Is it Pat Quinn’s fault that Dmitry Smirnov shot his ex-girlfriend to death in Oak Brook last Wednesday?
Smirnov, who lived in British Columbia, was allegedly so upset about his breakup with Jitka Vesel that he drove to Chicago and put a GPS tracker on her car so he could stalk her. After discovering that Illinois had recently abolished the death penalty, Smirnov decided to kill Vesek, DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin said. He confronted her in a parking lot and shot her “numerous times."
"Make sure Pat Quinn gets a copy of this story," Berlin told reporters.
“Thank you George Ryan and Pat Quinn,” wrote a commenter on the Sun-Times website. “You must be so proud that both of you are at least partly responsible for this murder.”
Wrote another: “So, this dirtbag checked to make sure that Illinois has no death penalty and went ahead with the murder based on the fact that he cannot be executed for the killing??? This places the blame directly on our Governor. GOVERNOR QUINN, YOU HAVE BLOOD ON YOUR HANDS!!! I pray that the family of this poor woman sues Governor Quinn and that our next Governor reinstates the death penalty ASAP!”
There’s one other important detail to this story. Immediately after crossing the border, Smirnov purchased a .40-caliber handgun and ammunition in Seattle. For a Canadian tourist, that’s going native.
Maybe Smirnov wouldn’t have killed his ex-girlfriend if he’d known he could be executed for the crime. But he definitely wouldn’t have killed her if he hadn’t bought a gun. Canada doesn’t have the death penalty. But it’s also not the kind of country where a foreign national can procure a deadly weapon on his first stop after crossing the border.
Why is the United States the only advanced, industrialized nation that hasn’t abolished capital punishment? Perhaps because violence and mayhem are so much a part of our culture that the state feels it needs its own threat of death to keep criminals under control.
You can’t just blame liberal death penalty abolitionists for this murder. You can’t just blame conservative gun lovers, either. This is America. People get shot to death here every day. Even in states with strong gun control laws. And even in states with the death penalty.