Former Palm Springs Unified School District police officer Alfredo Luna Jr. was arrested on January 15th for doing something every American has a constitutional right to do. He possessed an unregistered assault rifle. How now faces one count of owning an unregistered assault rifle. Before going to court Luna Tweeted, "I ask you all for a special prayer for me today as I head into court to defend my constitutional rights to freedom of speech and my 2nd amendment right." (https://twitter.com/xAlphaWarriorx/status/1396830982095863808). He is absolutely right. His arrest violates his 2nd Amendment right to bear arms, the government's motive appears to be a violation of his 1st Amendment right to freedom of speech and association, and the search warrant lacked probable cause.
2nd Amendment Analysis
The 2nd Amendment reads "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." (https://constitution.congress.gov/constitution/amendment-2/). Notice how that sentence ends with no exception to the right to bear arms. It does not say that you can only bear certain types of arms or that your right to bear arms may be infringed under certain circumstances. Despite the 2nd Amendment being written in plain English, the government has been finding excuses not to uphold it for almost a century. The National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA) was the first major transgression. The NFA imposed hefty taxes on certain types of guns for the purpose of curtaining their use. The NFA also required owners of certain types of guns to register with the government like sex offenders. Many similar and more severe laws have been passed over the years. Today the 2nd Amendment might as well read "the right to bear arms shall not be infringed unless ..." followed by a list of every type of person not allowed to bear arms. Despite being unconstitutional, the Supreme Court has been upholding most of these laws on the grounds that they bear no "reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia." see United States v. Miller (https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/307/174). The logic being that a militia would be worse off if it included certain types of arms or people. When convicted felons, the mentally ill, and people subject to restraining orders were banned from bearing arms the courts reasoned that a "well regulated militia" would be better off without such people. This pattern of eliminating people that might not make the best soldier for a militia is nonsense. The founding fathers created the 2nd Amendment so that the people would be able to defend themselves should their government become tyrannical. The "well regulated militia" the founders referred to is a militia best equipped to overthrow the government. A militia is not best equipped when recruits are systematically denied membership and those that do join can only carry weapons too weak to rival the government's arsenal. Today no militia is capable of challenging the government because they can't legally become "well regulated" as long as the government interprets "regulated" to mean regulated by the government. Alfredo Luna was obviously aware of the fact that he had a 2nd Amendment right to possess an assault rifle. He was also aware of the fact that decades of unconstitutional legislation made it illegal for him to exercise that right.
1st Amendment Analysis
Investigators admit that they targeted Luna because of his speech. Luna is an active supporter of Qanon theory on social media. Our background check service listed freddieluna[at]verizon.net and freddie.luna79[at]gmail.com as likely belonging to a 41 year old man living in Cathedral City, California named Alfredo Flores Luna. It also linked those email addresses to a Twitter account at https://twitter.com/FreddieLuna21. That Twitter account is suspended, but when we searched Google for cached content from that account we found a status update (https://twitter.com/FreddieLuna21/status/1272174282349527040) that redirects to xAlphaWarriorx. We instantly recognized the profile picture of xAlphaWarriorx as Alfredo Luna. We also noticed a link to a fundraising page called Defend Patriot Luna which has raised slightly over $2,000 for his defense (https://givesendgo.com/DefendPatriotLuna). Luna's Twitter account is packed with Qanon content and the FBI alleges that some of that content is threatening, but oddly whatever he posted was not enough to get his Twitter account shut down. Because of his posts the FBI flagged him as a possible domestic terrorist and obtained a Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO) against him. We are not in the position to say if Luna's posts were threatening or not because we have not seen them, but we doubt that he posted any true threats because he is not charged with making threats. "True threats" are defined by the Ninth Circuit as, "a statement which, in the entire context and under all the circumstances, a reasonable person would foresee would be interpreted by those to whom the statement is communicated as a serious expression of intent to inflict bodily harm upon that person." (https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution-conan/amendment-1/threats-of-violence-against-individuals). The FBI went to the trouble of getting a GVRO, a search warrant to confiscate guns pursuant to the GVRO, and charged Luna with the one unregistered gun they found. We think that had Luna posted anything illegal on the internet such as a "true threat" that he would have been charged for it as well. It appears to us that the FBI put together a profile of someone labeled dangerous because of his speech and associations. Then they used that profile to justify a pre-emptive gun seizure which produced an illegal gun. If he was targeted just because he supports Qanon, associates with Three Percenters, and hates certain government officials this entire case is a 1st Amendment violation.
4th Amendment Analysis
Normally the police need probably cause that a crime was committed before they can search someone's home for anything. The California Red Flag law has essentially eliminated that requirement by allowing search warrants to be issued against anyone if the government says there is a "substantial likelihood that the subject of the petition poses a significant danger of harm to himself, herself, or another in the near future" (https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140AB1014). How does this not violate the 4th Amendment which clearly reads "no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause" (https://constitution.congress.gov/constitution/amendment-4/)? In this case it seems that the only probably cause the government needs to show is probably cause that someone might commit a crime in the future. We believe that Luna should file a motion to suppress the gun on the grounds that GVRO warrants such as his do not require the showing of probably cause that a crime has been committed necessary to justify searching his home for evidence of a crime.
Luna's employment history is kind of sketchy. He used to be a Cathedral City Police officer but he was fired for some type of misconduct that we don't know the specifics about. Luna claims that he bought his unregistered assault rifle from a fellow CCPD officer while he was on the force. After being fired he became a Palm Springs Unified School District officer. Luna appears to be a gypsy cop. Gypsy cops are cops that move from department to department because they get into trouble and are still able to find a new job.
Luna was not the best cop in the world, but he still has just as much of a right to free speech as the rest of us. You don't have to agree with his views, but nobody should be subjected to search and seizure for supporting a controversial movement. What is scary here is that the government is free to invade anyone's home as long as they fill out paperwork labeling them as dangerous. They don't need probably cause that you broke any laws and anything they find will be used against you just the same. This kind of government is exactly what the founding fathers wanted us to be able to defend ourselves from when they wrote the 2nd Amendment.
UPDATE: Luna responded to this article on Twitter here is his response in its entirety:
"I appreciate your defense of my rights, however let me add a little more info on the gypsy cop. I won my arbitration case against the Cathedral City, in a 36 page judgment. Every single allegation was overturn and the judge identified the detective who should have been investigated. Also I would suggest looking into lies the city gave to media that media quietly tried to correct in this new article at the end. They state Luna was not terminated for falsifying a time card, even though that's one of 2 reasons the city reported to them in their original article. The city conveniently left out the real reason they used in my termination, which involved a homicide case I argued the wrong suspects were arrested. The arbitrator also noticed this and stated the city used me as a "scapegoat." I'll let you investigate that interesting fact. So in short I was a good cop, targeted for speaking up. My career proves that-13 years without any discipline issues until a new chief arrived 'Travis Walker.' I was investigator of the year a few months before being put on administrative leave leading to my termination. The year before, Police Officer of the year multiple awards including the Medal of Valor. I'm sure in your research those are traits that don't line up with the story the media and city are painting. Good always prevails and the truth always surfaces. Let me be very clear, there are some excellent and amazing people who work at CCPD who risk their lives daily and they need to be supported, unfortunately there are some in positions of power who are not good. I hope the good ones that are still there have the courage to stand up and speak out. " - https://twitter.com/xAlphaWarriorx/status/1397081098304122881
Here is a link to the GVRO https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/20473890-luna-extremist which does not quote anything he said. That is a huge red flag as to its legitimacy. As Luna told us on Twitter:
"When I wrote warrants and used a statement like this..a quote would also be attached to support my statement. I think you know why a quote or post wasnt attached. That information should be public soon I hope." - https://twitter.com/xAlphaWarriorx/status/1397321462051078145
Luna is correct. When police make statements like that they usually attach proof to back up their claims. They only choose not to when they know it will hurt their case. In this case, Rialto Police Detective John Candias stated that Luna displayed "pre-incident indicators or extreme violence" followed by a generalized statement that "persons motivated by violent ideation become increasingly radicalized and move through various stages prior to violence which includes experiencing a precipitous event that acts as a trigger to carry out the attack." That statement may pertain to some people, but it is not relevant when determining if a specific individual is dangerous absent proof that they are actually planning on doing something.
Det. Candias then describe why he felt that label applied to Luna, "Notably, Luna Jr. advocates violence and is an adherent of emerging domestic extremism organizations. He has gone as far as posting messages and images of his discontent for government officials and advocates for others to carry out violence." We see two problems with that statement:
First, one cannot be legally categorized as dangerous for the purpose of taking their rights away just because they adhere to any specific ideology or voice support for any specific group. If he were a Muslim, adhered to radical Islamist views, and voiced his support for Al-Qaeda that would not necessarily make him a dangerous person and it certainly would not justify stripping him of his rights;
Second, it is a crime in and of itself to openly advocate that others carry out violence. If he made a specific threat of imminent violent action that would violate federal laws against threatening communications (https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/875) and if he tried to motivate others to commit violent acts that would violate federal laws against soliciting or attempting to solicit others to commit violent crimes (https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/373).
When the police charge someone with a crime they always hit them with as many additional charges as they can to gain leverage in plea negotiations. They call that "stacking the deck." In this scenario had Luna made any statement online that could be viewed by a reasonable person as a threat to commit an act of violence or an attempt to solicit others to commit violence he would be charged with something based on those statements. Instead, Det. Candias presented the court with a generalized summary containing his subjective opinion of Luna's words and none of Luna's words themselves. In such cases the truth usually turns out to be some hateful statement that stops short of being a true threat. It could be something like praising the Capitol Hill protesters, saying that certain government officials should be removed from office for stealing an election, or that someone should try to stop the inauguration somehow. There is a big difference between saying something like "Joe's got to go" and "please shoot Joe." The latter would be a criminal attempt to get Joe shot and the former is merely an opinion that everyone has a right to voice under the First Amendment. Combining that opinion with known adherence to ay ideology does not change anything.
This method of targeting people based on their beliefs is very dangerous. It basically means that any officer can legally take anyone's guns away by claiming that they display "pre-incident indicators." If this is allowed to continue what is to stop the government from compiling a list of every ideology or group that they consider dangerous and obtaining GVROs against everyone known to support them?