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United States v. Price


Defending the federal prohibition on possessing firearms with obliterated serial numbers.

Court: Fourth Circuit

Issue at Stake: Safety features

Summary: United States v. Price is a Second Amendment challenge to the federal law that prohibits possessing a firearm with an obliterated serial number. The United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia granted Price’s motion to dismiss the part of his indictment charging him with violating that prohibition.

Everytown for Gun Safety filed an amicus brief in the Fourth Circuit, urging the court to reverse the district court’s judgment. The brief explains that the plaintiffs have failed to establish that possessing an unserialized gun is protected under the Second Amendment, and offers insight into three methodological issues should the court address the historical step of the New York State Rifle & Pistol Ass’n v. Bruen analysis. First, Everytown argues that the court should center its historical analysis on 1868 as opposed to 1791, and should also consider earlier and later laws. Second, the brief urges the court against dismissing the state’s historical analogues as outliers, because even a small number of laws can be sufficient to establish a tradition of firearm regulation under Bruen. Finally, the brief suggests that the court should approach history with nuance—conditions warranting the regulation of firearms with obliterated serial numbers did not exist until the 20th century, and thus the absence of similar regulations in earlier periods provides no evidence that they were thought to be unconstitutional.

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