Lawsuit Filed to Strike Down Exemptions to Gun Control for Government Retirees

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Lawsuit Filed to Strike Down Exemptions to Gun Control for Government Retirees
Firearms Policy Coalition
Firearms Policy Coalition

LOS ANGELES –  -( Earlier today, 11 individuals and 4 nonprofit civil rights organizations filed a new federal equality lawsuit against the State of California and Attorney General Kamala Harris, arguing that that state’s many special statutory exemptions to gun laws for retired “peace officers” are a violation of their Fourteenth Amendment constitutional rights.

According to institutional plaintiff Firearms Policy Foundation, the new 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.

Since 1923, when California first enacted concealed carry regulations, the state has allowed Californians who obtained a handgun carry permit from their local sheriff or police chief to carry in almost all public places, including on college and university school grounds.

Notably, the same has not always been true of retired “peace officers,” who have an easier time getting a carry license than do most law-abiding people.

The Legislature passed Senate Bill 707 in late 2015, drastically expanding the scope of the “Gun-Free School Zone Act” to criminalize the possession of handguns on all public and private school and university grounds – even by trained carry licensees with threats against their life.

Retired “peace officers” fared far better against the changes, however. As it was initially proposed, SB 707 would have broadly eliminated handgun carry on campus for virtually everyone except on-duty police or others specifically authorized to assist in an emergency.

But anti-gun “peace officer” political associations were quick to respond.

Their powerful government employee association lobbyists immediately offered their full support of SB 707 – but only if the gun control bill was amended to exclude their retired members from the carry crackdown and allow them to continue carrying their personal firearms on school grounds whenever and however they pleased.

The Legislature delivered on those amendments and then some, adding even more exemptions for public employee association members before passing the bill.

In spite of a massive public outcry and over 40,000 Californians sending in letters of opposition, Governor Brown signed SB 707 in October.

Thus, say the plaintiffs, when SB 707 took effect on January 1 2016, it established preferential treatment for retired “peace officers” over and above the rights of law-abiding private citizens approved to carry a handgun, despite the fact that retired “peace officers” are not authorized to engage in law enforcement activities any more than their fellow private citizens.

SB 707’s favorable treatment applies to a wide list of retired government employees whose jobs involved “enforcing” the law, including retired IRS agents, retired employees of the California Fish and Game Department, and retirees from the Department of Parks and Recreation.

“The Ninth Circuit has already held that there is no rational basis for the State to treat retired “peace officers” more favorably than law-abiding members of the general public when it comes to limiting access to firearms, yet that’s exactly what Senate Bill 707 did,” explained Bradley Benbrook, lead counsel for the plaintiffs.

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In its 2002 Silveira v. Lockyer decision, the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a California law that gave retired law enforcement officers special exemptions from the Assault Weapons Control Act.

That decision was reinforced in a 2010 legal opinion issued by then-Attorney General Jerry Brown. In his opinion, Brown explained that “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.”

“As both a parent and a school board member, I believe it’s important that our children see that the justice system does not allow the government to play favorites among its residents,” said Craig DeLuz, an individual plaintiff in the case. “I can’t stand idly by and watch as the Legislature discriminates in favor government employee retirees over Californians who didn’t work for the government.”

“This lawsuit is about making sure that big government special interests ­– like ‘peace officer’ associations – can’t continue to sell out law-abiding people for special favors and political perks,” said Brandon Combs, chairman of Firearms Policy Foundation.

“In filing this important equality lawsuit, we have fulfilled our promise to the Legislature, the special interests that supported Senate Bill 707, and our supporters,” concluded Combs. “Law-abiding California gun owners are not second-class people with fewer civil rights simply because they didn’t hold down the right government job.”

In order for a person to acquire a carry license in California, a person must prove their residence, pass a rigorous background check, complete a police-approved training program, pay significant fees, prove their good moral character, and persuade their sheriff or police chief that they have “good cause” to carry, such as extreme personal risk or documented threats.

Additionally, a California carry licensee must maintain their clean background check and documented proficiency in order to renew the license, and even then the issuance of a renewal license is entirely up to the discretion of their local sheriff of police chief.

SB 707’s broad exemption for retired “peace officers” does not require that all exempted persons maintain a background check or training in order to carry handguns onto California school grounds.

The complaint for Garcia, et al. v. Attorney General Kamala Harris can be downloaded or viewed at

Firearms Policy Foundation ( 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 ( 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 ( 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 ( 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.

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Clark Kent

Whodaty: I am sure your knowledge of the legal system and police work is based upon watching re-runs of ‘Adam 12’ and ‘T.J. Hooker’. Let me clue you in. The reason police officers carry off-duty is due to the real possibility into running into a criminal they have arrested in the past. If that bothers you, then quit your job and become a police officer before posting stupid comments. Or better yet, move to Canada; don’t let the screen door hit you in the azz on your way out…


Dear Superman, More like “Dragnet”. Anyhow, please stand DOWN! I fully appreciate why LEOs would wish to carry “off duty”. I fully support that concept. In fact I know that a sworn officer is always “ON DUTY. MY statement, that you took so much exception to, was to float (not new by any means) the concept that ANY citizen should be able to also carry as they wish, and that if that if LEOs were NOT allowed, by laws, to carry off duty, as in at least BC Canada, THEN, LEOs in general and hopefully the head LEOs would more… Read more »


Law enforcement officer safety act permits was passed by the federal government a decade ago, just because you choose to live in a state where your 2nd amendment rights are trampled on does’nt mean you need to take it out on the Peace Officers that spent a carreer protecting those oppressed citizens. You have been shit on by the liberals controlling that state, not the Peace Officers that protected that state.


Ring68, I get all that, and kudos to all good LEOs past and present. I think it’s a great idea that former LEOs can pack after they end their active service to the public in case they happen to cross paths with someone who wishes them ill. Granted, some former LEOs are more likely to have folks around who might seek retribution, who classically don’t follow the laws of the land, but, what about the rest of us who may have somehow offended others in a professional context or on a personal level? Let’s see, what careers besides being a… Read more »


All state and national laws should be changed to eliminate any firearms “privileges” for retired or ex LEOs, etc, If this were the case, said LEOs, especially including Sheriffs, police Chiefs, heads of all government LE agencies, etc. might be much less likely to get behind laws that aim to restrict gun rights for the rest of the citizenry. If the laws were further equalized to completely eliminate LEOs privileges to exclude not only after retirement to include while OFF DUTY duty, as I understand it is in Canada, THEN some appreciation of anyone being able to defend one’s self… Read more »


Why should the so called special class be allowed to carry weapons upon retirement? Lets see……because they protect property and well being – FOR YOU, they arrest violent offenders that many times would love to take retribution retired or not – FOR YOU, they risk their lives to do a job you dont have the stones for so you pay someone to do it. And wow, a whole 40k people were up in arms over this?? That’s really awesome. Until you factor in that the states population is 38 million, so 37,960,000 people have common sense and dont give a… Read more »


The point of this is that no group or class of people should have any greater access to self defense than another. Is a retired police officer’s life more valuable than yours? No. Should they be allowed to carry firearms and not you? No.

This is not to stop them from being able to defend themselves it’s to make sure we ALL have that same right.

Clark Kent

Vanns40: WRONG! How many criminals have YOU arrested, guarded while they were in prison or supervised while they were on parole? So when they recognize you when you are retired you don’t have the right to defend yourself and your family? THINK BEFORE YOU POST!


What are you, a retired cop? Maybe a hooh hah in one of these union-backed “fraternal orders of police” types? Stats prove that plain ordinary citizens stop and/or detain about six times as many as do law enforecement nationwide, and cops hurt or kill about four times as many innocents as do all other armed folks. FBI stats. Further, somewhere between one and a half and two and a half million times per year, we mundanes use our lawfully carried weapons to STOP some sort of crime. Do coppers stop that many? Nowhere near that. One more thing…. you failed… Read more »


SOME of the retired “peace officers” did the things you listed. Many others did not. REREAD the article and comprehend the full scope of those whom this bill assures the right to arms, and realise further that California law curently denies that same right to millions of California’s lawful residents on a whim. California has a population of what, some 35 or 40 million? Any idea how many concealed handgun permits are issued to “mundanes” (that is, everyone EXCEPT for those specially priviledged under this bad law) ? Last number I saw was less than 250,000. I live in a… Read more »


Good morning Jorge you disrespectful asshole. Instead of translating your democrat words to English (surely that can be done somewhere on the net) you come here and spew that jibberish out of your keyboard. Americans are having an A B C you later conversation/comments so take your foreign language and stick it in your ass. Americans are damn tired of democrats like you that are to stupid and disrespectful to speak our language. Speak English or shut the hell up! Go fix your countries problems and don’t worry about Americas!!


the above admin translation is so wretched I was glad to get Jorge’s original spanish. He makes a good point…. WHY do these retirees get special treatment, considering they are old and no longer able to perform their former duties> YOU think it is gibberish, try setting side your own pride and either ignoring him or work at comprehending his point. He’s been commenting here for some time, and he’s always rather close to the mark. You know, having some working knowledge of foreign languages is a mark of an educated person. What, are you a bit zenophobic?

Jorge Norberto Pedace


Clark Kent

Please delete the quotation marks around the words ‘peace officers’. It makes the author look like an ‘idiot’. I am sure he does not write about ‘carpenters’ or ‘dentists’ in that manner.

Bert Landry

If a ‘dentist’ or ‘carpenter’ who was officially retired and no longer practiced his trade yet still provided preferential trratment as such the quotation marks would be suitable. The author is correct.

Clark Kent

WRONG! Bert, learn to read (and spell)! The author ALREADY TOLD US that the peace officers were retired! And what in the world is ‘trratment’?


His typing is more accurate than your thinking. By referring to them as “peace officers” he indicates that the monniker used in the legislation is innaccurate. IRS agents> Parks and Recreation employees? BLM hooh hahs? NONE of these have any lawful authority to enforce the law, which is what PEACE OFFICERS by definition do.

The author IS correct.

or maybe I should have spelled that “corrrrect”. Do you still comprehend my meaning?

Chris Mallory

They should be called what they are: people of such low morals and suspect character that they took government employment. Modern law enforcement has next to nothing to do with keeping the peace. It is concerned with raising revenue for the government and oppressing the citizens.


Try a place that has no organized law enforcement then, if you make it back, tell me how LEO’s don’t thwart crime. Your comment smacks of blatent prejudice. If you’re so oppressed why stay? We have Northern and Southern borders, try one of those countries and let us know how great it is.

Clark Kent

Chris: Trust me: you are not worthy to scrape the dog poop off the shoes of a law enforcement officer. You are officially a ‘JAP’ (just another punk).


you need a good dose of reality. Do you really think the BLM, FBI, and OSP who murdered an unarmed man with his hands in the air out in Eastern Oregon, after seriously threatening his life and those of six others in his truck by firing upon them unprovoked at an illegal roadblock were “peace officers”? If so, perhaps you are ready to move to North Korea, Iran, perhaps Cuba.