The passage of SB-2 (2023-2024) has raised a number of questions about the security of retired peace officers and the continued ability to carry a concealed firearm.  The purpose of this Client Alert is to explain the limits of SB-2 and affirm the authority of retired peace officers to carry a concealed firearm.

Among the changes implemented by SB-2, the legislation adds Section 26230 to the California Penal Code.  Section 26230 imposes 29 far-reaching restrictions on where the holder of a concealed carry license may exercise the authorization to carry a concealed firearm.  Of note, our collective law enforcement experience has shown us many of the types of locations found within these areas of restriction are venues where communities have suffered previous mass shootings and would be places of priority to retired law enforcement officers.

In addition to imposing the license restrictions referenced above, Section 26230 also resolves the question of how SB-2 impacts retired peace officers:

“(a) A person granted a license to carry a pistol, revolver, or other firearm capable of being concealed upon the person pursuant to Section 26150, 26155, or 26170 shall not carry a firearm on or into any of the following: . . .” (Cal. Pen. Code § 26230).

Section 26150 is the section authorizing a sheriff to issue a license to carry a concealed firearm:

“(a) When a person applies for a new license or license renewal to carry a pistol, revolver, or other firearm capable of being concealed upon the person, the sheriff of a county shall issue or renew a license to that person upon proof of all of the following: . . .” (Cal. Pen. Code § 26150).

Similarly, Section 26155 is the provision authorizing municipal police chiefs to issue licenses to carry a concealed firearm:

“(a) When a person applies for a new license or license renewal to carry a pistol, revolver, or other firearm capable of being concealed upon the person, the chief or other head of a municipal police department of any city or city and county shall issue or renew a license to that person upon proof of all of the following: . . .” (Cal. Pen. Code § 26155).

Section 26170 is the final authority for issuing a license where the license is constrained by the restrictions of SB-2.  This section pertains to licenses to applicants who hold positions including as a reserve or auxiliary sheriff or city police officer, reserve deputy sheriffs, reserve police officers of a regional park district or of a transit district, or a reserve park ranger.  (Cal. Pen. Code § 830.6(a)(1)).

“(3) The applicant has been deputized or appointed as a peace officer pursuant to subdivision (a) or (b) of Section 830.6 by that sheriff or that chief of police or other head of a municipal police department.” (Cal. Pen. Code § 26170).

Distinct from these three statutory basis for issuing licenses, deputy sheriffs or police officers who are employees of a Sheriff’s Office or municipal police department derive their authority as a peace officer from Penal Code section 830.1(a).  The exemptions defined in Penal Code Sections 25450 and 25900 incorporate Section 830.1, and are the basis for an honorably retired peace officer appointed and employed under Section 830.1(a) being authorized to carry a firearm.  This authority is not impacted by Section 26230 adopted by SB-2.  

Consistent with this analysis, the first restriction identified under Section 26230 is places prohibited by Section 626.9 of the Penal Code.  Section 626.9 contains an exemption for honorably retired peace officers and was amended by SB-2.  The exemption for honorably retired peace officers, however, remained in place.

(o) This section does not apply to an honorably retired peace officer authorized to carry a concealed or loaded firearm pursuant to any of the following:

(1) Article 2 (commencing with Section 25450) of Chapter 2 of Division 5 of Title 4 of Part 6.

(2) Section 25650.

(3) Sections 25900 to 25910, inclusive.

(4) Section 26020.

(5) Paragraph (2) of subdivision (c) of Section 26300.

2023 Cal. ALS 249, 2023 Cal. SB 2, 2023 Cal. Stats. ch. 249

Similarly, SB-2 also amended Penal Code Section 171b, the statute which prohibits bringing a weapon into state or local buildings or any meeting required to be open to the public.  SB-2 also imposed license restrictions pertaining to public buildings.  Section 171b contains an exemption for honorably retired peace officers.  This specific portion of the statute had a text change under SB-2, but the exemption remained intact.

  1. A duly appointed peace officer as defined in Chapter 4.5 (commencing with Section 830) of Title 3 of Part 2, a retired peace officer with authorization to carry concealed weapons as described in Article 2 (commencing with Section 25450) of Chapter 2 of Division 5 of Title 4 of Part 6, a full-time paid peace officer of another state or the federal government who is carrying out official duties while in California, or any person summoned by any of these officers to assist in making arrests or preserving the peace while they are actually engaged in assisting the officer.

2023 Cal. ALS 249, 2023 Cal. SB 2, 2023 Cal. Stats. ch. 249

Again, consistent with this interpretation, SB-2 also restricted concealed weapon licenses as pertaining to areas under the control of airports and amended Penal Code 171.5, the associated criminal section prohibiting carrying firearms in these locations.  Section 171.5 also contained an exemption for honorably retired peace officers.  That portion of the statute also had a text change, but the exemption for retirees remained intact:

(d) Subdivisions (b) and (c) shall not apply to, or affect, any of the following:

(1) A duly appointed peace officer, as defined in Chapter 4.5 (commencing with Section 830) of Title 3 of Part 2, a retired peace officer with authorization to carry concealed weapons as described in Article 2 (commencing with Section 25450) of Chapter 2 of Division 5 of Title 4 of Part 6, a full-time paid peace officer of another state or the federal government who is carrying out official duties while in California, or any person summoned by any of these officers to assist in making arrests or preserving the peace while they are actually engaged in assisting the officer.

2023 Cal ALS 249, 2023 Cal SB 2, 2023 Cal Stats. ch. 249

As a final illustration, SB-2 restricted licenses pertaining to public transportation and property under the control of a public transportation authority.  Penal Code Section 171.7 was also amended, the criminal statute pertaining to possession of a weapon in a public transit facility.  This section also contained an exemption for retired peace officers and that exemption was not altered.

(c)

(1) Subdivision (b) shall not apply to, or affect, any of the following:

(B) A retired peace officer with authorization to carry concealed weapons as described in Article 2 (commencing with Section 25450) of Chapter 2 of Division 5 of Title 4 of Part 6.

2023 Cal. ALS 249, 2023 Cal. SB 2, 2023 Cal. Stats. ch. 249

HOW THIS AFFECTS YOUR AGENCY

The authority of an honorably retired peace officer to carry a firearm is fundamentally different from what is granted to an applicant seeking a license to carry a concealed weapon.  It emanates from their public status as peace officers, as opposed to being granted authorization through a licensing process.  For this reason, it is not altered by the restrictions created under SB-2 and what is contained in Penal Code Section 26230.

As always, if you want to discuss any of this in greater detail, do not hesitate to contact James Touchstone at jrt@jones-mayer.com or by telephone at (714) 446-1400.Information on www.jones-mayer.com is for general use and is not legal advice.  The mailing of this Client Alert Memorandum is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client-relationship.