Hunter Biden pleads not guilty to federal gun charges

Today was the big day for Hunter Biden and his team of high-priced attorneys. He showed up in court in Delaware where he entered a not guilty plea on three charges involving lying on a gun permit application about his drug addiction issues. 

Given how many times Hunter has inadvertently admitted to being a crack addict and the fact that prosecutors have the form where he claimed to be clean and sober, you might think that this should be a slam dunk for the state. 

But as it turns out, he may still slip the noose yet again, and it’s not because of any additional interference on his behalf by the Justice Department. His attorneys have built what looks like a potentially promising case claiming that the law Hunter was charged under is unconstitutional. And they have some precedent, including prior cases that have come before appellate courts and even the Supreme Court.  

From Associated Press:

Hunter Biden pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to three federal firearms charges filed after a plea deal imploded, putting the case on track toward a possible trial as the 2024 election looms…

President Joe Biden’s son faces charges that he lied about his drug use in October 2018 on a form to buy a gun that he kept for about 11 days.

He’s acknowledged struggling with an addiction to crack cocaine during that period, but his lawyers have said he didn’t break the law. Gun charges like these are rare, and an appeals court has found the ban on drug users having guns violates the Second Amendment under new Supreme Court standards.

The Associated Press gamely goes to bat for the First Son by saying that charges like the ones facing Hunter “are rare.” That’s not entirely true, of course, because “rare is a relative term. 

It is true, however, that the number of prosecutions for lying on Form 4473 is quite small compared to the total number of firearms purchases that take place each year in the country. For example, in 2019 (the year Hunter bought his handgun) there were just 478 referrals to federal prosecutors for this crime across the country, of which 298 were filed for prosecution.

Yet a prosecution doesn’t automatically lead to a conviction, and recent court developments may work in the younger Biden’s favor. 

The Delaware law Hunter is charged with violating could carry as much as a 25-year sentence if he’s convicted, though a first offender generally won’t get that long of a stretch. But his attorneys will point to the recent case of Patrick D. Daniels of Mississippi. 

Daniels' conviction involving a basically identical law was tossed out on appeal. The court cited the Supreme Court’s ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, saying that laws like this lack “strong historical roots” and it is not constitutional to disarm a citizen “based exclusively on his past drug usage.” His chief lawyer, Abbe Lowell said that he plans to file a motion to dismiss the case on those grounds.

But that may or may not be enough to convince the court. You will note that the Bruen decision and the appeals court in Mississippi specifically said that the law “does not justify disarming a sober citizen based exclusively on his past drug usage.” (Emphasis added.) But was Hunter’s drug usage “past” when he filled out the permit application in 2018? According to his memoir, Hunter was still addicted to crack when Jill Biden staged an intervention with some drug rehab counselors in Delaware. That took place when Joe Biden was “on the cusp of announcing his candidacy for the presidency.”

Joe Biden didn’t declare his candidacy until April 25, 2019. So it sounds as if Hunter was definitely still a crackhead when he filled out that form. The more I read through the details, the less sure I am that his lawyers may be able to get this thrown out. But if they do, it will be somewhat ironic that Hunter Biden could be saved by a Supreme Court ruling that was hailed by conservatives as a fabulous development.

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post