A West Virginia federal judge has declared invalid a part of a federal law prohibiting the possession of firearms with “altered, obliterated or removed serial numbers”. Citing the Supreme Court’s recent decision, which requires a historical review to determine the constitutionality of gun laws,
Judge Joseph Goodwin stated Wednesday that firearms without serial numbers are as bearable as firearms with serial numbers. However, he said that guns with missing serial numbers “are likely” to be used for violent crime.
This court’s latest decision reflects how far-reaching the Supreme Court has made it possible to challenge federal, state, and local gun control laws across the country.
In an opinion by Justice Clarence Thomas this summer, the Supreme Court stated that gun regulation must be justified by showing that it is consistent with the Nation’s historic tradition of firearm regulation.
Goodwin, a Clinton nominee, stated that the provision in question would be permitted before the Supreme Court ruled on New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen last Summer. Goodwin stated that Thomas and Bruen’s new test altered the game.
Goodwin wrote Wednesday that “any modern regulation that is not consistent with the historical understandings of the right shall be deemed unconstitutional,”
In 1791, the Second Amendment was also adopted with the rest of the Bill of Rights.
Goodwin wrote that a firearm without a serial number was not dangerous or unusual in 1791, because serial numbers weren’t required or used often at that time.
“While I acknowledge that firearms with an obliterated serial number are more likely to be used for violent crime, a prohibition on their possession would be desirable, this argument is exactly the type of means-end reasoning that the Supreme Court has prohibited me from considering.”
The Ohio man Randy Price had been convicted of aggravated robbery and involuntary murder. Wednesday’s ruling was partial. Goodwin upheld federal rules that prohibit felons from possessing firearms.
Federal judges in at most a dozen different cases have cited the Bruen ruling to strike down gun restrictions, including local assault weapon bans, prohibitions on making homemade firearms, and bans on older teens carrying handguns publically.
Goodwin stated that he believes his court is the first to decide on the issue of serial numbers.
Many other laws are now facing new legal challenges due to the precedent. These include zoning restrictions that prohibit shooting ranges, licensing laws, and federal prohibitions on misdemeanor offenders possessing firearms.