Judge Rules That Ban on Guns Without Serial Numbers is Unconstitutional

A federal statute that forbids the possession of weapons with their serial numbers destroyed has been declared illegal by a judge.

Serial Numbers Prevent Sale of Illegal Firearms

The relevant statute forbids anybody from crossing state borders with a firearm whose serial number has been “altered, obliterated, or erased.” Additionally, if a gun has ever been carried across state borders, they are not allowed to own one.

The federal Gun Control Act of 1968 established the first requirement for serial numbers to enable the tracking of firearms. They were implemented in order to stop the selling of illegal firearms.

The statute is prevented from taking effect by the Oct. 12 ruling by U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin in Charleston, West Virginia.

The ruling was made in a criminal case concerning Randy Price, an Ohio man, whose automobile was stopped during a traffic stop in Charleston with a gun that had had its serial number erased. He was accused of illegally owning a firearm without a serial number as well as illegally owning a firearm while a felon. Price had already been found guilty of aggravated robbery and involuntary manslaughter. Goodwin rejected the first accusation but upheld the second.

Price contended that it is illegal for a state to prohibit the ownership of firearms without a serial number, and he highlighted a significant decision made by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen in June of this year. According to the judgement, unless a limitation is “compatible with this Nation’s long record of firearm regulation,” the government cannot limit Americans’ constitutional right to carry guns in public for self-defense.

“A court may decide that the person’s behavior falls outside the Second Amendment’s ‘unqualified command’ only if a handgun control is compatible with this Nation’s historical history,” Thomas wrote.

The federal restriction on guns with missing serial numbers is not in line with the United States’ “historical tradition of firearm regulation,” according to Goodwin, a candidate of President Bill Clinton.

He pointed out that in 1791, the year the Second Amendment was passed, a gun without a serial number was not regarded as being more deadly than other guns. The serial numbers “emerged only with the onset of the mass manufacturing of guns,” he continued, placing them beyond the “historical tradition of firearm regulation.” At the time, he continued, “serial numbers were not necessary, or even in common usage.

No matter how vital or desirable a rule may be in today’s society, Goodwin concluded in his ruling that it must conform to the historical concept of the right in order to be upheld.

Guns Without Serial Numbers Used In Crime

He added, “While I acknowledge there is an assertion that firearms with an erased serial number are probably to be used in violent crime and therefore a ban against their ownership is preferable, that argument is exactly the kind of means-end rationale the Supreme Court has disallowed me from contemplating.

Since it is a “commercial regulation” and doesn’t violate Americans’ Second Amendment right to possess and bear firearms, the government claimed that federal prohibition is legal. Due to the fact that the legislation makes it illegal to possess guns without a serial number, irrespective of if they are sold or not, Goodwin came to the conclusion that the statute is not a business regulation.

The decision was described as “thoughtful, methodical, and accurate” by Price’s attorney, Lex Coleman. The case was being prosecuted by the Charleston office of U.S. Attorney William Thompson, and a representative for the office stated that it is “reviewing the judgment and analyzing possibilities.”This article appeared in Powerhouse News and has been published here with permission.

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