At night, sometimes they even crawl out and shoot their owners

If it was built more than 50 years ago, and especially if it has a gym or “field house” — even if it’s been padlocked so long only the old-timers recall — there’s a good chance an American high school near you has a rifle range in the basement.

Back before the 1970s, it was routine to teach teen-age American boys some marksmanship and safe gun handling with turnbolt .22s on such a range. (I shot on such a range as recently as 1965 . . . in Massachusetts.)

Today, of course, dare to propose reintroducing such training and untold legions of vegetarian mommies, busy teaching their boys that wearing dresses and using the girls’ room and even getting hormone shots so they can grow breasts are all perfectly normal, would doubtless shriek in outrage at anyone “daring to put a gun in my innocent son’s hands.”

But if we needed further evidence of what we lost when we stopped teaching young people at least the rudiments of safe gun handling, we got a grim reminder in December when a San Francisco jury found five-times deported and seven-time convicted illegal alien felon Jose Garcia Zarate (also known as Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez) not guilty of homicide — of anything beyond discharging a firearm inside the city limits — in the 2015 shooting death of 32-year-old Kate Steinle.

The Sig-Sauer pistol in question had been stolen from the car of a BLM ranger in that city a few days before Lopez-Sanchez claims to have “found” it, wrapped in a T-shirt, lying in a heavily touristed area on San Francisco’s Pier 14 on July 1, 2015.

(The ranger testified at trial that he’d left the weapon holstered in a backpack under the front seat of his personal vehicle while he went to dinner with his family on June 27. The car’s window had been broken. I will not heap further abuse on the ranger. Many of us now leave firearms in our cars when it would be safer for us to wear them on the hip or to the shoulder. The liability for these outcomes lies primarily with municipal officials — and particularly the managers of government buildings — who post “No Firearms” signs and otherwise make it virtually impossible for free men to bear arms, as is our right and as we should.)

Witness Michelle Lo said she was on vacation in San Francisco with her family the day of the shooting. She told the jury she remembered a man dressed in black who “looked like a homeless person” and who was spinning around in a swivel chair on the pier “grinning and laughing” and that the man made her uncomfortable.

Zarate says he was stoned on sleeping pills that he “found in a dumpster.” (Isn’t it amazing how a homeless seven-time felon can “find” so many useful and valuable things just lying around in America – including a $1,200 handgun that would surely bring $300 cash in any waterfront tavern — without ever “stealing” anything? Surely ours is a land of plenty.)

Lo said she and her family continued along a pier before hearing a “very sharp scream” and seeing a woman on the ground. And she said she saw the same man from earlier walking away.

After initially lying and saying he was shooting at a harbor seal, Zarate changed his story and admitted shooting Steinle, though he said it was “an accident.”

(Others have already pointed out that — had he stuck with the “harbor seal” story — the San Francisco jury would have probably given him 20 years.)

Steinle’s father testified that before she died, her last words were “Help me, Dad.”

Basically, jurors bought the defense argument that when the seven-time felon picked up the stolen handgun, it started firing all by itself. In fact, to rub salt in the wound, defense attorney Matt Gonzalez now wants even Zarate’s conviction on the minimal “felon in possession of a firearm” charge thrown out, arguing Zarate threw the gun in the Bay not “in an effort to avoid detection,” but rather “to stop it from continuing to shoot,” and thus never “possessed” the weapon in a legal sense.

As Second Amendment columnist AWR Hawkins at Breitbart News points out, “The Sig Sauer handgun that Zarate threw into the bay does not shoot on its own. Rather, it shoots one round each time the trigger is pulled, if the trigger is pulled. The reliability of the gun has contributed to Sig Sauer securing numerous contracts with federal agencies and police departments around the country.”

In fact, the decades-old P226 is on the Roster of Handguns Certified for Sale by the State of California Department of Justice, meaning it “has passed firing, safety, and drop tests.”


The defense argued the handgun had a “hair trigger.” Sig-Sauer says each P226 leaves the factory with a 10-pound trigger pull, though law enforcement models can have a 15-pound pull. Lighten up the trigger spring by much and the firing pin can fail to discharge the round — though I know of no evidence the trigger on that piece had been lightened.

I also know of no attempt by the prosecution to get the jury bused to a firing range where they could each have fired off three rounds with that very pistol, to see what a 10- (or 15-) pound trigger pull feels like. Not what most of us would call a “hair trigger.”

At any rate, a dozen Americans of voting age and presumably average intelligence came out of that jury room and ruled “The gun did it.”

Without apparently wondering who on earth would leave a thousand-dollar handgun lying around on a pier, or how a gun that leaves the factory with a 10- or 15-pound trigger pull could “go off accidentally.” Three times.

For that matter, did the jury ASK that they be allowed to fire the weapon? How many do you suppose would even know how to rack the slide on that firearm, if their lives depended on it?

For the record, since so few in the media bother to detail Mr. Zarate’s sterling career, Jose Inez Garcia Zarate (also known as Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez), of Guanajuato, Mexico, aged either 45 or 52, is an illegal alien who was deported from the U.S. a total of five times, most recently in 2009. He was on probation in Texas at the time of the shooting.

According to Wikipedia, Zarate arrived in the U.S., illegally, sometime before 1991, the year he was convicted of his first drug charge in Arizona. In 1993, he was convicted three times in Washington state for felony heroin possession. Following another drug conviction and jail term, this time in Oregon, Zarate was deported in June, 1994, Zarate returned to the U.S. within two years and was convicted again of heroin possession in Washington state. He was deported for the second time in 1997.

On Feb. 2, 1998, Zarate was deported a third time, after re-entering the U.S. through Arizona. The Border Patrol caught him six days later at a border crossing, and a federal court sentenced Zarate to five years and three months in federal prison for unauthorized reentry.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), successor of the INS, deported Zarate for a fourth time in 2003. However, he re-entered the U.S. through Texas and got another federal prison sentence for reentry before being deported for the fifth time in June 2009.

Less than three months after his fifth deportation, Zarate was caught attempting to cross the border in Eagle Pass, Texas. He pleaded guilty to felony reentry. Upon sentencing, a federal court recommended Zarate be placed in “a federal medical facility as soon as possible” (at U.S. taxpayer expense, of course.)

On March 26, 2015, at the request of the San Francisco Sheriff, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons turned Zarate over to San Francisco authorities on an outstanding drug warrant. San Francisco officials transported Zarate to San Francisco County Jail on March 26, 2015, to face a 20-year-old felony charge of selling and possessing marijuana.

Properly worried that San Francisco would promptly release this character (possibly because marijuana is now basically legal in California), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued a detainer for Zarate, requesting that IF San Francisco should release him, he be kept in custody at least until immigration authorities could pick him up.

But San Francisco is of course a “sanctuary city.” Therefore, San Francisco disregarded the detainer and released Zarate from the San Francisco County Jail on April 15, 2015, without notifying ICE.

It then took him less than 90 days to find and kill innocent Kate Steinle, with a stolen gun, while stoned.

But when Donald Trump -– or anyone else –- calls for strict immigration enforcement, an end to “catch-and-release,” an end to “sanctuary cities,” and a border wall, Democrats and our national media unite to condemn such suggestions as “hateful,” “racist,” even “a sure sign that the president is mentally ill.”

What do you suppose Jose Garcia Zarate will get up to the NEXT time he sneaks into this country?

What’s that? Californians had better arm themselves before it’s too late? Lots of luck. As of Jan. 1. 2018, it’s now illegal for Californians to buy ammo from out of state – setting the stage for phase two of California ammunition control, which will consist of requiring a point-of-sale background check for ammunition purchases starting Jan. 1, 2019.

The point-of-sale background check will carry a processing fee, which will drive the price of ammo even higher — assuming state authorities let you buy, at all.

And how much imagination does it take to predict stage three: “Why would you need more than 20 rounds? Didn’t you already buy 20 rounds LAST month?”


Speaking of the Bureau of Land Management, I see where federal Judge Gloria Navarro — a big-government Harry Reid nominee and no friend of anyone trying to earn a living on the Western land — finally threw out the BLM’s entire crooked and vindictive case against the non-violent Cliven Bundy ranching family in the 2014 “Bunkerville Standoff,” to kick off the new year.

(And don’t tell me Donald Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his new Las Vegas appointee, interim U.S. Attorney Dayle Elieson, didn’t have anything to do with making sure the defense finally got a look at all the evidence of BLM bad intentions that they’d been carefully hiding away all these years.)

Remember how the BLM — to justify their armed and violent invasion of the Bundy Ranch — claimed the Bundys had failed to pay “millions of dollars in grazing fees” of which the U.S. Treasury was thus deprived — implying we’d all be in the deep clover as soon as they could get some new ranchers onto that land, paying their fees as required?

Here’s the thing: The federals don’t own that land, so grazing fees — if any were due — would be nothing like “rent.”
The BLM can show no bill of sale, nor any written permission from the state Legislature for any such land purchase, as required by the Constitution. (Article 1, Section 8, Clause 17.)

Signing a grazing permit is a voluntary act (otherwise, why would anyone have to sign it?) and Cliven Bundy stopped “volunteering” to let the federals order his cattle off the land in the springtime — the only time you can fatten cattle here in the arid West — under their “permitting” process, decades ago.

Without the permit, the BLM had no way to calculate what grazing fees they weren’t getting, which is why their estimates varied all over the map.

Furthermore, under the Taylor Grazing Act, the BLM is required to put some 90 percent of any such fees right back into fencing, water tanks, and other improvements right there on that same land — NONE is supposed to flow back to the U.S. Treasury.

Nor could the federals put any other rancher on that land to “pay their grazing fees,” since only the Bundys own the grazing rights (which have been determined by the courts to be a “property right,” and which are adjudicated by the state of Nevada.)

Nor did they WANT to put any other rancher on that land to “pay their fees.” The first thing the BLM goons did upon invading the Bundy ranch was to torch up and haul away the Bundys’ big metal watering tanks — which would have been absolutely necessary to any hypothetical new rancher coming in and trying raise cattle on those desert acres.

In fact, in 1950 there were 50 ranchers grazing cattle on allotments in the vast desert acreage of Clark County in Southern Nevada. Most of them kept signing their permits, and the BLM kept cutting down the number of cattle they were allowed to run on those allotments each spring.

And where do you think they all are now? They’re all gone, put out of business by the BLM. So far east they’re almost in Utah, the Bundys are, as 71-year-old Cliven Bundy says, “the last ranchers left between here and the Pacific Ocean.” (Why do you think the dry, ungrazed brush in California keeps catching fire?)

How many “millions of dollars” is the Treasury “losing” each year from the 49 ranching families which the BLM quite purposely put out of business in Southern Nevada over the past 65 years – families that no longer pay ANY GRAZING FEES AT ALL . . . and now never will?

A “cattle guard” is not a dusty cowpoke hired to guard a herd. No, a “cattle guard” is three or more parallel steel beams set into the pavement across a roadway, with gap of an inch or two between.

Car and truck tires pass over the cattle guard easily, even at 70 mph (though the tires make a buzzing noise.) But cattle hesitate to cross a cattle guard, quite correctly fearing the edge of a hoof could slip down between those pieces of steel, causing them to fall and break a leg.

In the old days, ranchers extended their fence lines across a road in the form of a gate, trusting travelers to close the gate behind them. But gates don’t work on 65 mph, four-lane roadways. So they use cattle guards.

I drove down Mount Potosi into the southwestern corner of the Las Vegas valley – near Red Rock Canyon — back in November. It’s the far end of Clark County from where the Bundys run their stock, 100 miles further east. But cattlemen used to run stock there, up through the 1960s, before the Spring Mountain Ranch got turned into a no-cows state park.

There was a traffic slowdown as I came down out of the pass, just before the truck stop known as the Blue Diamond Travel Center. Workmen were removing the steel cattle guard from State Route 160, and paving over where it used to be. The “Warning: Cattle Guard” signs are still there, but no cattle guard.

Which only constitutes further proof of what we already knew: The federals have no intention of getting any “better” ranchers and their cattle onto ANY of the grazing land in Clark County, Nevada, to pay their precious “grazing fees.” EVER. They see the progressive, incremental shutdown of grazing in the West as PERMANENT.

Never mind about any “grazing fees lost to the federal Treasury.” That was pure red herring, a public-relations talking point fed to ignorant urban reporters. No, the Bundy raid was all about U.N. Agenda 21, baby: Getting The People Off The Land.

Vin Suprynowicz was for 20 years a columnist and editorial writer for the daily Las Vegas Review-Journal. He blogs at . A version of this column appears in the current issue of “Firearms News,” formerly “Shotgun News.”

One Comment to “At night, sometimes they even crawl out and shoot their owners”

  1. Technomad Says:

    This isn’t the only case where a jury went easier than it should have due to ignorance of firearms. Both Betty Broderick in San Diego and Jean Harris in New York (neither of them, be it noted, hotbeds of firearms expertise) were given lesser sentences than they deserved (for murdering their exes) because juries didn’t understand that double-action revolvers do NOT fire again and again easily. Particularly in women’s hands—the trigger pull is often a bit stiff for a man, and can be quite a bit worse for a woman, or so I am told.