verdict “disgraceful.” Attorney General Jeff Sessions blamed the “sanctuary city” policy in San Francisco for having allowed Garcia Zarate on the streets.
Possession of a firearm by a felon can draw up to a three-year sentence in the county jail under California statute. There’s also a possible fine of up to $10,000.
The case has reignited controversy over the “sanctuary city” policy. San Francisco is one of dozens of cities that have adopted such policies. Trump had made the case a campaign issue last year, using it to call for immigration reform and building a wall along the southern border.
But it also serves as a text book example of the false promise of gun control. Restrictive California and federal gun control laws did not keep a gun out of Garcia Zarate’s hands, nor did they prevent Steinle’s slaying. It does provide a way to hand down a conviction on a far lesser charge than second degree murder.
Garcia Zarate may not be out of the woods. According to a spokeswoman for the Department of Justice, that agency is now “considering” filing federal charges.
The case brought public attention to so-called “sanctuary cities” that offer safe harbor to illegal aliens by refusing to cooperate with federal immigration authorities. Garcia Zarate had recently been released in the San Francisco area when he claimed to have found the stolen gun wrapped in a cloth. He claimed the pistol discharged accidentally, sending a bullet to the pier surface, and then it ricocheted and hit Steinle in the back. She was several yards away.
There are new demands to immediately cut off all federal funding to all “sanctuary cities” although federal courts have already ruled against such actions by the administration. In addition to San Francisco, several other cities around the country have declared themselves to be “sanctuaries.” Among them are Portland and Seattle in the Pacific Northwest.