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Published on Mar 27, 2014
Before he was arrested and indicted on numerous federal charges Wednesday, including allegations of gun running, State Sen. Leland Yee was a major advocate for gun control and pushed to ban a device called a "bullet button."
In 2012, reported on what gun control advocates called a huge loophole in California's ban on assault weapons. The reports focused on the bullet button, a device that gun manufacturers designed in order to legally sell guns such as the AR-15 in California.
The bullet button enables the magazine of a semi-automatic rifle to be removed quickly, with the tip of a bullet. Removable magazines in combination with other features like a pistol grip and telescoping stock are banned under California law. But the bullet button is legal because it doesn't work with one's finger, so the magazine is considered "fixed."
The report prompted Yee to introduce SB 249, which would have banned the bullet button. Yee received a lot of heat from gun advocates over it. Opponents even put up billboards on Bay Area freeways. In an interview on , Yee said that he was not going to be intimidated, because he believed so strongly in keeping guns out of the hands of bad guys.
"This is not an easy issue," Yee said. "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's bill was eventually merged with other gun control bills, but in the end Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed the legislation.
According to Wednesday's indictment, Yee is charged with conspiracy to deal firearms without a license, along with conspiracy to illegally transport firearms. He is also accused of running a scheme to defraud citizens on his services and wire fraud.
The government's affidavit said that in August of 2013, at the same time Yee was pushing gun control laws, an undercover agent was being told the senator "had a contact who deals in arms trafficking."
In January of this year, the affidavit said Yee told that same agent that the arms dealer "Has things that you guys want."
The affidavit also said Yee claimed to know a weapons trafficker who he had known for years, who was supplying "cargo containers" of heavy weapons to Muslim rebels in the Philippines