David Codrea’s Right’s Watch: Stranger than fiction
By David Codrea, GUNS Magzine
It’s one of those bizarre stories that drops the jaws of those of us jaded by years of observing the hypocrisy, the double standards, and the in-your-face breaking of rules that seemingly defines the elites of the gun-ban crowd. California State Senator Leland Yee, a leading proponent in Golden State citizen disarmament, has been arrested in a conspiracy sting involving, among other things, Islamic militants and proposed illegal arms trafficking deals.
We’ve seen unfathomable disconnects before over the years, and even reported on such head-scratchers in this column, noting anti-gun edicts demanded by “Long Island Lolita” Amy Fisher, advocacy against guns in schools by Columbine killer Eric Harris, and numerous other outrageous examples, from Million Mom March activists ignoring gun bans and shooting innocents, to city-sponsored “anti-violence leaders” dealing in “illegal” weapons on the black market. That such revelations continue to surprise us speaks more to the simple candor by which peaceable gun owners conduct themselves than anything else: we view the disingenuous as freaks, and are constantly surprised because they conduct themselves as a matter of course in ways alien to our everyday lives. Normal people just don’t behave the way they do.
In fairness to Sen. Yee, he has yet to be convicted of anything, and as we treasure the presumption of innocence for ourselves, so must we demand it for all, even those who have made a point of trying to gut the right to keep and bear arms, and to criminalize us, in betrayal of all that we hold true and dear. That said, the evidence, at least what’s been glimpsed in an admittedly biased media and coming from a law enforcement source with skin in the game, is compelling.
“Alleged arms trafficker, and anti-gun California Democratic State Senator Leland Yee knew that an arms deal he was attempting to facilitate would send money to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in exchange for weapons, and that those weapons were intended to be imported into the US, and distributed in North Africa, and Italy,” Forbes Magazine reported. “These allegations … were revealed in the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint against Yee and his co-conspirators.”
That affidavit, 137 pages filed and signed by FBI Special Agent Emmanuel V. Pacua following a 5-year investigation, “reads like an action thriller,” SFGate noted, involving “Coke deals. Shoulder-fired missiles. Hit men. Gang politics. Bribery. Deal-making.” It also reads like a movie script, tying Yee in with colorful, almost fictional-sounding characters like “alleged Chinatown mobster Raymond ‘Shrimp Boy’ Chow…”
For their part, California Democrats are distancing themselves from Yee. He has been suspended from the Senate with pay. Gov. Jerry Brown has called on him to resign. Yee himself has withdrawn from his race for Secretary of State. He is free at this writing on a $500,000 unsecured bond.
That’s a change from a political career made possible by backing all the “right causes,” or at least making noises to that effect. Yee had portrayed himself in his public life as both a champion of government transparency, and importantly, as a leading proponent of what the antis want us to think of as “violence prevention.”
“Brady Campaign to Honor Yee for Violence Prevention,” a 2006 press release announced. “For his commitment to ending gun violence … Yee … has been named to the Gun Violence Prevention Honor Roll by the Brady Campaign.
“The Brady Campaign will honor Yee and other state legislators from throughout the country who earned an A+ for working against gun violence at a reception during the National Conference of State Legislators,” the release explained.
“More than nine children are killed each day as a result of gun homicides, suicides, and unintentional shootings in the United States alone,” Yee proclaimed in accepting the accolades. “While I am proud to stand up against the gun industry and support violence prevention efforts, it is unfortunate that such legislative measures are still needed to end these senseless acts of violence.”
Yee had not slowed down in the ensuing years, sponsoring and supporting several bills including one that would have banned so-called “bullet buttons,” a California workaround that allows magazines to conform to the state-mandated requirement for being non-detachable while allowing gun owners to replace them using a simple tool or bullet tip. Yee was also a driving force behind a bill to ban 3D printed guns.
“My greatest fear is that another senseless act of violence will happen before the loophole is closed,” Yee said when his bullet button ban stalled following fierce opposition from gun rights activists.
“This is not an easy issue,” he lamented about that proposed ban. “But I am a father, and I want our communities to be safe, and God forbid if one of these weapons fell into the wrong hands.”
Yee was not shy about telling people who he blamed for that.
“Once again NRA uses lies and distortion to try stopping [a] commonsense gun control bill,” he claimed on his Twitter social media account, complaining about organized opposition to his bullet button bill. “Time to stop mass reloading in CA.”
And he was also quick to align himself with people and events he found advantageous to mention and associate his name with.
“Thank you … for your commitment and passion to ending gun violence,” he “tweeted” to anti-gun TV personality Piers Morgan. “We must never forget Sandy Hook.
“A year after Sandy Hook, let us recommit ourselves to working towards a safer society for all of us,” he repeated to his followers, exploiting that theme.
“I commend the President for his commitment to passing common sense federal gun control legislation,” Yee announced in a statement on his senate webpage, sending kudos Barack Obama’s way. “In California, we are prepared to support his efforts and will also strengthen our state laws to help ensure our communities never again are forced to deal with such a horrific assault on children. While we cannot stop every act of senseless gun violence, surely we can close loopholes and modernize our laws to limit such tragedies in the future.”
Such rhetoric makes it all the stranger that Yee allegedly told the agent he’d agreed to introduce to a weapons trafficker that he had known the business was not “for the faint of heart.”
Talk about an understatement. Such discussion was about arming genuine bad actors, not a group of California gun owners trying to find ways to enjoy their firearms while jumping through hoops to remain within the law.
“Do I think we can make some money?” Yee reportedly asked, revealing the cynical motivator at the heart of it all. “I think we can make some money. Do I think we can get the goods? I think we can get the goods.”
It’s not like such questionable and self-serving sentiments surprise some Yee watchers. In years past, he had been criticized for being the only Democrat to vote against a bill banning chemicals deemed harmful from baby products and taking a campaign contribution from a plastics industry political action committee. He said there was no connection, and the bill was flawed.
San Francisco police twice stopped him on suspicion of soliciting sex. He said it was a case of mistaken identity, and he was driving home from work.
He was arrested and charged with shoplifting a bottle of suntan oil. He said he was only taking it outside to show his wife, apparently by stuffing it under his shirt, and he never showed up in court on the misdemeanor charge.
None of these are proof of guilt, and indeed, much of Yee’s defense seems to be centering on his being entrapped by law enforcement. How that will play out remains to be seen.
Regardless, gun owners can count on other politicians picking up the disarmament banner temporarily dropped on the field by Yee. And they can shake their head at the strange realization, when all is said and done, that they will be the ones portrayed as criminals and as threats.