(Image source: iStock)
There are many reasons that citizens vote for a candidate. Blue-collar families often vote for the one who will bring back manufacturing jobs. Military families often vote for the one who will leave no man behind. For me, public safety is a primary consideration. People have a finite amount of sympathy. I'm sure Mother Teresa had more than I do, but even hers was not unlimited. Wisely, she spent hers for the poor. But many people are not wise. They spend their sympathy on illegal immigrants and criminals, leaving none for law-abiding citizens. Take, for instance, the cases of Sarah McKinley and Kathryn Steinle.
Sarah McKinley was home with her three-month-old son on New Year's Eve 2013. She lived in the rural community of Blanchard, Oklahoma, and police response times tended to be long. She was an 18-year-old widow. Her husband had died of cancer a few days earlier.
When she saw two men attempting to break in, McKinley recognized one as a man who had been stalking her since her husband's funeral. Apparently he was looking for drugs in the cancer victim's home. She gave her baby a bottle, then retrieved a shotgun and a handgun and barricaded the door. She phoned 911 and asked what to do. She was told she could not shoot unless they came through the door. The 911 dispatcher, though, who was a woman, added, "You do what you have to do to protect your baby."
It took police 14 minutes to arrive from the time McKinley called 911. Two minutes before they arrived, Justin Shane Martin broke down McKinley's barricaded front door, holding a 12-inch hunting knife in his gloved hand. She fired the shotgun, killing the Martin. His companion fled. He later turned himself in to police.
Later Sarah explained:
"I knew that I was going to have to choose him or my son, and it wasn't going to be my son, so I did what I had to do. There's nothing more dangerous than a mother with a child."
If we truly want to "save just one life," we will remember Sarah McKinley and all those like her. We will read the work of John Lott, especially More Guns, Less Crime, which demonstrates that violent crime decreases when more law-abiding citizens are armed, after background checks and suitable training, and does not necessarily decrease with strict gun laws, as in France. We will read the work of Dr. Gary Kleck, especially Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America, which shows that guns are used more often to defend against violent crime than to commit it.
It is bizarre that "progressives" who claim to fear the imposition of a "Nazi" regime by President Trump or others, are the same people who work to disarm the citizenry. They seem utterly unaware of the glaring contradiction.
If we truly want to "save just one life," we would be guided by logic instead of emotions.
Like many left-leaning cities, San Francisco declared itself a "sanctuary city," so that illegal immigrants would be reported to Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) only if they commit violent felonies. The supremacy of federal law is a concept that seems to have eluded San Francisco's officials. In fact, thousands of illegal immigrants have been released from custody in California without immigration officials being notified. In fact, about 39% of the federal prison population is composed of illegal aliens (as of 2013), of whom more than 25,000 have been arrested for homicide.
How well the "sanctuary city" program works was illustrated with striking clarity in the person of José Inés García Zárate (also known as Juan Francisco López-Sánchez), who shot and killed Kathryn Steinle on July 1, 2015. García Zárate was an illegal immigrant and convicted felon who had been deported five times before killing Steinle.
García Zárate was released from jail in San Francisco on April 15, 2015. ICE had filed the detainer request to be notified prior to García Zárate's release from custody, so that he could be deported again. But San Francisco authorities followed their policy and refused to honor the hold, because García Zárate had not committed a violent felony.
Two months later, García Zárate shot 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle, who died in her father's arms at a tourist attraction on Pier 14. Steinle had worked for a medical technology company.
Eventually, a San Francisco jury acquitted García Zárate of murder or manslaughter, and found him guilty only of illegal weapons possession. Of course, he will not receive the death penalty, because California no longer has one. Correction: California no longer has a death penalty for people like García Zárate, but it evidently does have one for people like Kathryn Steinle.
Her last words were, "Dad, help me, help me." But her dad could not help her. It was up to us to help her by keeping the streets as safe as possible. We did not. We used up all our sympathy on those who do not deserve it, leaving none for those who do deserve it. We made a "sanctuary city" that was safe for José Inés García Zárate, but extremely unsafe for Kathryn Michelle Steinle.
* * *
In the case of gun control, excessive regulations are more likely to cost lives than to save them. If you doubt this, just ask Sarah McKinley. How else could one expect a young mother to defend herself and her baby against armed intruders? What could she be expected to do when the police had not yet arrived and an man breaks down her door, holding a 12-inch hunting knife in his gloved hand? If she had not had that shotgun, she would probably be dead, as would her baby.
Here, gun-control activists with their "if it will save just one life" rhetoric actually would have cost two lives. Yet somehow, people like Sarah McKinley just do not register on the "progressive" radar. People like Sarah McKinley and her baby are dumped into Hillary Clinton's "basket of deplorables" or are included in Barack Obama's bitter clingers who want to hold onto their religion and guns.
After all, how can we expect the self-anointed elite -- the graduates of prestigious Ivy League universities -- to concern themselves with ignorant rednecks? They are much too elevated for that. When they say "social justice," they often seem to mean big government controlling virtually every aspect of daily life. But their version of "social justice" somehow fails to include the very lives of Sarah McKinley and her child.
Ironically, if the advocates of tight gun control had their way, Sarah McKinley and her baby would probably be dead, and if the advocates of tight border control had their way, Kathryn Steinle would probably be alive.
When it comes to illegal immigration, as well as to other policies many "progressives" appear to favor, they never seem to remember their beloved mantra of "if it will save just one life." If our borders were more secure, and if our immigration laws were more conscientiously enforced, and -- most of all -- if San Francisco had not declared itself a "sanctuary city," Kathryn Steinle would still be alive, working at the medical technology company, interacting with her close-knit family, and charming others with her smile.
Dr. David C. Stolinsky, a retired physician, is based in the US.