A federal judge ruled Friday that some California gun owners have more rights than others.
And we don’t think that’s okay.
Garcia v. Harris, our civil rights challenge to the special exemptions granted to retired law enforcement officers in SB 707, which bans concealed carry on school grounds for most individuals, was dismissed by Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell.
In her decision, Judge O’Connell declared that:
“[T]he government interest here is one of private protection and self-defense” for retired government employees on school property 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.”
That decision is a slap in the face to the thousands of people who go through the process of becoming a concealed carry permit holder.
Judge O’Connell is telling them that their training, their permits, their rights and their lives are not as valuable as those of a retired government employee.
It was as if the decision was taken from the pages of Orwell’s Animal Farm: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others…”
Which is exactly why we are appealing to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
The Ninth Circuit ruled in Silveira v. Lockyer, on nearly identical facts, that favoring retired peace officers over similarly-situated civilians violated the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution. If that same logic is applied in Garcia v. Harris, we will prevail – and there will no longer be two classes of gun owners in California.
Judge O’Connell’s ruling means we will be taking the long road to restore civil rights in California. And we can’t do it alone.
Now that we have to appeal the decision at the Ninth Circuit, it will take even more valuable resources.