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Ban on guns with serial numbers removed is unconstitutional, judge rules

Row of handguns. (US Coast Guard Academy/Released)
October 14, 2022

A federal law banning the “possession of a firearm with an altered, obliterated, or removed serial number” has been ruled unconstitutional.

In a ruling issued Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin said serial numbers can’t be required now because they didn’t even exist when the Second Amendment was adopted in 1791. The ban was not in keeping with the U.S.’ “historical tradition of firearm regulation,” a new requirement for gun regulations that was recently laid out in a landmark Supreme Court ruling, The Hill reported.

Under the Supreme Court’s new framework, any modern regulation that doesn’t line up with how people understood gun rights when they were established is unconstitutional “regardless of how desirable or important that regulation may be in our modern society,” Goodwin wrote.

Serial numbers have been legally required since 1968, according to U.S. News.

The U.S. attorney prosecuting the case is “reviewing the ruling and assessing options,” according to Reuters.

The new historical standard was part of a summer Supreme Court ruling that confirmed Americans’ right to publicly carry firearms for self-defense and immediately made restrictions in several states unconstitutional, as reported by the Associated Press.

Goodwin quoted another case to say that the Supreme Court had “transformed and left uncharted much of the legal landscape” with its decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. vs Bruen.

His ruling came in a case against a man named Randy Price, who was found with a pistol that had an “obliterated serial number” during a 2019 traffic stop, according to the ruling.

Due to previous felony convictions in Ohio, he was charged not only for the improper serial number, but also for being a felon in possession of a firearm. The court dismissed the first charge, but indicted Price on the second.