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

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.


Ninth Circuit Hears Pro-Gun Haynie v. Harris

Yesterday, attorney Donald Kilmer once again represented law-abiding gun owners and The Calguns Foundation before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
This time, Kilmer argued in the federal civil rights lawsuit Haynie v. Harris, which is aimed at forcing California Attorney General Kamala Harris to clarify what constitutes a so-called “assault weapon” so that innocent people don’t continue to be falsely arrested under vague and ambiguous terms.
Plaintiffs Mark Haynie and Brendan Richards were both arrested for being in possession of an unregistered “assault weapon,” even though their rifles were not.
At the time of his arrest in 2009, Plaintiff Mark Haynie’s firearm had a “bullet button” magazine locking device and was legal to possess.
Plaintiff Brendan Richards was jailed for an extraordinary six-day period before authorities realized that his seized weapons were not banned “assault weapons.”
http://wp1.youtube.com/watch?v=1rikD_NXYg8
The case was originally dismissed by U.S. District Judge Susan Illston, who held that there was no basis for either plaintiff to fear future arrest. Following that ruling, Plaintiff Richards was falsely arrested once more by a different law enforcement agency.
The underlying problem, Kilmer argued yesterday, is that Harris – the chief law enforcement officer in the State of California – and her Department of Justice have refused to promulgate any rules or guides to law enforcement on how to accurately identify an “assault weapon” since the Third Edition was published in 2001.
While there is no deadline for a decision, the Ninth Circuit usually issues its opinions in six to twelve months after oral arguments take place and the case is submitted.
Haynie v. Harris was filed in 2010.
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UPDATE: 9th Circuit Orders Briefing on Peruta / Richards "Super En Banc" Request for Rehearing

On June 23, 2016, the Richards and Peruta plaintiffs/appellants requested that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals re-hear their respective cases with a full en banc court rather than the limited en banc panel of eleven judges (ten plus Chief Judge Sidney Thomas) that recently overturned the original three-judge panel decision.
On June 24, 2016, the Chief Judge Sidney Thomas ordered that "Appellees [Yolo County Sheriff Ed Prieto and San Diego County Sheriff William Gore] and Intervenor [California Attorney General Kamala Harris] are directed to file responses to the petitions for full court rehearing en banc filed on June 23, 2016 by Appellants Peruta and Richards. The response to each petition shall not exceed 15 pages or 4,200 words, and shall be filed within twenty-one (21) days of the date of this order. The parties shall the briefs electronically without submission of paper copies."
Richards' request for a full en banc rehearing can be viewed here.
Peruta's request for a full en banc rehearing can be viewed here.
The Court's order can be viewed here.


BREAKING: Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Rules for Civil Rights of Gun Dealers, Firearm Buyers in Important Second Amendment Decision

(San Francisco) – Three Second Amendment civil rights groups are hailing a new Second Amendment decision issued by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals today. The opinion, issued this morning in the case of Teixeira, et al. v. County of Alameda, held that the Second Amendment right of gun purchasers extends to protect gun retailers from being shut out of an area.
Under the challenged Alameda County ordinance, a new gun store must be located at least 500 feet away from any residentially zoned district, elementary, middle or high school, pre-school or day care center, another firearms sales business, or places where liquor is sold or served.
But, according to a scientific study conducted by the plaintiffs that included a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) study of the entirety of Alameda County, there are no parcels within the county that meet the ordinance’s requirements.
That, plaintiffs argued, effectively constitutes a ban on the opening of gun stores and an infringement of Second Amendment rights.
“We’re very happy to see the Court take a very principled and reasoned approach to protecting the fundamental, individual right to keep and bear arms,” said Brandon Combs, executive director of The Calguns Foundation.
“Given California’s legal requirements to use licensed dealers for firearm transfers and background checks, it’s important that retailers are able to open their doors—and keep them open.”
Today’s decision was clear that the Second Amendment doesn’t protect second-class rights.
Writing for the majority, Judge O’Scannlain held that the “right of law-abiding citizens to keep and to bear arms is not a second-class right, subject to an entirely different body of rules than the other Bill of Rights guarantees…”
“If the right of the people to keep and bear arms is to have any force, the people must have a right to acquire the very firearms they are entitled to keep and to bear. Indeed, where a right depends on subsidiary activity, it would make little sense if the right did not extend, at least partly, to such activity as well….Alameda County has offered nothing to undermine our conclusion that the right to purchase and to sell firearms is part and parcel of the historically recognized right to keep and to bear arms.”
In response to the decision, CAL-FFL President Michael Baryla noted that “the Second Amendment can only be exercised if law-abiding people are allowed access to firearms and ammunition. This win is one more reminder that access to firearms is, in fact, an integral part of the core right.”
Concluded Combs, “Today, the Court appropriately reminded the County that civil rights can’t be outlawed through piles of regulation. We look forward to securing Second Amendment rights through this case and many others to come.”
Plaintiffs on the case include three individuals who seek to open a new gun store in Alameda County. They were joined by gun rights groups The Calguns Foundation, California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees, and the Second Amendment Foundation.



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BREAKING: Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Rules for Civil Rights of Gun Dealers, Firearm Buyers in Important Second Amendment Decision

(San Francisco) – Three Second Amendment civil rights groups are hailing a new Second Amendment decision issued by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals today. The opinion, issued this morning in the case of Teixeira, et al. v. County of Alameda, held that the Second Amendment right of gun purchasers extends to protect gun retailers from being shut out of an area.

Under the challenged Alameda County ordinance, a new gun store must be located at least 500 feet away from any residentially zoned district, elementary, middle or high school, pre-school or day care center, another firearms sales business, or places where liquor is sold or served.