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Public rattled by gunrunning case against Democrat

By Michael F. Haverluck

Only days after the arrest of California state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, on charges of taking bribes and running an illegal gun operation, a poll shows a plunge in support for the California Legislature, known for its anti-gun advocacy.

Yee, who was named to the “Gun Violence Prevention Honor Roll” by the Brady Campaign in 2006, is now under fire for his alleged involvement in supplying guns illegally in what is dubbed as “gangland ties.”

The revelation of the allegations has coincided with a drop in support for California lawmakers.

The Field Poll showed a nine-point shift in approval for the Legislature, with those who approve declining from 46 to 43 percent and those who disapprove rising from 40 to 46 percent.

National Rifle Association Director of Public Affairs Andrew Arulanandam told WND that when citizens are confronted with scandals such as the Yee case, “it dramatically violates their trust.”

“They roll their eyes and think this is the definition of hypocrisy,” he said.

Arulanandam also noted the many scandals, including charges for gun-related crimes, plaguing members of former New York City Michael Bloomberg’s group Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

“This diminishes the credibility of the entire gun-control movement,” he said.

He doesn’t see Bloomberg’s group backing away, however.

“This does not help their cause, but Bloomberg has deep pockets, and he’ll do what he can to cover up these scandals and other corrupt politicians to promote his agenda, because he’s willing to use billions of his dollars to support gun control in this country,” Arulanandam said.

Sam Paredes, executive director of Gun Owners of California, put the Yee scandal’s impact on the gun-control movement in perspective.

“The reality is that we believe it has put a chill on the movement, and some of the less active players are taking a step back in moving on with their agenda, but this hasn’t stopped their desire to move forward,” he said.

Democrats, he noted, lost their super majority in the Senate, “but they think they’re invincible and they’ll do whatever they can do to impede our rights in California.”

But Paredes said it’s clearer now who’s really behind the gun-control agenda.

“You wonder who it is we’ve been fighting all this time?” Paredes said. “Now you know.”

The Gun Owners of California leader said Yee, “one of the most vocal and virulent members in the Senate against gun rights,” reflected the general temperament the Legislature’s gun-control advocates.

But will the public pay much heed to the charges brought against Yee?

Claremont McKenna College Professor of Politics Jack Pitney says yes.

“The lurid details of Yee’s alleged crimes struck a chord and reminded Californians why they hate politicians,” he told the Bay Area News Group.

Yet Pitney is skeptical about the impact in November elections.

“In a great majority of races this fall, the corruption cases won’t make any difference,” he said.

But Yee’s arrest wasn’t the only dent in California’s Democrat-run Legislature’s armor. Gun-control advocates Sens. Ronald Calderon, D-Montebello, and Roderick Wright, D-Inglewood, were involved in separate scandals of their own.

Calderon was indicted on charges of accepting $100,000 in bribes from undercover FBI agents and Wright was found guilty by a Los Angeles jury of lying about his home being located in his district.

Even though Republicans’ earlier plea to suspend Calderon and Wright was rejected, just two days after Yee’s arrest, all three were suspended.

“This would have been a very happy story for the legislature had the Yee arrest not occurred,” Mark DiCamillo told the Bay Area News Group. “That’s not the story now.”

San Francisco Republican Party Chair Harmeet Dhillon  compared California to ancient Rome, saying “the party in power and the people in power are abusing the power.”

“The Democrats have reached that position in California, where they are the bosses and they take advantage of the little people,” she said, according to SFGate.com.

And Dhillon believes a corrupt stronghold in the state won’t go down without a fight.

“There’s a culture of corruption in Sacramento – and legislators are very cozy with sources of money,” Dhillon said. “[Yee] in particular has struck me as someone who does not want to leave office under any circumstances … but the people of San Francisco deserve better.”

It was Yee who co-authored a bill mandating that new ballistics identification technology, micro-stamping, be on all new semiautomatic handguns.

GOC’s Paredes concluded Yee “has allowed us to pull back the curtain to expose the kind of people who are pushing the buttons and pulling the knobs to move forward the gun control movement in California.”

“And we thought the Wizard of Oz was a fake!”