(Reuters) -A federal judge in West Virginia has ruled that a federal ban on possessing a gun with its serial number removed is unconstitutional, the first such ruling since the U.S. Supreme Court dramatically expanded gun rights in June.
U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin in Charleston on Wednesday found that the law was not consistent with the United States’ “historical tradition of firearm regulation,” the new standard laid out by the Supreme Court in its landmark ruling.
The decision came in a criminal case charging a man, Randy Price, with illegally possessing a gun with the serial number removed that was found in his car. The judge dismissed that charge, though Price is still charged with illegally possessing the gun after being convicted of previous felonies.
This is a good reminder of how government regulation creeps. At the time of the Constitution, guns didn’t have serial numbers. They may have had a manufacturer’s mark or distinguishing notation, but nothing uniform or specific. It wasn’t until 185 years later that the federal government mandated that manufactured or imported firearms had to have a serial number. The purpose was to make it easier for the government to track the sale and ownership of firearms.
Here we are 54 years later and we have government officials like Tony Evers and Mandela Barnes who want to mandate that everyone must get their background checked and approved to purchase a gun with a serial number. What do we end up with? A government that is keeping a list of who owns what guns. At least, they are keeping a list of people who did it legally. When the government keeps lists of people, it almost never ends well.
So I’m very glad to see that we are returning to something resembling Constitutional originalism – at least in small fits and spurts.