Civil Rights Groups File Appeal to Ninth Circuit in Fourteenth Amendment Equality Lawsuit Challenging Retired Government Employee Special Exemptions to California Gun Control Laws

August 08, 2016

The lawsuit, which challenges special exemptions to California’s “Gun-Free School Zone Act” for retired government employees, is being appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

LOS ANGELES (August 8, 2016) – A civil rights lawsuit challenging a special, legislatively-created exemption to the “California Gun-Free School Zone Act” for retired government employees as unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause is being appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals following Central District of California Federal District Court Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell’s August 5 order granting the State of California’s motion to dismiss.

The lawsuit, filed in April by 11 individuals and 4 nonprofit civil rights organizations, argues that the state’s many special statutory exemptions to gun laws for retired “peace officers” are a violation of their Fourteenth Amendment constitutional rights.

Judge O’Connell’s August 5 order held that the plaintiffs and retied peace officers are “sufficiently similarly situated to establish an equal protection claim” under the Equal Protection Clause. But, the Court held, review of “the Retired Peace Officer Exemption does not trigger heightened Scrutiny” because the “only group the Act treats differently is retired peace officers based on their status as former law enforcements officers.”

The Court’s order said that “the government interest here is one of private protection and self-defense” for the retired government employees, and, “[t]herefore, allowing retired peace officers an exemption from the general ban of carrying concealed weapons on school property is rationally related to the legitimate state interest of ensuring their protection.”

In its conclusion, the Court found that the Plaintiffs’ claim that the Retired Peace Officer Exemption is unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause cannot be cured by amendment because so long as the government has an interest in protecting retired peace officers, it will survive rational basis scrutiny.”

The Plaintiffs believe that, should the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause be so narrowly construed as to allow special exemptions like this one, millions of law-abiding people will be disenfranchised from their Second Amendment rights and continuously face political attacks with the support of government employee special interest groups like those who supported California Senate Bill 707, including the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, Fraternal Order of Police, California State Lodge, Peace Officers Research Association, Riverside Sheriffs’ Association, Sacramento County Deputy Sheriffs’ Association, Santa Ana Police Officers Association, and others.

According to institutional plaintiff Firearms Policy Foundation, the lawsuit’s purpose is to strike down as unconstitutional a number of exemptions that shield retired “peace officers” from the criminal provisions of California Penal Code Section 626.9, otherwise known as the “Gun-Free School Zone Act of 1995”, because retired “peace officers” and regular law-abiding people should be treated the same under the Equal Protection Clause.

More information about Garcia v. Harris, including relevant case filings, can be viewed or downloaded on the lawsuit’s Web site at SB707lawsuit.com.

Firearms Policy Foundation (www.firearmsfoundation.org) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. FPF’s mission is to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States and the People’s rights, privileges and immunities deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition, especially the inalienable, fundamental, and individual right to keep and bear arms.

Firearms Policy Coalition (www.firearmspolicy.org) is a 501(c)4 nonprofit organization. FPC’s mission is to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, especially the fundamental, individual Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

Madison Society Foundation (www.madison-society.org) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. MSF’s mission is to serve and protect the Second Amendment rights of the law-abiding residents of the United States.

The Calguns Foundation (www.calgunsfoundation.org) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. CGF serves its members, supporters, and the public through educational, cultural, and judicial efforts to advance Second Amendment and related civil rights.