Ownership of Firearms without Serial Numbers Case Appealed

GOA Files New Case Against New York's CCIA, iStock-697763642
GOA Files New Case Against New York’s CCIA, iStock-697763642

U.S.A.-(AmmoLand.com)- The ground-breaking case of USA v. Randy Price has been appealed to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. The notice of appeal was filed on October 24, 2022. The appointment of a federal public defender was made on October 26, 2022.

The Fourth Circuit appointed the Federal Defender for the Southern District of West Virginia to represent Randy Price in this case.

Presumably, this is the same attorney who represented Price in the District Court, Wesley P. Page, Federal Public Defender s/Lex  A Coleman, WV Bar No. 10484.

The case was discussed in a previous article on AmmoLand.

The potential for strengthening Second Amendment Protections, in this case, are notable and important. This case has a few implications for criminal action in the United States.

The law found unconstitutional in this case, 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(k), was not formed until 1990. It is late law, constitutionally, and has no significant historical precedence.

The suspect in this case, Randy Price, may not be the person most sympathetic. Price is a convicted felon. He is prohibited from possessing firearms, by federal law.

The District Judge, Joseph R. Goodwin, found the arguments to declare the law prohibiting possession of a firearms whose serial number had been removed, to be unconstitutional, and persuasive, given the guidance of the Bruen decision on the Second Amendment by the Supreme Court.

Judge Goodwin found the prohibition of a felon possessing firearms to be constitutional under the Bruen decision.

Under this decision, a felon is barred from legally possessing firearms under federal law.

People who may legally possess a firearm may not be prosecuted for possessing a firearm that has had the serial number altered or removed.

Federal law forbids the creation of a federal registration system.

No such rule or regulation prescribed after the date of the enactment of the Firearms Owners’ Protection Act may require that records required to be maintained under this chapter or any portion of the contents of such records, be recorded at or transferred to a facility owned, managed, or controlled by the United States or any State or any political subdivision thereof, nor that any system of registration of firearms, firearms owners, or firearms transactions or dispositions be established. Nothing in this section expands or restricts the Secretary’s [Attorney General’s] authority to inquire into the disposition of any firearm in the course of a criminal investigation.

Eight states forbid state level registration systems.

State registration systems are constitutional latecomers.

If the decision showing 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(k) is upheld. The ability of state and federal governments to use registration systems as a means of disarming the public, will be rendered toothless.

The reason universal gun registration is so dangerous that it is forbidden in federal law, is gun registration is gun confiscation, without the general pain and expense of door-to-door searches and confiscations required before registration systems were conceived.

If there is a general gun registration scheme in existence, such as exists in Australia and many European countries, all legal guns must be registered; any gun not registered is illegal.

When a government decides to confiscate, whether individually or wholesale, it need only demand the guns which are registered be turned in on pain of punishment. Punishment in a modern state can consist of anything from cancellation of drivers licenses, freezing of bank accounts to turning off power and water services. This is much easier and less dangerous than house-to-house searches.

This becomes moot without serial numbers to connect an individual to an individual gun.

The United States has done well without a general registration system. Registration systems have virtually no effect on violent crime. They cost considerable police resources. They primarily victimize law abiding gun owners. Many such schemes attempt to pass most of the costs of the system to those who choose to exercise the right protected by the Second Amendment. Those costs, by their nature, suppress the legitimate use of Second Amendment rights.

It will be interesting to see if deep thinkers and Second Amendment strategists will be filing Amicus briefs in favor of upholding Judge Goodwin’s decision.

Attorneys from the NRA, SAF, GOA, Calguns, and other state groups, should all be looking at this case closely.

If law-abiding people cannot be prosecuted for possessing a firearm from which the serial number has been removed, the entire scheme of national gun registration falls apart.


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

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Arny

Is it not your property once you purchase the firearm ? So removing a serial number should be mute. It’s only affect should be toward the warranty provided with the firearm, if it has one.

DIYinSTL

The most recent bump stock case denied cert by the SCOTUS essentially rules that you don’t own personal property and the government through laws or even regulations can take whatever they want. One more bump stock case to go so there is a slim chance that this is the one SCOTUS is waiting to hear.

Rob J

Washington just passed a mandatory serialization law over the summer. It will be illegal to possess any firearm without a serial number (RCW 9.41.326 https://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=9.41&full=true#9.41.326 ) after March 10, 2023. There is an accompanying law that makes it illegal to alter or remove any serial number or makers ID, except in the case of barrel replacement where the new barrel doesn’t contain original markings. It still includes, in word only as it has now been gutted, an exception that removal of markings does not otherwise make the firearm illegal. Simple possession of an “altered” firearm is presumed guilt that the… Read more »

CourageousLion

“thus enabling the citizens of said states to once again engage on the historical tradition of building a firearm at home for personal means.” Why? Do you think that history and tradition didn’t allow someone who built a firearm to actually gift it or sell it to someone without any government interference? If so, at what time during the countries beginning was it that way? And if someone builds firearms today and sells them, who is damaged by the activity? Telling someone they have to pay for a license to manufacture a firearm is a direct violation of SHALL NOT… Read more »

Last edited 11 days ago by CourageousLion
Sisu

Dean, Your third to last paragraph: “It will be interesting to see …”, should bear a footnote: “We will now learn which ‘advocacy group’ truly understands the words “… shall not be infringed.” Unfortunately, my guess is more than one group will offer appeasement and rationalizations for why serial numbers are necessary. … Here’s one I anticipate: “Vehicles have a lot of manufacturing numbers on parts and the finished products. They are integral to protecting the consumer and public at large, by facilitating product recalls. … And, if a vehicle is stolen, those numbers allow the vehicle when found to… Read more »

Laddyboy

Serial numbers on a “gun” ONLY SHOWS who ORIGINALLY PURCHASED the gun from a FFL legal seller. The serial number does NOT who who the WANTON CRIMINAL is who uses a gun INAPPROPRIATELY in Our Society!!
OH! By the way; Maryland State Police HAVE A REGISTRY of “controlled” guns in the DemoKKKratically controlled State of Maryland. I thought “governmental registries of guns WAS and IS ILLEGAL!!!!!”

Ope

I still have several firearms I purchased in the early ‘70’s before any type of background checks. No such thing as 4473’s back in the day. Plus, I also have six firearms purchased from private sales/trades. Serial #’s mean nothing.

DDS

Form 4473 came about as a requirement of the 1968 Gun Control Act. So late 60’s vs early 70’s. Other than that small quibble, you’re spot on. A distinction that has often left out of this discussion is between guns that never had a serial number vs guns which have had the serial number removed or defaced. The first group is completely legal. The second group has always been a little bit iffy. A case in point would be a firearm that has been refinished and someone got a little over zealous with a buffer and defaced a serial number… Read more »

CourageousLion

“Federal law forbids the creation of a federal registration system.”
The Constitution forbids ANY gun control.

Batch

Oregon Resident here. As of yesterday: Background check log is up to 17,000 . It seems like for every 1,000 that are cleared, about 1,200 take its place. If y you have a CHL, you get bumped up to the front of the line (~2-3k). Some people without a CHL are getting instant approval. Others with a CHL have weeks as an estimate. No understanding by anyone as to why. The OSP website for entering background check information by the stores is no longer working during the day due to the volume. Yes, stores cannot even start the transfer process.… Read more »

BigJim

FOID in ill-annoy has been un-founded.

CourageousLion

Judge Goodwin found the prohibition of a felon possessing firearms to be constitutional under the Bruen decision. Well that isn’t grounded in history or tradition either. Up until 1968 a “felon” couldn’t possess a firearm WHILE INCARCERATED. Upon release, if he was captured and had a firearm in his possession while convicted and incarcerated and it was in his personal possessions, when he was RELEASED the firearm was returned to him. That’s because he was supposed to have been rehabilitated and was considered safe to let back out into open society. The problem I have with an OBLITERATED serial number,… Read more »

Last edited 11 days ago by CourageousLion