SAN FRANCISCO -- The California state Senator who built a political career as a champion of gun control and whose crusade against "violent" videogames went all the way to the Supreme Court has been arrested for gun trafficking.
Democratic state Sen. Leland Yee -- infamous for his positions against videogames -- has been indicted for fraud. According to the San Jose Mercury News and other sources, Yee has been charged with conspiring to traffic in firearms and public corruption as part of a major FBI operation in the Bay Area.
Yee's campaign against the violent videogames began with Hot Coffee, a minigame in 2004's Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas that featured crudely animated sex scenes.
The senator is best known for California's anti-videogame law passed in 2005, signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, which banned the sale or rental of violent games to minors. In 2010, the law went to the Supreme Court, which ultimately struck it down in a 7-2 ruling. Yee also reemerged in 2013 in the wake of the school shooting at Newtown, CT.
During the period leading up to the Supreme Court case, a broad coalition of entertainment industry and business associations, free speech advocates and many other interests opposed California's law banning youth access to "violent" videogames. Although the law did not target arcade games, the Amusement and Music Operators Association joined the coalition. And while 11 states supported the California law, attorneys general from at least 10 states opposed it.
Like books, plays and movies, the high court ruled, videogames qualify for First Amendment protection. Videogames communicate ideas through familiar literary devices and features distinctive to the medium, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote.
In the meantime, California's Democratic-controlled state Senate voted last week to suspend Yee, who allegedly tried to sell M-16-style rifles and rocket launchers to an eager buyer who was actually an undercover FBI agent. Two other members, also targets of the FBI probe and involved in separate corruption investigations, were suspended, too. Gov. Jerry Brown has called on all three state senators to resign.
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