Dangerous Use of Serial Numbers Found Unconstitutional

GOA Files New Case Against New York's CCIA, iStock-697763642
Dangerous Use of Serial Numbers Found Unconstitutional, iStock-697763642

U.S.A.-(AmmoLand.com)-– The most dangerous use of a serial number on a firearm is as a registration number. In effect, gun registration is gun confiscation. It was not the intent for which serial numbers were made. They were created to track firearms with production changes and as a way for government arsenals to track the production and military use of weapons.

A federal court recently held a law passed in 1990, which makes possessing a firearm with a removed serial (registration) number illegal, is unconstitutional.

This is an important decision. It has relatively minor effects at this time. The law was a step toward universal firearms registration.

Finding the law unconstitutional subverts the push for government control over firearms.

Suppose a person cannot be punished for merely possessing a firearm from which a serial number has been removed. In that case, the entire scheme for government control over legally owned firearms falls apart.

There cannot be effective gun registration if a person cannot be punished for possessing a gun with the serial number removed.

The legal ability to possess firearms without serial numbers buttresses the deterrent effect of an armed population.

If government agents demand a person turn in a firearm that is registered to them, they can remain silent.

If the firearm appears at some later date, and the serial number has been removed, it becomes difficult to connect the firearm to the person it was registered to.

It becomes difficult to punish a person for an act someone else commits with a firearm originally purchased by them.

A unique serial number is a key to efforts to register and control firearms by the administrative state. Nelson T. “Pete” Shields of Handgun Control, inc. laid out the plan in 1976:

 “We’ll take one step at a time, and the first is necessarily – given the political realities – very modest.  We’ll have to start working again to strengthen the law, and then again to strengthen the next law and again and again.  Our ultimate goal, total control of handguns, is going to take time.  The first problem is to slow down production and sales. Next is to get registration.  The final problem is to make possession of all handguns and ammunition (with a few exceptions) totally illegal.”

When people may not be punished for possessing a firearm whose serial number has been removed, the plan falls apart.

Serial numbers were not required on most firearms, by the government, until 1968. They were required on National Firearms Act weapons as a means of registration of machine guns, short barreled rifles, short barreled shotguns, and silencers in 1938.

The registration of firearms is almost never used to solve violent crimes. The large costs of firearms registration make for a very large cost-to-benefit ratio.

The major purpose of gun registration is to enable the confiscation of firearms when the government desires to do so.

Serial numbers were first used on US military weapons in 1865. They were first used on Winchester rifles in 1866.

Serial numbers were first used as a tool of oppression in 1893.

Florida enacted a statute that required the recording of a repeating rifle’s serial number (later to include pistols) with the county commissioners in 1893.  While the act’s wording is somewhat ambiguous, the title makes plain the purpose was to regulate the carrying of firearms.

1893 Fla. Laws 71-72, An Act to Regulate the Carrying of Firearms, chap. 4147, §§ 1-4.

The history of the Florida law implies it was meant to apply to black people and not to white people.  The surety required ($100 in 1893, about $3,000 in 2020 dollars) immediately placed the permit beyond the capability of people with modest incomes. About fifty years later, a judge said the law was never meant to be used against white people, and he had never heard of a case where a white person was prosecuted under the 1893 law. From Watson v. Stone:

I know something of the history of this legislation. The original Act of 1893 was passed when there was a great influx of negro laborers in this State drawn here for the purpose of working in turpentine and lumber
camps. The same condition existed when the Act was amended in 1901 and the Act was passed for the purpose of disarming the negro laborers and to thereby reduce the unlawful homicides that were prevalent in turpentine and saw-mill camps and to give the white citizens in sparsely settled areas a better feeling of security. The statute was never intended to be applied to the white population and in practice has never been so applied. We have no statistics available, but it is a safe guess to assume that more than 80% of the white men living in the rural sections of Florida have violated this statute. It is also a safe guess to say that not more than 5% of the men in Florida who own pistols and repeating rifles have ever applied to the Board of County Commissioners for a permit to have the same in their possession and there has never been, within my knowledge, any effort to enforce the provisions of this statute as to white people, because it has been generally conceded to be in contravention to the Constitution and non-enforceable if contested.

It should be noted the serial number, as such, appears to have had little to do with the actual discriminatory enforcement of the law in Florida. It wasn’t until the infamous New York Sullivan law, recently found to be unconstitutional, that the use of serial numbers enforce disarmament became common..

The Sullivan law eventually tied a specific firearm to a specific person on a broad scale. Other states, particularly in the Northeast, followed suit. The state of New York, under the prodding of the organized crime boss, Big Tim Sullivan, pushed the registration of guns well ahead of most of Europe.

In Europe, the registration of firearms appears to be an artifact created after World War I. In Germany, the registration of firearms was installed after 1919 as part of the requirement of the Treaty of Versailles. England had no registration of firearms until the 1920 Firearms Act. Italy installed registration of firearms under Mussolini with the 1931 Public Safety Act. France installed general firearms registration from 1935 to 1939.

Most of these measures were touted as public safety measures.

In the case of England, research done by Joyce Lee Malcomb (US) and Chief Inspector Colin Greenwood (at Cambridge) showed fear of an armed population drove the legislation. The crime rate, at the time, was extraordinarily low. The purpose of the registration was to allow the government, in times of doubt, to disarm its perceived enemies and arm its perceived friends.  From Guns and Violence, the English Experience, page 162:

Second, the Firearms Act of 1920, which took away the traditional right of individuals to be armed, was not passed to reduce or prevent armed crime or gun accidents.  It was passed because the government was afraid of rebellion and keen to control access to guns.

Chief Inspector Colin Greenwood found the same result.

World War I caused immense turmoil in Europe. Along with many other problems, it may be rightly blamed for the rise of gun registration there.

Before the use of serial numbers, disarming of the population had to rely on brute force and physical searches for weapons.

In England, before the English Bill of Rights, in 1660, by the dubious method of royal proclamation, gunsmiths were once required to keep lists of people they sold firearms to.

Such lists were not the registration of firearms because they did not tie a particular gun to a particular individual.  The adoption of the English Bill of Rights in 1689 was partly in response to this sort of action.

The requirement to keep lists by royal declaration was “a device of uncertain legal status,” according to Malcolmb. The proclamation was issued in December of 1660.  From Malcolmb:

With this police apparatus in place, the King turned to the royal proclamation, a device of uncertain legal status, to tighten arms control. In September, 1660, he issued a proclamation forbidding footmen to wear swords or to carry other weapons in London.[87]

In December another proclamation expressed alarm that many “formerly cashiered Officers and Soldiers, and other dissolute and disaffected persons do daily resort to this City.”[88]

All such soldiers and others “that cannot give a good Account for their being here” were to leave London within two days and remain at least twenty miles away indefinitely.[89]

At the same time the royal government launched a campaign to control firearms at the source. Gunsmiths were ordered to produce a record of all weapons they had manufactured over the past six months together with a list of their purchasers.[90]

In future they were commanded to report every Saturday night to the ordnance office the number of guns made and sold that week.[91]

Carriers throughout the kingdom were required (p.300)to obtain a license if they wished to transport guns, and all importation of firearms was banned.[92]

It was less than a month later that King Charles II ordered a general disarmament of those considered his enemies:

The timing of the Fifth Monarchist uprising was especially opportune, for it occurred the very day the last regiments of the Commonwealth army were due to be disbanded. In response to this visible danger, these regiments were retained and twelve more companies were recruited to form the nucleus of a royalist army.[95] The militia and volunteers throughout the realm were ordered to carry out a general disarmament of everyone of doubtful loyalty.[96] By January 8, 1661, two days after the Venner uprising, Northamptonshire lieutenants reported that all men of known “evill Principles” had been disarmed and secured “so as we have not left them in any ways of power to attempt a breach of the peace.”[97]

Registration with serial numbers allows governments to circumvent the difficult and dangerous task of physically searching for firearms.

The government can simply demand the weapons tied by registration be turned in. If they are not available, various forms of coercion can be applied.  State agents need never approach a persons home.

Disarmament is seldom general. There are always exceptions for agents and friends of those in power. Hitler disarmed Jews and others he deemed “enemies of the state” using local registration lists. Dictators always make exceptions for those who they believe can be relied on to support them.

The firearms owners Protection Act, passed in 1986, prevents the establishment of a national firearms registry.  From congress.gov:

Amends the rulemaking authority of the Secretary to provide that no regulation may require: (1) the transfer of records required under this Act to a facility owned, managed, or controlled by the United
States or any State; or (2) the establishment of any system of registration of firearms, firearm owners, or firearm transactions.

While those who want a disarmed population can initiate house-to-house searches to disarm people, as was done by tyrants in the past, doing so in the United States, under the Constitution, is very difficult

Holding laws that make the possession of firearms that have the serial number removed illegally to be unconstitutional puts teeth in the current laws against gun registration.

It makes the disarmament of the people incrementally, over a long period of time, very difficult.

It is a significant part of restoring the limitations on government power required by the Constitution.


About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

Dean Weingarten

Subscribe
Notify of
70 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Arkansas Rob

Thank you, Dean. A very educational article.

Duane

The free market sale and trading of firearms.

Is a very strong check value against registration and confiscation.

When selling a firearm do so on the free market.

loveaduck

Now illegal in some states, including WA.

Tionico

Just be careful concerning who is your trading partner. Most county Sheriffs have declared they will not persue the enforcement of such laws on the face of things. I cannot cite the reference but I distinctly recall reading not long ago that, with a coupe exceptions (anyone knowing the political landscape in washington will know…) the ONLY time this law has been enforced was a case newr me where the cops had the dirt on a guy misusing guns, but not enough to put together a slid case. They DID have proof he had bought his weapon private party and… Read more »

USMC0351Grunt

Al Capone on Income Tax Evasion

Laddyboy

ILLEGAL IN the DemoKKKratic state of MD.

USMC0351Grunt

LAWSUIT, Checks and Balances against those oppressors of human rights. I can visualize those on the left that have been wanting the U.N. present in our cities and towns now cowering as the U.N. comes for THEM!

Last edited 13 days ago by USMC0351Grunt
swmft

this is one of the best court rulings yet!

swmft

a little more of the dirt under gca supports kicked out ,closer to pulling down house of cards they built
and every little bit helps US and our rights

Last edited 14 days ago by swmft
Tionico

Pain like this pleases me greatly. Let them squirm, scream, snivel. It looks REAL good on ’em

swmft

it is fun to see them red in the face, because they cant tell someone what to do

USMC0351Grunt

“If not now, when? If not us, Who?” “THEY” may have the house and senate, but WE have the backbone, fortitude, freedom and liberty to pursue knocking down those houses of cards. THAT is our battleground. THAT is our “civil war”. Let’s get after it!

Green Mtn. Boy

Newsflash for the Liberty challenged,Each and every gun control law is un Constitutional.

USMC0351Grunt

During the course of freeing the slaves from prison for “possessing a firearm with a scratched off or otherwise altered serial number”, THIS would be a good time to incrementally enter such unconstitutional laws into the lawsuits that will free these prisoners to get these laws repealed.

Last edited 13 days ago by USMC0351Grunt
UncleT

Great….now what? Will it stop? Will govt continue its unconstitutional actions? I’d bet yes. Who’s gonna stop them?,

Rodoeo

Exactly, they don’t give a rats behind about the constitution or laws either. They have all the money, time and legal representation in the world.

USMC0351Grunt

So do WE!

The other Jim

Exactly, Meritless Garland and FBI Christopher “Free Plane” Wray will go after the Un-named Federal Judge/Federal Court and their parents.

swmft

waiting for another kick from scotus that puts atf and fbi on shaky ground

USMC0351Grunt

THAT is the duty of WE, The People. And the time is NOW!

musicman44mag

Great job Dean, I had no idea gun registration had such a history. Amazing how in the end it was all used to disarm people. I don’t know if I like the information because it tells me that gun registration is there to take my guns and also tells the left it has been and can or will be done again. Obiden wants our AR pattern rifles to be illegal but to what extent is not clear yet. The way he pals up to Justin Trudeau of Canada concerns me and like the king charles II, he has already made… Read more »

Tionico

I’d reduce that time frame to about forty years. When I moved to become a near neighbour to Oregon it was 1980. Needed a rimfire rifle to deal with four legged predators, hopped into my car, drove ACROSS the state line bridge into Delta Park, found a GI Joes there, walked in found the gun counter. They had a Ruger 10/.22 in rack by itself with a SALE tag hanging on it. I asked to see it, he put it into my hands, I liked it and said I’ll take this one and laid it down on the counter.. He… Read more »

Laddyboy

Used to do that in Western Auto here in MD., as well as ammo. NO MORE!!

musicman44mag

Ahh. The good ole days. I don’t think we will ever see that again unless there is a war over guns specifically and the losers learn that they will no longer control guns or the losers learn that their guns will be controlled. If obiden uses military weapons as he said he would, our guns may only be a memory later in life. I will never see that day.

USMC0351Grunt

You’re supposed to pick up the ones THEY DROP!

USMC0351Grunt

Back in the day, post WW I, people used to order revolvers, pistols, rifles and shotguns and ammo through the Sears & Roebuck catalog and have them delivered right to our homes in the once FREE nation known as America.

Oldman

Of all the weapons my wife and I own, and there are MANY,….. only six can be traced back to us, and we are sad sacks that live here in the communist province of WA. state.

swmft

the funny thing many government contracts had duplicate numbers, I have 2 1911s with same number and have seen a m1grand with same range of serial number as one of mine mine from different maker, so numbers were just by contract not really much else

USMC0351Grunt

LOT numbers to trace backwards if metal processing has gone awry or springs or parts of certain batches didn’t meet spec or had systematic failures in the manufacturing processing.

USMC0351Grunt

Daydream a little…. These 87,000 new IRS agents just might be ramping up to go after ALL the elected and appointed officials that have been oppressing the citizens and causing all of these unconstitutional laws to come to life by way of the very tax dollars of those they oppressed? I believe it is called Indentured Servitude. Wholly illegal and I believe a felony?

Last edited 13 days ago by USMC0351Grunt
Engineer

Great article Dean. Please write and article about how a firearm used in a crime is now traced by the ATF to the FFL to the original purchaser. They tell us there is no registry but if that is true, how do they trace a firearm so quickly. Also, who is verifying that the NICS data is destroyed by the FBI, that the ATF does not have a registry, etc. When the fox is in the hen house, the last thing we need is for the fox to tell us all is well. Thanks for all you do.

Tionico

The train of data is short and simple, and does not constitute a “registry”. Manufcturer has number, records indicate which wholesaler was original consignee. Wholesaler then has record of retail FFL store. FFL has Bound Book, or Record of Transactions showing first retail purchaser. Then the trail goes dead, because there is no requirement subsequent sales by that original purchaser be recorded AND tied to the first retail sale. A gun can sit in Charlie’s safe for ten years, then he sells it on gunBroker, triggering another FFL transfer…. but there is no direct pathway between original purchaser and the… Read more »

Matt in Oklahoma

My Bible ain’t serial numbered. Neither are any of my other rights.
You might not get your stolen gun back though. Might need to mark it to show it is yours but don’t share openly.

Tionico

Know your own numbers, and if one of yours goes missing report that fact along with its magickal number Then IF it is found, they can return it to you.

Oldman

Fat chance of ever getting it back. They would just say it was never found and ‘they’ would just remove the #’s and sell it on the black market. My wife and I know….we’ve been there. And if we hadn’t reported it stolen and it was used in a crime for which we could prove beyond a shadow of a doubt we were innocent of said crime,in Wa. state, we would have been guilty of a felony.

swmft

put a number (the same one) on all your guns kind of a password

Bubba

Nicely done article.
Puts some good information out about how easy it is for Government to seize your property when they deem you to be Loyal to the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

swmft

you mean an oath keeper….(tongue in cheek)

Last edited 13 days ago by swmft
TStheDeplorable

I wouldn’t grind off the serial numbers just yet. I think the Supreme Court is going to now spend the next date allowing a lot of regulations by declaring them not to be “infringements.” I think they’ll allow laws requiring serial numbers, permits to carry in public, and bans on certain ammunition. I don’t believe the founders would agree that such laws are constitutional, but the Supreme Court is going to be in compromise mode after last term’s decisions on guns and abortion which have been labeled “radical” by the Washington DC dinner circuit crowd. At the end of the… Read more »

musicman44mag

and if it doesn’t turn out that way, they will stack the court so it will.

swmft

which will lead to revolt

CivilWar Historian

Actually sir, you are incorrect. Not that it matters much, but US Military Firearms were serial numbered long before the outbreak of the Civil War.

USMC0351Grunt
swmft

Springfield armory started with serial numbers from get go but not on all production weapons, Massachusetts and some other states had them weapons made for national government did not and does not appear numbering was more than a count for delivery

masterlifter

Thank You for this article. I liked the comment in the 1976 statement about Our ultimate goal, total control of handguns”.

OlTrailDog

Just imagine the fun when you will have a digital serial number for your very own.

musicman44mag

from what I hear if you got the shot, you already have the precursor marker. So if that’s true those of us that don’t show in our blood that we complied are going to be uncle joes enemy of Merica.

OlTrailDog

Absolutely the gospel truth. Now every time I pass by an RF scanner the blinking lights flash and warning sirens sound…wooga, wooga. However, I discover if I don a tin foil hat and wear tin foil boxer shorts I become invisible.

OlTrailDog

I know I’m taking the occasion to poke fun. However, in all seriousness, I believe much of the vaccine horror show was both unconstitutional as well as extremely destructive to overall health, businesses, kids, and general welfare of societies across the globe. Personally, I was part of the earliest cycle of ignorant vaxombies, but after the Great Barrington Declaration, I was done with it. Subsequently, I intently followed the vaccine treatments, mask effectiveness, how the local health care system kow towed to the Obamacare authoritarians, and devised a personal plan to use the therapeutics that offered promise. I can’t go… Read more »

swmft

there were towns that blew a gasket in florida, had a police officer tell me I had to have a test ,no tests no shots took care of four people who got sick and only one tested positive for covid paid for flu test for one and it was positive doctors would not give flu test everything was covid even when it was not, how many died of flu being treated for covid

Last edited 13 days ago by swmft
USMC0351Grunt

Now you just need to watch the 2011 movie, CONTAGION. Then come back and give us your critique?

OlTrailDog

I’ll try to get around to that after watching movies with king kong climbing the empire state building; Godzilla; meteors hitting the earth; climate enduced tidal waves and frozen landscape movies; zombies prowling to and fro; big footed yetis; and other such great documentaries based on pure science. 😉

Oldman

‘Mark of the Beast’?

Tionico

some posit this but when you read the original text descriing that mark, this injection can in no way match the description Jesus gave when He described that mark. Besides, that mark and its use, precisely as He described multiple times, was already put into effect and use exactly as He described, and in the time frame (long since passed) He also clearly laid out.

concise answer: this injection is not and cannot be “the Mark of the Beast”.
Not to say it can’t be used in ways similar to how Caesar Nero used it…. but it IS not that.

Oldman

So you are saying that the Mark that Jesus described has already happened and will not happen again?

musicman44mag

Yep, that is one of the reasons I didn’t buy in. So many complications now with people that took the shot and now obiden is talking about the next wave. As I thought before, one shot leads to another shot and to another and then you find there is not cure for what you have. I will suffer either with covid if I catch it or I will be one of the survivors because I didn’t take it.

USMC0351Grunt

I’m STILL looking and NOT finding all those people that died because they DID NOT take the shot???

Oldvet

Grunt … look on the democratic voter rolls

Oldvet

mm44 … No telling what they may end up with because they took the shot !

musicman44mag

I wonder if its part of the depopulation plan. After you reach the full series then all we need is the last bug to complete the process and you are toast. I think that Russia is going to be the ones to use it on Ukraine and it will spread around the world from there. Sick thoughts but totally warranted in today’s scheme and plan of the NWO.

Oldvet

mm44…Afraid you may be right .

USMC0351Grunt

Well? We have the European Union, https://anamericanunion.com/ LOOKS harmless but underlying works are toward, and they are working on the American Union. Based on the ignorance and stupidity of the average sheep in this country, THIS is attainable. Especially if we have over 512 genders of dumb asses?

KK

Well, they found a way around this “registration” dilemma.
NY got a 4% compliance rate for registering “assault weapons” back in 2013 with their NY SAFE Act.
NY just passed a LAW THAT REQUIRES YOU TO GET A LICENSE TO ACQUIRE A SEMI-AUTO FIREARM! (Because everyone knows that a registered firearm can not be used to harm anyone)
REGISTRY ACCOMPLISHED!!!
Going forward they will be building the requisite database to facilitate CONFISCATION!

Last edited 13 days ago by KK
USMC0351Grunt

Not if WE, The People in the 2nd Amendment arena step up and fight this!

buzzsaw

So, when does the run on Dremels start?

Tionico

No matter. When Home Depot sell their last Dremel, they will still have flat files They work just as well. Takes more time, but probably will make a cleaner job of it.

Larryd

I’m curious about what Federal court made this decision, what Case it was X vs Y, and if it is being appealed. The history here is great, but the specifics on the ruling need more explanation.

USMC0351Grunt

So? This means that WE in the 2nd Amendment community, perhaps along with The Innocence Project are going to team up and repatriate all those that have suffered heavily in prisons for doing absolutely nothing wrong? AND file the many tort actions along with other suits against those many oppressors and agencies that forced their tyranny onto these soon to be once again free citizens of the United States?

Last edited 13 days ago by USMC0351Grunt