A helpful reader sent me this morning an interesting new federal district court opinion concerning Second Amendment limits on a couple of federal criminal laws. Here is how the opinion in US v. Price, No. 2:22-cr-00097 (SD WV Oct. 12, 2022) (available here), gets started:
The question before the court is whether 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1), which prohibits felons from possessing firearms, and 18 U.S.C. § 922(k), which prohibits possession of a firearm with an altered, obliterated, or removed serial number, are constitutional after the Supreme Court’s recent decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Ass’n v. Bruen, 142 S. Ct. 2111 (2022). After considering the arguments presented here, I find that Section 922(g)(1) is constitutional, but I find that Section 922(k) is not. For the following reasons, Mr. Price’s motion to dismiss the indictment against him is GRANTED as to Count Two and DENIED as to Count One.
Based on my first quick read of this opinion, I am not sure I am wholly convinced by the analysis driving either part of the ruling. But I am neither a Second Amendment expert nor a historian, so what do I know about such matter (other than Bruen continues to provide a basis for a lot of new arguments against a lot of federal criminal laws).
Of course, the rejection of a Bruen-based attacks on felon-in-possession prohibition is already become quite common. As the Price opinion notes “Relying on the same [‘law-abiding’] dicta in the wake of Bruen, at least nine federal district courts have rejected constitutional challenges to Section 922(g)(1).” What still seems notable here is that the author of this opinion, District Judge Joseph Goodwin, reads Bruen to require him to strike down another part of 18 U.S.C. § 922 while making this point: “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.” Price, Slip op. at 14.