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Judge Voids Federal Law Banning Removal Of Gun Serial Numbers

A federal judge in West Virginia 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, Reuters reports. U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin in Charleston 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 ruling. The new decision came in a criminal case charging 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.

Price's lawyer, Lex Coleman, called the decision "thoughtful, measured and accurate." The federal law prohibits anyone from transporting a gun with the serial number removed across state lines, or from possessing such a gun if it has ever been transported across state lines. Serial numbers, first required by the federal Gun Control Act of 1968, are intended to prevent illegal gun sales and make it easier to solve crimes by allowing guns to be traced. Price argued that the law is unconstitutional in light of the Supreme Court's June 24 ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc v. Bruen. That ruling held that under the Second Amendment, the government cannot restrict the right to possess firearms unless the restriction is consistent with historical tradition. The Bruen case said serial numbers were not required when the Second Amendment was adopted in 1791, and were not widely used until 1968, putting them outside that tradition.


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