HuffPo: California’s SB 707: Gun Control vs. the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment

April 15, 2016

SB 707 is a gun control bill. It is part of a larger strategy of zero tolerance gun control measures with the real aim to trip people up in ways that even the smallest mistake causes them to lose their gun rights. SB 707 adds a new tripwire to the Gun Free Zone laws that surround 1,000 feet around every school in California threatening everyone, even those with a dire need or legal permit, from being within these zones with a gun. Everyone that is, except for the one lobby Sacramento needed to support this law, retired police officers. Even though they are no longer law enforcement officers and do not have any police powers, they will be granted a privilege no other citizen will have in the State of California. Indeed, there are lobbyists that seem to believe that retired police officers are not subject to living among their lowly fellow citizens as equals under the 14th Amendment; that they are better, exempt; that they are not “little people”.

SB 707 is actually unconstitutional and there is case law that already says so. In 2002, the Ninth District Circuit Court already declared that retired cops have no right to special privileges above those of ordinary citizens. It’s this principle of equality under the law that once caused then California Attorney General Jerry Brown to begin issuing letters to retired police officers, who had acquired statutory “assault weapons” under exemption letters, because they were active duty police officers after the cutoff date of California’s laws, to turn them in or remove them from the state upon their retirement. The California Department of Justice under current Attorney General Kamala Harris has been sending these revocation letters to retiring cops. Why Harris did not strongly weigh in on this violation of equal protection aspect of the pending legislation when she knows full well that she’s enforcing it in other areas is puzzling.

This 14th Amendment question of a segregated divide under the law is equally puzzling when one further considers that retired cops are routinely given courtesy CCW’s when other citizens in California are systematically prevented from obtaining them; something the Attorney General’s office goes to extraordinary means to perpetuate. Remember, these are retirees with no actual police powers; only the rights of citizens to self-defense outside the home.

So what’s politically going on here? Frankly, it’s special interest politics. Lawmakers know they cannot pass laws restricting and entrapping citizens into running afoul of gun laws to turn more of the population into prohibited persons without in turn running afoul of a police lobby full of people who would go bonkers if they could not have their guns and do with them as they please. What message would that send to active law enforcement if the state said plainly that at the end of your career, you lose all your bennies? No more “assault weapons”. No more handguns that are not on the State’s ever dwindling Roster firearms certified for sale. No more over 10 round magazines bought over the counter by just showing ID. Welcome to being a member of the suspect class. No that won’t do at all. So, they create a privileged class, one with rights above those of “little people”. One to whom – as some assert – the 14th Amendment does not apply.

Read the full article at the Huffington Post.