The Future Of Gun Rights May Come Down To This Lawsuit

July 28, 2016

When anti-gun legislators pass laws that strip Second Amendment rights, people are justifiably upset and wonder what recourse they have.

One way to fight back is in court, which is why Firearms Policy Foundation (FPF) is actively engaged in this method of fighting for your Second Amendment rights – and other civil rights.

FPF filed suit challenging SB 707, which divides law-abiding gun owners into two classes – and an upcoming hearing could have huge ramifications on the legislature’s ability to pass discriminatory anti-gun laws in the future.

SB 707 banned law-abiding, CCW-licensed individuals from carrying handguns for self-defense on “school grounds.” However, the law created an exemption some former government employees.

One man, Dr. Ulisses Garcia, was issued a license to carry in response to a threat of violence from a former patient. Since the passage of SB 707, Dr. Garcia is unable to lawfully carry his handgun when he attends his children’s school events or simply drops them off in the morning. But this law applies differently to people who have worked in different professions, and those people don’t have to make that choice.

This is a clear violation of civil rights. On behalf of Dr. Garcia and others, we filed a federal civil rights lawsuit, arguing that all law-abiding people should have the same rules and that SB 707’s provisions violate the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.

The Ninth Circuit ruled on virtually identical facts the 2002 case of Silveira v. Lockyer, stating that favoring retired peace officers over similarly-situated civilians violated the Equal Protection Clause.

Interestingly, then-Attorney General Jerry Brown issued a legal opinion backing up the Ninth Circuit’s decision.

Brown explained:

“Silveira teaches that it is…. a peace officer’s role as a law enforcement agent that provides a rational basis for distinguishing between a peace officer and a private citizen for purposes of possessing and using assault weapons. A retired officer is not authorized to engage in law enforcement activities.”

The same is true in the current case, no matter what the current Attorney General wants to argue.

But still, Attorney General Kamala Harris’s office has filed an outrageous Motion to Dismiss, using arguments directly contrary to the Silveira case.

Far from bolstering her case, her Motion simply “lay[s] bare the disparate treatment that Plaintiffs now face.”

For example, Harris quotes opposition to from the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Association, which argued:

“Forcing our retired members to choose between picking up their children or grandchildren form [sic] school or attending school events and ensuring their own ability to protect themselves or their loved ones is a decision they should not be required to make. Neither should retired officers be forced to jeopardize their safety in order to take college classes.”

While FPF does not disagree with that sentiment, why should the Plaintiffs be forced to make those same awful choices where others do not? Our brief states:

“Should Scott Dipman also be forced to forgo his right to self-defense while hand-delivering his sons to class? What about when Jordan Gallinger, an expert marksman in the United States Marine Corps, wants to go to school? Or when Lisa Jang walks across campus late at night—must she jeopardize her safety?”

The U.S. Supreme Court has long held that creating divisions based on the political unpopularity of a group violates the Equal Protection Clause.

As our Opposition brief argues, “No one can deny that civilian gun owners are unpopular with the California Legislature—that is, unless those civilians are former ‘peace officers.’ The Legislature re-inserted the exemption here to avert opposition by favoring a politically powerful group—at the expense of a politically unpopular group.”

But there’s only have one person to convince, and that is the presiding judge.

If Harris wins, we will have to appeal the decision to dismiss at the Ninth Circuit—and that could take years.

Even if we win that appeal, it would effectively put the lawsuit back where it is today.

In the meantime, special interest government employee lobbyists and unions would still be able to work with corrupt Sacramento politicians to destroy your Second Amendment rights.

That’s why this hearing is a MUST win.

If we win, the future of gun rights may just be saved by forcing special interests to align with you and your Second Amendment rights – they wouldn’t have the ability to carve out special exemptions in the law.

But again, that is only if we beat this motion to dismiss.

Help us beat Kamala Harris and save the future of gun rights today.