AR-15s. Banana clips. Serial numbers. Many things we associate with gun ownership simply weren’t a thing back in 1791. As times change, norms and the need to regulate killing tools adapt to circumstances that arise. But the law is the law. Last term, SCOTUS let judges know that no law, even the ones that have been on the books for over a century, should be able to get past the strict scrutiny of imagined Founding Fathers. This edict will likely have a disastrous effect on gun possession and illegal gun markets if this recent decision on gun serial numbers is a predictor of things to come.
A federal judge blocked a federal law on Wednesday that prohibits the possession of a firearm with an “altered, obliterated or removed” serial number in light of the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling expanding gun rights earlier this year.
U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin ruled that no historical standard exists to demonstrate that firearms without a serial number are more dangerous or unusual than firearms with a serial number, so the law is unconstitutional.
He said in his ruling that he is abiding by the Supreme Court’s June decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen…Goodwin said in his ruling that a firearm without a serial number, in 1791, was not considered more dangerous or unusual than other firearms because serial numbers were not commonly used at the time.
This decision, unsurprisingly, is a shock to many. And, of course, by this I mean a shock to me. I have not, nor intend to do the interviews or the quantitative analysis required to arrive at a data driven justification for my claim of “many,” but hey, it reads as a lot more authoritative that way. However, I did do enough searching about the internet to discover that I am not alone in my dissatisfaction with it.
Flush toilets notwithstanding, this is a shitty situation indeed. The main reasons serial numbers are on guns are so that it is easier to prevent illegal gun sales and to solve crimes.
You’d think that folks would realize that this is a clear set up for social harms, but no. Making it easier to sell guns on the black market is a no brainer if it can get cloaked in language about MuH LiBerTy, which is why this person was able to predict this happening seven months ago:
Since the Bruen decision, the NRA’s beaming optimism about gun ownership being an absolute right has only been matched by the helpless terror in the pit of parents’ stomachs when they send their pride and joy to elementary school. And some NRA employee is grinning ear to ear right now.
Chris Williams became a social media manager and assistant editor for Above the Law in June 2021. Prior to joining the staff, he moonlighted as a minor Memelord™ in the Facebook group Law School Memes for Edgy T14s. He endured Missouri long enough to graduate from Washington University in St. Louis School of Law. He is a former boatbuilder who cannot swim, a published author on critical race theory, philosophy, and humor, and has a love for cycling that occasionally annoys his peers. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and by tweet at @WritesForRent.