Federal judge says gun serial number law is unconstitutional

President Joe Biden has touted his support for imposing additional gun restrictions. However, a recent court decision may make that harder to do.

According to Reuters, a federal judge ruled last week that a ban on the removal of a gun’s serial number is unconstitutional. 

Judge says serial number law doesn’t fit “historical tradition of firearm regulation”

Under current federal law, “No person shall knowingly transport, ship, or receive in interstate or foreign commerce any firearm which has had the importer’s or manufacturer’s serial number removed, obliterated, or altered, or possess or receive any firearm which has had the importer’s or manufacturer’s serial number removed, obliterated, or altered and has, at any time, been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce.”

Yet U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin said in his ruling last Wednesday that this prohibition runs afoul of the Second Amendment.

That decision arose from a case involving Randy Price, a man who had been caught with a gun whose serial number had been removed.

The judge dismissed the serial number charge against Price while allowing another charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm to stand.

Goodwin pointed to a new standard for evaluating the constitutionality of gun restrictions which the Supreme Court put earlier this year in New York State Rifle & Pistol Assn., Inc. v. Bruen.

In that case, the Supreme Court found New York’s requirement that those applying for a concealed weapons permit must show they have some special need to carry a gun was unconstitutional.

Serial numbers only became mandatory in 1968

What’s more, the Court also found that any gun law must fit with America’s “historical tradition of firearm regulation,” a standard that Goodwin said the serial number rule does not meet.

He pointed to how there was no requirement for weapons to carry serial numbers when the Constitution was ratified and that they only became mandatory in 1968.

Lex Coleman is Price’s attorney, and Reuters noted that he welcomed Goodwin’s decision, calling it “thoughtful, measured and accurate.”

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for U.S. Attorney William Thompson said his office is “reviewing the ruling and assessing options.”