Ghost guns – are serial numbers on firearms illegal?
In a surprising ruling in early October, a US District Court Judge ruled that the use of serial numbers on firearms was illegal, as they were not required/existent at the time of the ratification of the Constitution of the United States in 1791.
Judge Joseph Goodwin, a Clinton appointee, stated that with the most recent ruling by the Supreme Court, with the opinion given by Clarence Thomas, New York’s gun laws were intentionally prohibiting citizens from carrying a firearm for personal self-defense, based on needing to prove the need. Using the intent of the Constitution, any gun law that is passed must pass scrutiny. And the states must be able to prove that there is a historical need for the law.
What if your dad removed the serial number on his gun and you inherited it?
The test Judge Goodwin applied was that if a father destroyed the serial number of a firearm and then passes it down to a child upon death, technically the possession of the firearm by either would be considered a Federal Crime, even if the daughter possessed it only momentarily after the fathers will and testament were adhered to.
This could also in my mind be applied to non-serialized firearms, such as “ghost guns”. The current argument for the use of serial numbers is that they help police to identify the owner of the firearm AFTER a crime is committed but doesn’t prevent the crime from happening in the first place.
Serial numbers were not enforced until 1934
A counterargument to that would be that historically serial numbers were used to tie a firearm to a person, thus creating a firearms registry, which then lead to confiscation, which usually came before the genocide. It was also not a common occurrence to have serial numbers until around the Civil War and was not enforced by the Federal Government until 1934.
What is not talked about is that this judge likely did this to challenge the reasoning behind the repeal of the Supreme Court ban. By stating that his ruling was directly due to Clarence Thomas, he is negating responsibility for his own ruling, and he is hoping that this will lead to an uptick in crime, and thus cause more pain for the Supreme Court’s ruling.
A serial number won’t prevent a crime
However, I think that this ruling might prove the opposite, as really a serial number won’t prevent a crime, and guns are readily available despite gun laws. Similar to when a judge in California struck down the magazine capacity a few years back creating a “Freedom Week”, it was told to everyone that there would be a massive increase in crime …. which never happened (specifically for AR/AK style rifles, crime in CA has gone up because of continued bad laws, insufficient policing and inability to protect oneself).
So, what’s going to happen? Truthfully, I don’t know but I would not recommend breaking out the file/Dremel tool just yet. I would investigate trying your hand at some 80% lowers and making your own because just because registration is illegal doesn’t mean there isn’t one already out there. Like I have always said, I support all the Amendments and encourage their use and practice daily because without it they die.
We know that the erosion of 2nd amendment rights is an issue of foremost importance. And as our inalienable rights are concerned we all need to be able to protect ourselves, and for a lot of us, that means a comfortable holster that allows daily conceal carry.
Author: Ian Bolser