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Case 2:16-cv-02572-BRO-AFM Document 1 Filed 04/14/16 Page 1 of 12 Page ID #:1





BENBROOK LAW GROUP, PC
BRADLEY A. BENBROOK (SBN 177786)
STEPHEN M. DUVERNAY (SBN 250957)
400 Capitol Mall, Suite 1610
Sacramento, CA 95814
Telephone: (916) 447-4900
Facsimile: (916) 447-4904
[email protected]
[email protected]


Attorneys for Plaintiffs





ULISES GARCIA; JORDAN GALLINGER;
BRIAN HILL; BROOKE HILL; CRAIG
DELUZ; SCOTT DIPMAN; ALBERT
DUNCAN; TRACEY GRAHAM; LISA JANG;
DENNIS SERBU; MICHAEL VEREDAS;
FIREARMS POLICY FOUNDATION;
FIREARMS POLICY COALITION;
MADISON SOCIETY FOUNDATION; and
THE CALGUNS FOUNDATION,


Plaintiffs,


v.


KAMALA D. HARRIS, in her official capacity
as Attorney General of California,



Defendant.

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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA






Case No.:



COMPLAINT FOR DECLARATORY,
INJUNCTIVE, OR OTHER RELIEF







COMPLAINT FOR DECLARATORY AND INJUNCTIVE RELIEF

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Plaintiffs Ulises Garcia, Jordan Gallinger, Brian Hill, Brooke Hill, Craig DeLuz, Scott

Dipman, Albert Duncan, Tracey Graham, Lisa Jang, Dennis Serbu, Michael Veredas, Firearms

Policy Foundation, Firearms Policy Coalition, Madison Society Foundation, and The Calguns

Foundation complain of Defendant and allege:

INTRODUCTION



1.

Plaintiffs bring this suit to challenge the constitutionality of California Penal Code

section 626.9, subdivision (o), which exempts “honorably retired peace officers” from the Gun-

Free School Zone Act’s prohibition against possessing a firearm in a school zone. The purpose of

the Gun-Free School Zone Act (the “Act”) is, as the name demonstrates, to make schools “free”

from guns, except in the case of individuals authorized to perform military, law enforcement, and

contracted security duties. The Act exempts individuals employed as “peace officers,” members

of the military, private security guards, and others actually employed to provide statutorily

authorized security or law-enforcement services.



2.

Private citizens who possess a California license to carry a concealed weapon

(“CCW”)—issued only after passage of a rigorous background check, and only then on approval

by the person’s county sheriff or the chief of their municipal police department pursuant to

California law—were previously exempt from the Act’s prohibitions. But the California

Legislature removed that exemption in 2015.



3.

Despite this, the Act contains an extraordinarily broad exemption for “honorably

retired peace officer[s] authorized to carry a concealed or loaded firearm” under separate

provisions of the Penal Code. As shown below, this exemption spreads far beyond retired police

officers and sheriff’s deputies to cover a broadly defined group of “law enforcement” agents,

including, for example, retired employees of the California Department of Fish and Game who

enforced the California Fish and Game Code, and retired marshals appointed “to keep order and

preserve peace at the California Exposition and State Fair.” Cal. Penal Code §§ 830.2, 25450; Cal.

Food & Agric. Code § 3332(j). The exemption is so broad that it even applies to retirees from

“any federal law enforcement agency” authorized to carry a concealed weapon, regardless of

whether they ever used a weapon in their pre-retirement duties. Thus, for instance, retired Internal



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Revenue Service agents and other federal agents are exempt simply by virtue of retiring in

California or working for the agency in California for more than a year. Cal. Penal Code §

25650(a).



4.

In Silveira v. Lockyer, 312 F.3d 1052, 1088 (9th Cir. 2002), the Ninth Circuit struck

down a provision exempting retired peace officers from the prohibitions of the California Assault

Weapons Control Act when all other private citizens were subject to its prohibitions. The Ninth

Circuit held that this unequal treatment violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth

Amendment to the Constitution, as there was no rational basis to treat retired peace officers

differently than similarly situated members of the general public. 312 F.3d at 1089–92.



5.

Silveira’s rationale applies with equal, if not greater, force here. Individual

Plaintiffs are responsible, law-abiding citizens who also possess a license to carry a handgun for

self-defense under California law and are statutorily required to maintain their background check

and proficiency with firearms. Silveira establishes that an active peace officer’s role as a law

enforcement agent provides a rational basis for distinguishing between a duly sworn and

authorized peace officer and a private citizen for the purpose of the carrying of firearms in

otherwise proscribed areas such as school zones. Because retired officers are not authorized to

engage in law enforcement activities any more than other private citizens, however, there is no

rational reason to treat them differently than Plaintiffs.



6.

The purpose of this lawsuit is not to engineer a restoration of the exemption to the

Act for “mere” private citizens with a license to carry. Rather, the purpose is to obtain a ruling

that the preferential treatment given to retired peace officers over similarly-situated private citizens

violates the Equal Protection Clause. “The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment

commands that no State shall ‘deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the

laws,’ which is essentially a direction that all persons similarly situated should be treated alike.”

City of Cleburne v. Cleburne Living Ctr., 473 U.S. 432, 439 (1985) (citation omitted).



7.

Because Section 626.9(o)’s exemption violates the Equal Protection Clause,

Plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief to invalidate it and enjoin its enforcement or

application.



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JURISDICTION AND VENUE



8.

This case raises questions under the Constitution of the United States and 42 U.S.C.

§ 1983 and this Court has jurisdiction over all claims for relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331.





9.

Venue is proper under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b).

THE PARTIES

10.

Plaintiff Ulises Garcia, M.D. is a California resident who possesses a license to

carry a concealed weapon issued by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department pursuant to

California Penal Code section 26150, et seq. Dr. Garcia is a Board Certified Emergency Medicine

specialist practicing in the San Fernando Valley of Southern California. Dr. Garcia is married and

has three school-age children. He sought and obtained a carry license to protect himself and his

family in response to multiple threats of violence from a former patient.



11.

Plaintiff Jordan Gallinger is a California resident who possesses a license to carry a

concealed weapon issued by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department pursuant to

California Penal Code section 26150, et seq. Gallinger is a veteran of the United States Marine

Corps who served in the war in Afghanistan and qualified as an expert in the Marine Corps

Combat Marksmanship Program. He is currently enrolled as a full-time student at California State

University, San Bernardino.



12.

Plaintiffs Brian and Brooke Hill are California residents who each possess a license

to carry a concealed weapon issued by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department pursuant to

California Penal Code section 26150, et seq. The Hills have two school-age children, and both

regularly carried concealed weapons at their children’s respective schools before Senate Bill 707

went into effect on January 1, 2016.



13.

Plaintiff Craig DeLuz is a California resident who possesses a license to carry a

concealed weapon issued by the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department pursuant to California

Penal Code section 26150, et seq. DeLuz serves as the President of the Robla School District

Board of Trustees. He also serves as a coach for the cross country and track and field teams at Rio

Linda High School.

///



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14.

Plaintiff Scott Dipman is a California resident who possesses a license to carry a

concealed weapon issued by San Mateo County Sheriff’s Department pursuant to California Penal

Code section 26150, et seq. Dipman is the father of two school-age sons with special needs who

must be accompanied to their classrooms each morning.



15.

Plaintiff Albert Duncan is a California resident who possesses a license to carry a

concealed weapon issued by San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department pursuant to California

Penal Code section 26150, et seq. Duncan served as a flight medic in the United States Army, and

currently works as a firefighter-paramedic for the Oakland Fire Department. Duncan has a school-

age son.



16.

Plaintiff Tracey Graham is a California resident who possesses a license to carry a

concealed weapon issued by San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department pursuant to California

Penal Code section 26150, et seq. Graham is a veteran of the United States Air Force. Graham’s

partner has school-age children.



17.

Plaintiff Lisa Jang is a California resident who possesses a license to carry a

concealed weapon issued by the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department pursuant to California

Penal Code section 26150, et seq. Jang is currently enrolled as a full-time student at California

State University, Sacramento. She obtained her carry license for personal protection, in response

to multiple reports of crime on and near the campus, including armed robbery, rape, and sexual

assault.



18.

Plaintiff Dennis Serbu is a California resident who possesses a license to carry a

concealed weapon issued by the Placer County Sheriff’s Department pursuant to California Penal

Code section 26150, et seq. Serbu is a veteran of the Vietnam war and served ten years as a

reserve police officer for the Cottonwood, Arizona police department. Now retired, he has twelve

grandchildren and is involved with their school activities.



19.

Plaintiff Michael Veredas is a California resident who possesses a license to carry a

concealed weapon issued by the Fresno County Sheriff’s Department pursuant to California Penal

Code section 26150, et seq. Veredas served as a hospital corpsman in the United States Navy and

served three combat deployments with the United States Marine Corps before his honorable



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discharge in 2005. He has two children.



20.

Plaintiff Firearms Policy Foundation (“FPF”) is a non-profit organization that

serves the public through charitable and educational purposes, with a focus on advancing

constitutional rights with a particular focus on laws relating to firearms and affecting the

fundamental right to keep and bear arms. FPF believes Penal Code section 626.9(o) is

unconstitutional. Before SB 707 passed, the organization spent funds and resources to research the

bill’s constitutionality, educate the public about the bill, address its members’ concerns and

complaints about the bill, advocate to the Legislature against SB 707’s passage, and urge the

Governor’s veto. Many of FPF’s members are CCW holders who have been directly affected by

the change in the law, and FPF has spent funds and resources addressing its members’ questions,

concerns, and complaints about Penal Code section 626.9(o).



21.

Plaintiff Firearms Policy Coalition (“FPC”) is a non-profit organization that serves

its members and the public through direct and grassroots advocacy, legal efforts, and education.

The purposes of FPC include defending the United States Constitution and the People’s rights,

privileges and immunities deeply rooted in the Nation’s history and tradition, especially the

fundamental right to keep and bear arms. FPC believes Penal Code section 626.9(o) is

unconstitutional. Before SB 707 passed, the organization spent funds and resources to research the

bill’s constitutionality, educate the public about the bill, address its members’ concerns and

complaints about the bill, advocate to the Legislature against SB 707’s passage, and urge the

Governor’s veto. Many of FPC’s members are CCW holders who have been directly affected by

the change in the law, and FPC has spent funds and resources addressing its members’ questions,

concerns, and complaints about Penal Code section 626.9(o).

22.

Plaintiff Madison Society Foundation is a membership-based non-profit

organization whose purpose is preserving and protecting the legal and constitutional right to keep

and bear arms for its members and all responsible law-abiding citizens. The organization spends

time and resources on outreach, education and training related to assisting its members—and the

law-abiding public in general—in obtaining and maintaining licenses to carry firearms for self-

defense and for other Second Amendment purposes. The Madison Society believes Penal Code



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section 626.9(o) is unconstitutional. Many of the organization’s members are CCW holders who

have been directly affected by the change in the law, and FPC has spent funds and resources

addressing its members’ questions, concerns, and complaints about SB 707 and Penal Code section

626.9(o).

23.

Plaintiff The Calguns Foundation (“CGF”) is a non-profit organization that serves

its members, supporters, and the public through educational, cultural, and judicial efforts to

advance Second Amendment and related civil rights. CGF believes Penal Code section 626.9(o) is

unconstitutional. Before SB 707 passed, the organization spent funds and resources to research the

bill’s constitutionality, educate the public about the bill, address its members’ concerns and

complaints about the bill, and advocate to the Legislature against SB 707’s passage. Many of

CGF’s members are CCW holders who have been directly affected by the change in the law, and

CGF has spent funds and resources addressing its members’ questions, concerns, and complaints

about Penal Code section 626.9(o).



24.

Defendant Kamala Harris is the Attorney General of the State of California. The

Attorney General is the chief law enforcement officer of the state, and it is her duty to ensure that

California’s laws are uniformly and adequately enforced. Attorney General Harris is sued in her

official capacity. The Attorney General maintains an office in Los Angeles.

CALIFORNIA ALLOWS AN EXTREMELY BROAD GROUP OF RETIRED

“PEACE OFFICERS” TO CARRY CONCEALED WEAPONS ON SCHOOL GROUNDS,

BUT NOT OTHER, SIMILARLY SITUATED PRIVATE CITIZENS

25.

The Gun-Free School Zone Act of 1995, California Penal Code section 626.9,

prohibits persons from possessing a firearm in a school zone, which is defined as “an area in, or on

the grounds of, a public or private school providing instruction in kindergarten or grades 1 to 12,

inclusive, or within a distance of 1,000 feet from the grounds of the public or private school.”

Penal Code § 626.9(e)(4). Violation of the Act is a misdemeanor or felony. See id., subd. (f).

26.

The Act contains an exemption for “duly appointed peace officer[s]” who remain in

service. Penal Code § 626.9(l). The Act’s prohibition likewise does not apply to a few classes of

people who are licensed to carry a firearm as part of their professional duties so long as they are on



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the job:

[A] full-time paid peace officer of another state or the federal government who is
carrying out official duties while in California, any person summoned by any of
these officers to assist in making arrests or preserving the peace while he or she is
actually engaged in assisting the officer, a member of the military forces of this state
or of the United States who is engaged in the performance of his or her duties, or an
armored vehicle guard, engaged in the performance of his or her duties, as defined in
subdivision (d) of Section 7582.1 of the Business and Professions Code.

Penal Code § 626.9(l); see also id., subd. (m) (exempting certain security guards authorized to

carry a loaded firearm, while acting within the course and scope of their employment).

27.

The purpose of the Gun-Free School Zone Act is, as the name demonstrates, to

make schools “free” from guns, except in the case of peace officers and security personnel who are

performing their duties.

28.

Yet the Act also contains a sweeping exemption for “honorably retired peace

officer[s] authorized to carry a concealed or loaded firearm” under several different Penal Code

sections. Id., subd. (o) (listing separate statutory authorizations).

29.

As originally enacted, the Act contained a blanket exemption for all private citizens

who are licensed to carry a concealed firearm pursuant to Penal Code section 26150. In 2015, the

Legislature amended the statute to remove the exemption for carry licensees on school grounds,

and it added a provision authorizing carry licensees to carry a firearm “within a distance of 1,000

feet from the grounds of the public or private school.” Senate Bill 707 (2014–2015 Reg. Sess.,

Wolk). See Penal Code § 626.9(c)(5). While the Bill sought to eliminate both the CCW and

retired law enforcement exemptions during its initial form, it was later amended to restore the

retired “peace officer” exemption.

30.

In Silveira v. Lockyer, the Ninth Circuit struck down a provision exempting retired

peace officers from the prohibitions of the California Assault Weapons Control Act on Equal

Protection grounds, holding that “the retired officers exception arbitrarily and unreasonably affords

a privilege to one group of individuals that is denied to others . . . .” 312 F.3d at 1091. Rejecting

the argument that “some peace officers receive more extensive training regarding the use of

firearms than do members of the public,” the Court stressed that this purported justification “bears

no reasonable relationship to the stated legislative purpose of banning the possession and use of



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assault weapons in California, except for certain law enforcement purposes.” Id. Retired peace

officers are, by definition, no longer engaging in law enforcement purposes—just like their fellow

private citizens.

31.

The California Attorney General reached a similar conclusion in 2010, when asked

whether “a peace officer who purchases and registers an assault weapon in order to use the weapon

for law enforcement purposes [would be] permitted to continue to possess [it] after retirement.”

Att’y Gen. Op. No. 09-901, 93 Ops. Cal. Atty. Gen. 130 (2010). Relying on Silveira, then-

Attorney General Edmund G. Brown, Jr., explained why the answer was “No”:


Silveira teaches that it is the a [sic] 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.


Id. at *8 (emphasis in original).

32.

Likewise, Section 626.9(o) arbitrarily and irrationally subjects Plaintiffs to unequal

treatment in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the

Constitution.

33.

Individual plaintiffs are responsible, law-abiding citizens who possess licenses to

carry concealed weapons under California law. In order to obtain a carry license, Plaintiffs were

required to demonstrate “good moral character,” complete a firearms training course, and establish

“good cause.” Cal. Penal Code §§ 26150, 26155. In applying these standards, several counties

have interpreted the “good cause” requirement to require that an applicant demonstrate an elevated

need for self-defense due to a specific threats or previous attacks against them. The Los Angeles

County Sheriff’s Department Concealed Weapon Licensing Policy, for example, states:


[G]ood cause shall exist only if there is convincing evidence of a clear and present
danger to life, or of great bodily harm to the applicant, his spouse, or dependent
child, which cannot be adequately dealt with by existing law enforcement
resources, and which danger cannot be reasonably avoided by alternative measures,
and which danger would be significantly mitigated by the applicant’s carrying of a
concealed firearm.


Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Concealed Weapon Licensing Policy at 2

(emphasis in original).



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34.

Retired “peace officers,” by stark contrast, are not subject to these same screening

requirements but rather appear to be eligible to carry firearms as a matter of course. California

Penal Code section 25455, for instance, provides that retired California peace officers who ever

carried a gun during their service “shall be issued an identification certificate by the law

enforcement agency from which the officer retired” and “shall have an endorsement on the

identification certificate stating that the issuing agency approves the officer’s carrying of a

concealed firearm.” Cal. Penal Code § 25455(a), (c); id., § 25450(d). And the exemption under

section 626.9(o) extends far beyond retired police officers and deputy sheriffs. It applies, for

example, to:









Retired employees of the Department of Fish and Game who enforced the Fish and

Game Code (§ 830.2(e));

Retired employees of the Department of Parks and Recreation who enforced the

Public Resources Code (§ 830.2(f));

Retired employees of the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection who enforced

the Public Resources Code (§ 830.2(g)); and

Retired marshals “appointed by the Board of Directors of the California Exposition

and State Fair” whose primary duty was enforcing Section 3332 of the Food and

Agricultural Code, which establishes the powers of the board of the State Fair (§

830.2(i)).

These retirees need only re-apply every five years to their former agency to keep the special

treatment, id. § 25465, and the former agency needs “good cause” to not renew it. Id. § 25470.

35.

Similarly, and perhaps even more broadly, Section 626.9(o) exempts “any

honorably retired federal officer or agent of any federal law enforcement agency” covered by

Penal Code section 25650 (which exempts retired federal officers from the Penal Code’s ban on

carrying a concealed weapon), regardless of whether that retired federal officer or agent ever

carried a gun in their federal “peace officer” duties. Cal. Penal Code § 25650(a). It is sufficient if

the “officer or agent” was simply “assigned to duty within the state for a period of not less than

one year” or “retired from active service in the state.” Id. Under this exemption, a covered federal



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officer simply provides their local sheriff or chief of police with their agency’s “concurrence” that

the retiree “should be afforded the privilege of carrying a concealed firearm.” Id., subd. (b). This

exemption covers agents that include, but are not limited to, retired agents from the United States

Customs Service or “any officer or agent of the Internal Revenue Service.” Id., § 25650(a).

36.

The net result is that the Act bars law-abiding citizens who maintain a government-

issued CCW from possessing a firearm “in or on” school grounds, but it grants a blanket

exemption to a broadly defined group of retired “peace officers,” none of whom have continuing

authority to engage in “peace officer” activities: by definition, they are retired, they have returned

to the ranks of private citizens, and they are no longer authorized to engage in law enforcement

activities. See Silveira, 312 F.3d at 1090–92. They simply have potent political and lobbying

operations that convinced the Legislature that retired “peace officers” should be granted favorable

treatment over mere private citizens for the rest of their lives. There is no rational reason to treat

them differently than Plaintiffs.

37.

An actual and judicially cognizable controversy exists between Plaintiffs and

Defendant regarding whether Section 626.9(o) violates the Equal Protection Clause. Plaintiffs

desire a judicial declaration of their rights and Defendant’s duties regarding the constitutionality

and continued enforcement of the statute.

CLAIM FOR RELIEF

VIOLATION OF 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (EQUAL PROTECTION)

38.

Plaintiffs incorporate here by reference paragraphs 1 through 37, supra, as if fully

set forth herein.

39.

Penal Code section 626.9(o) violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth

Amendment to the Constitution, both on its face and as applied to Plaintiffs.

40.

Plaintiffs are responsible, law-abiding citizens who possess licenses to carry

handguns for self-defense under California law. Because section 626.9(o)’s exemption irrationally

favors a broad class of retired “peace officers” authorized to carry concealed weapons over

Plaintiffs, it violates the Equal Protection Clause.

///



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PRAYER FOR RELIEF

Wherefore, Plaintiffs pray for judgment as follows:

1.

Plaintiffs respectfully request that this Court, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2201,





construe Penal Code section 626.9(o) and enter a declaratory judgment stating that it violates the

Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.



2.

Plaintiffs respectfully request that this Court enter a preliminary and permanent

injunction enjoining enforcement or application of Penal Code section 626.9(o).



3.

Plaintiffs respectfully request costs of suit, including reasonable attorneys’ fees

under 42 U.S.C. § 1988 and any other applicable law, and all further relief to which Plaintiffs may

be justly entitled.

Dated: April 14, 2016


BENBROOK LAW GROUP, PC



By /s Bradley A. Benrbook

BRADLEY A. BENBROOK
Attorneys for Plaintiffs






COMPLAINT FOR DECLARATORY AND INJUNCTIVE RELIEF

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