SACRAMENTO – Today, Governor Brown signed into law Senate Bill 707, prohibiting gun owners issued a license by their local police chief or sheriff from carrying handguns for self-defense on California school grounds. It also subjects those with a carry permit, issued only after passing a strict, fingerprint-based background check and agency-approved training course, harsh new criminal liability for merely possessing a single round of ammunition on the grounds of any school or college campus, even if they don’t also possess a firearm.
Brandon Combs, the President of Firearms Policy Coalition, stated, “This is not just an attack on our Second Amendment rights, it is an attack on the most vulnerable in our society. Victims of domestic violence and stalking, judges, prosecutors, and public defenders who have a carry license will now have to leave their registered self-defense handguns at home when picking up their children at school, leaving them without the necessary protection from violent criminals.”
As introduced in February, SB 707 would have broadly eliminated carry on campus for virtually everyone except on-duty police or others specifically authorized to assist in an emergency. But the powerful law enforcement lobby immediately reacted to the gun control bill by offering their full support — in exchange for preservation of existing exemptions for law enforcement retirees. They later cut deals to add in even more special exemptions, including for retired police reservists. Combs believes that this is blatantly unconstitutional.
“The Ninth Circuit decided well over a decade ago that retired police officers are no different than retired plumbers for the purposes of gun laws,” explained Combs. The 2002 Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision striking down a California law that gave retired law enforcement officers special exemptions from the Assault Weapons Control Act was reinforced in a 2010 legal opinion issued by then-Attorney General Jerry Brown.
In the 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.”
Additionally, Firearms Policy Coalition members and supporters submitted over 40,000 letters to the Governor’s office urging a veto of SB 707.
Combs concluded, “It is unfortunate that the Governor has ignored the will of his constituents, common sense, and his own legal opinion. We will now focus on preparing the lawsuit we promised we would file against this unconstitutional law.”