Judge Joseph Goodwin on Thursday struck down a federal law that bans guns lacking a serial number. According to Goodwin, the law is unconstitutional in light of the landmark Bruen decision.
“Because the Second Amendment was adopted in 1791, only those regulations that would have been considered constitutional then can be constitutional now,” Goodwin wrote in his opinion.
The judge indicated a ban on guns without serial numbers is unconstitutional because it doesn’t fit the “historical tradition of firearm regulation” following the Bruen decision.
The Bill Clinton-appointed judge indicated the law was constitutional before the Bruen decision came down.
“A firearm without a serial number in 1791 was certainly not considered dangerous or unusual compared to other firearms because serial numbers were not required or even commonly used at that time,” Goodwin wrote. “While I recognize there is an argument … that firearms with an obliterated serial number are likely to be used in violent crime and therefore a prohibition on their possession is desirable, that argument is the exact type of means-end reasoning the Supreme Court has forbidden me from considering.”
The Example Given
Goodwin used a practical example for coming to the conclusion that he did.
A man legally purchases a firearm from a gun store, strips the serial number, and never commits a crime with it. He eventually dies and passes the gun on to his law-abiding daughter. The daughter instantly becomes a criminal because the gun lacks a serial number, even though they were legally obtained.
“These scenarios make clear that Section 922(k) is far more than the mere commercial regulation the Government claims it to be,” he explained. “Rather, it is a blatant prohibition on possession. The conduct prohibited by Section 922(k) falls squarely within the Second Amendment’s plain text,” the judge wrote.
According to Goodwin, his decision is likely the first one related to guns lacking a serial number in a post-Bruen world.