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Anti-gun California state senator to face federal corruption charges

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Updated: Democrat California State Senator Ronald S. Calderon on Monday pleaded not guilty in federal court to corruption charges in a case that also touches his brother, former California Assemblyman Thomas Calderon, the Sacramento Bee and Los Angeles Times reported late Monday afternoon.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court of the United States turned down all three Second Amendment cases that had sought review. This column discussed those cases Friday.

Sen. Calderon allegedly accepted cash bribes totaling $100,000 and and other gratuities for what the Long Beach Press Telegram reported was his alleged support for “legislation that benefited a Long Beach hospital owner and a Hollywood studio owner.” His brother, Thomas, faces charges of conspiracy and money laundering, the newspaper said. He is alleged to have also accepted "plane trips, expensive dinners and trips to golf resorts," the newspaper said. Sen. Calderon was indicted last week on 24 charges.

National Gun Rights Examiner David Codrea took a hard look at the Calderons here, noting their consistent votes against the rights of Golden State gun owners. Sen. Calderon voted to ban semiautomatic rifles with detachable magazines, for legislation banning lead ammunition for hunting and to require background checks to buy ammunition. Their votes on gun control are not connected to the charges.

Sen. Calderon is being represented by attorney Mark Geragos. The Sacramento Bee reported that Calderon's fellow Democrats in the Senate have given him until next Monday to step down "or take an indefinite leave of absence." If he declines, he could be suspended from his legislative duties, but not expelled, the newspaper said.

The Sacramento Bee also quoted Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, who noted, "Senator Calderon has been accused of very serious crimes, but he hasn't been convicted of anything. And thus, expulsion would be premature."

If Sen. Calderon is convicted on all charges, he could face sentences of nearly 400 years in prison, both newspapers said.

While this drama was playing out, the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) turned down petitions from the Second Amendment Foundation and National Rifle Association on three cases that could have expanded gun rights. The cases were SAF’s Lane v. Holder and two from the NRA that included NRA v. McCraw and NRA v. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

However, simply because the high court turned down these three cases, there are still some good cases warming up in the judicial bullpen, with New Jersey’s Drake v. Jerejian being a prime candidate. That’s the SAF case that has attracted considerable support with amicus curiae briefs being separately filed by 19 state attorneys general, 34 members of Congress and a half-dozen gun rights and legal organizations, including NRA and Gun Owners Foundation.

SCOTUS never explains why it accepts or rejects cases, but there is a growing concern among some gun rights activists that the nine justices are not keen on taking another Second Amendment case, particularly one that could overturn, or affirm, so-called “discretionary issue” concealed carry laws in various states while at the same time extending the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms well beyond the front porch of one’s home.

Both Second Amendment cases decided over the past six years – Heller and McDonald – were decided on 5-4 votes.

Codrea weighs in here.

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