Charge of the hobbyhorse brigade

The story of the Katie Steinle killing has taken a new direction, with the “breaking news” that the gun used by her killer was stolen from the car of a federal agent; though whether it was a service weapon or personally owned is an open question at this writing. And the right-hand-side of my internet is all about the carelessness of the agent (with gratuitous Project Gunwalker references as well.) I was already somewhat uncomfortable with how this story is being used by the right to saddle up and go after immigration policy, because the drifter who picked up a gun and let his DTs pull the trigger (his own explanation, basically) happened to be an illegal alien – as though only an illegal alien could have committed this tragedy. But if the owner of the firearm hadn’t been a federal agent, the very same people pointing and laughing would instead be pre-emptively defending the firearm owner and waiting for the other side to wave their bloody shirt for the cause of lost-and-stolen, and firearms registration, and strict liability.

Someone was tragically and negligently killed last week, by another person who is, by the accounts I’ve seen, remorseful and at least partially willing to accept responsibility (he appears to have pleaded not guilty in his first court appearance, despite the admission of guilt in the interview). Using it as an example of Something Must Be Done is just as much waving the bloody shirt as what the other side does under other circumstances. I get it, tragedy grabs eyeballs, and it’s tempting to try and use that to advance a cause. But if I don’t like it when the other side does it, I ought to also not like it when “my” side does it. And I don’t.

13 Responses to “Charge of the hobbyhorse brigade”

  1. Matthew Carberry says:

    On the gripping hand, if it was a stolen Fed agent weapon they obviously have a “lost and stolen” reporting policy. San Fran has a lost and stolen Ordinance requiring the PD to be notified within 48 hours. Was that Ordinance followed?

    If so, how did the ordinance/policy help the situation? What exactly can such laws/policies really accomplish in terms of actual crime prevention?

    Again assuming the claim is true, will the agent be punished under the policy or Ordinance for being a victim of theft if both were not complied with?

    I guess my thought is, if “lost and stolen” does become an issue elsewhere in the future, this tragedy provides a real world example of a “worst case” outcome with a victim of the theft already subject to such a policy. It allows the emotional claims and hypotheticals to be tested against known facts. Which is usually a good situation for defenders of gun rights to be in.

    • Ian Argent says:

      That’s the flip-side argument I referred to, had the firearm owner not been a federal agent.

      • Matthew Carberry says:

        Right. Though looking for useful information in even a tragedy isn’t necessarily bloody shirt waving nor tribalism, and if not used to argue isn’t an argument.

  2. Jay Hafemeister says:

    The only person who could have stopped this is the killer. We need to stop blaming violent crimes on people who didn’t commit the crime.
    The gun didn’t commit the homicide.
    Immigration and Customs Enforcement didn’t do it.
    The SFPD didn’t do it.
    The agent who’s gun was stolen didn’t kill that poor girl.

    The blame belongs solely to the killer. He should be punished appropriately.

    • Ian Argent says:

      That’s why I felt I should call this one out. Tribalism uber alles annoys me even when it’s “my” tribe.

  3. Stacy says:

    It’s legitimate to point out that the gun belonged to a Fed, because stuff like that happens all the time, almost to the point of being dog-bites-man. If it belonged to a licensed concealed carrier who left it in a bathroom stall, that would be news. And the gun control people would be all over it. If nobody made a big deal about it being a fed’s gun, some of them would still be out there blaming it on lack of background checks. There’s nothing wrong with getting the news out so that they can’t do that. If you want to blame someone for the crassness thereof, it’s the other side that makes it necessary.

    • Ian Argent says:

      I granted that if the owner hadn’t been a fed, there would have been a “lost-and-stolen” blitz. I don’t grant that making a big deal of it being owned by a fed is proper or necessary; particularly if it was a personally-owned firearm. Stuff happens, as the wise men say.

  4. mac says:

    I think mostly the dexterous side is expressing frustration with the hypocritical reporting. Even my 15-year-old son noticed that they didn’t describe the gun at all. If the perpetrator were legally here and a white male, they’d report something like “Glock 47 AR Assault Pistol with a high-capacity clip magazine and a thing in the stock which tells time.” Regardless of the description, they’d get the gun wrong. They also allow the statement that ‘he touched the gun and it went off’ (3 times!) to go without comment.

    There’s also frustration that he’s a criminal (illegal alien), who has been convicted of other crimes, deported numerous times, and kills a woman in a city that refuses to prosecute certain criminals (illegal aliens). Stricter gun laws wouldn’t have stopped the gun from being where it was. Nor would stricter enforcement of existing gun laws. The same could not be said for stricter laws or enforcement of laws pertaining to illegal immigration.

    And finally, there’s quite a bit of schadenfreude that the gun originally belonged to a federal agent. These are people we’re told have the training and experience to properly keep and bear firearms, unlike the rest of us plebes. When one of theirs proves to be human and fallible, it’s an unfortunate mistake. When we make that mistake, it’s negligence because we should have taken steps to prevent such an occurrence. Since we cannot be trusted to take those steps, new laws must be passed to revoke our rights and subjugate us even further.

    A woman is dead, which is horrible. The circumstances around it disprove the narrative, so they’ll be quietly ignored.

    • Ian Argent says:

      I get all that. And the killer’s “I picked up the gun and it went off” story cuts no ice with me; 3 bullets were fired, that means the trigger was pulled 3 times. As I saw on the Book of Face, this is the “Sudden Acceleration Syndrome” as applied to firearms.

      Jay, above, summarized why I was moved to write this. One man picked up a gun and pulled the trigger 3 times.When the circumstances differ, that’s the argument from our side. . “If only…” is a terrible argument.

  5. mike says:

    Someone was tragically and negligently killed last week, by another person who is, by the accounts I’ve seen, remorseful and at least partially willing to accept responsibility



  6. CarlosT says:

    Mostly what I’ve heard is this used as another example of what crap the “Only Ones” line of thinking is. There’s nothing special about anyone who gets a Government Seal of Approval; they’re just people. Therefore there’s no reason to elevate them over us and this is yet another example of that.

  7. Alpheus says:

    I certainly agree to feeling uneasy about blaming this on illegal immigration (and the lack of enforcement). This is a case of some random person finding a gun and (apparently) mindlessly pulling the trigger. Any person who does this should be in deep trouble, doubly so if it results in death.

    And I find it intriguing that the gun involved was an Only Ones gun…

    Having said that, some of the people I’ve heard complaining about such things also complain that illegals seem to be able to get away with breaking the law more than legal citizens can. If this is true (and it certainly deserves statistical analysis I’m not in a position to attempt), then I suspect that this event is touching a nerve because of that.

    While I am partial to people who come here, even if they break the law to do so, I certainly agree that illegals shouldn’t be handled with “kid gloves” when they break our other laws!

    • mac says:

      some of the people I’ve heard complaining about such things also complain that illegals seem to be able to get away with breaking the law more than legal citizens can.

      This is absolutely the case, though the extent varies by area. And I’m not aware of any agency that records citations and arrests that should have been given, but weren’t.

      Here’s a classic example: a friend of mine was involved in a traffic accident in Phoenix. It was completely the other driver’s fault. My friend did not have proof of insurance in his vehicle, though he was insured. He was cited, pending proof of insurance the next day.

      The other driver did not have insurance. He did not have a driver’s license. He claimed the vehicle was his cousin’s. The police let him go without any citation or even warning. When my friend protested, the cop said he gets ten such incidents a day and it wasn’t worth the paperwork to cite them. They wouldn’t show up to court anyway.