Yesterday, the Superior Court issued its decision in Commonwealth v. Ford, 196 ED 2016, in relation to whether natural corrosion (i.e. rust) over a firearm serial number constitutes a violation of Pennsylvania’s Uniform Firearms Act for purposes of possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number.
Section 6110.2 provides in pertinent part:
No person shall possess a firearm which has had the manufacturer’s number integral to the frame or receiver altered, changed, removed or obliterated. 18 Pa.C.S. § 6110.2(a).
It is important to note that even though the parties stipulated that “serial number on the handgun was obscured by corrosion [and] recovered by polishing,” Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Carolyn Nichols (the same Judge Nichols who just ran for and was elected to the Superior Court) found Mr. Ford guilty for possessing a firearm with an obliterated serial number.
Accordingly, the Superior Court framed the question before it as:
whether corrosion of manufacturer’s numbers renders them “altered, changed, removed or obliterated” within the meaning of section 6110.2.
After the court correctly noted that the phrase “altered, changed, removed or obliterated” was not defined, it turned to the ordinary dictionary definitions of these terms. After reviewing the definitions, the court held that:
section 6110.2 does not say that a crime takes place when a person possesses a gun whose markings have become illegible due to natural causes.
As a result, Mr. Ford’s conviction for possession of a firearm with obliterated markings was overturned.
If you or someone you know has been charged with possessing a firearm with an obliterated serial number, contact us today to discuss your options!