serial numbers

Serial Numbers Optional?

Are serial numbers on firearms now optional? Not yet, however, we happily write today to tell you about another 2A victory in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court Ruling in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen.  If you prefer to watch the video version of this article, please click here to go to our YouTube Channel.

A law that required serial numbers fond unconstitutional

The latest 2A victory came out of the United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia last week when a federal judge issued an order finding 18 U.S.C 922k, which prohibits the possession of a firearm with an altered, obliterated, or removed serial number, unconstitutional. 

The facts

Here is a quick rundown of the facts of the case.  On July 16, 2019, The Defendant, Randy Price was pulled over because his registration was improperly displayed. During the traffic stop, officers discovered a pistol which the serial number had been obliterated. Price was arrested and later indicted by a grand jury for possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number. He was also indicted for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon because he had previously been convicted of involuntary manslaughter and aggravated robbery.  After the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Bruen case was released, Price filed a motion to dismiss both counts of the indictment arguing that his conduct is protected by the Second Amendment and was unregulated in 1791.

The Ruling

On October 12, 2022, U.S. District Court Judge Joseph R. Goodwin, issued a 20 page order agreeing and disagreeing with Price’s argument.  In short, Judge Goodwin, applying the standard used in Bruen, determined that the law which prohibits the possession of a firearm with an altered, obliterated, or removed serial number is unconstitutional because it is not “consistent with the Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.” He focused his decision on the fact that from the ratification of the Second Amendment in 1791 up until the Crime Act of 1990 was enacted, it was legal to possess a firearm that had the importer’s or manufacturer’s serial number removed, obliterated, or altered. He also wrote in the opinion about how serial numbers were not broadly required for all firearms manufactured and imported in the United States until the passage of the Gun Control Act of 1968 and that even after the Gun Control Act of 1968 was enacted, it was only unlawful for a person to knowingly transport, ship, or receive, in interstate or foreign commerce, any firearm with the importer’s or manufacturer’s serial number removed, obliterated or altered. This restriction only dealt with firearms in the stream of commerce and made it unlawful for an individual to possess a firearm with a serial number removed, obliterated or altered.

The judge denied Price’s motion to dismiss the count of the indictment finding him in violation of 18 U.S.C 922(g)(1) which prohibits possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. In his order, Judge Goodwin wrote, “I am convinced that the Supreme Court left generally undisturbed the regulatory framework that keeps firearms out of the hands of dangerous felons through its decision in Bruen by reaffirming and adhering to the its reasoning in Heller and McDonald.” 

Can you remove serial numbers from your firearms?

So does this mean that Florida’s lawful gun owners can start removing the serial numbers from their firearms today? Absolutely not! The decisions of U.S. District courts are only binding within their jurisdiction and have no binding effect on other courts. Further, this decision may be appealed, however, as of today, October 18, 2022, the Government has not filed a Notice of Appeal. This is another step in the right direction of striking down many of the unconstitutional gun laws prevalent throughout the country.

Until next time, stay armed and educated.   

Read our other articles on unserialized firearms and ghost guns:

Ghost Guns

ATF Rule 2021R-05 – Ghost Guns

Nothing in the article above, nor anywhere on this website should be taken as legal advice. Each situation is different. Contact a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction for legal advice on your matter.

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