On June 2, President Joe Biden gave a speech in which he demanded that Congress enact a gun ban and other severe gun control measures that he has supported throughout his political career. Among the policies Biden listed was the criminalization of private firearm transfers – sometimes inaccurately termed “universal background checks.” Biden commanded, “We should expand background checks to be — keep guns out of the hands of felons, fugitives, and those under restraining orders.”
Biden doesn’t have any actual interest in keeping guns away from those prohibited from possessing them.
First, we know this because of a 2013 meeting between NRA-ILA Director of Federal Affairs Jim Baker and then-Vice President Biden. Baker asked Biden about the lack of prosecutions for those who lie of on the federal firearm background check form (Form 4473). Biden replied, "And to your point, Mr. Baker, regarding the lack of prosecutions on lying on Form 4473s, we simply don't have the time or manpower to prosecute everybody who lies on a form, that checks a wrong box, that answers a question inaccurately."
Second, we know this because of the Biden administration’s indifference to the president’s son Hunter’s potential illegal purchase and possession of a firearm.
On June 6, the New York Post published an article titled, “Packin’ heat: Nude Hunter Biden cavorts with hooker, gun in latest mess for president.” According to the item, the Post was provided with an October 17, 2018 video where “[a] naked Hunter casually waves around a handgun and even points it at the camera while cavorting with a nude hooker in a swank hotel room.” Stills from the video are available on the Post’s website and exhibit a severe lack of trigger discipline. The paper was careful to note that “[i]t’s not clear what type of gun it is or whether it is a replica from the video.”
A June 6 article from RadarOnline reported,
In two separate photos, Hunter is seen with one hand on the trigger of the gun and his other hand cupping his penis and pelvic area.
In a third image, the remnants of what appears to be crack cocaine can be seen on a plate alongside used and packeted condoms, along with drug paraphernalia and a spoon believed to be used to smoke the illicit drug.
Federal law prohibits firearm possession by anyone “who is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance.”
The New York Post was right to make clear that it hasn’t been determined whether the item in the new video is a real firearm. Moreover, NRA does not assert that Hunter engaged in any criminal conduct. This is something that would have to be investigated by federal prosecutors and proved in a court of law. In contrast to President Biden’s plans for gun owners, all those accused of illegal conduct should be afforded due process under the law.
However, it is instructive to examine the publicly available information on Hunter’s conduct.
According to a March 25, 2021 Politico article, on October 23, 2018, Hallie Biden, widow to Joe’s son Beau and then-companion to Hunter, searched Hunter’s truck, which was parked at her home in Wilmington, Del., and found a .38-caliber revolver – a seemingly different gun than the item pictured in the video recently released by the New York Post. Seeking to dispose of the firearm, Hallie wrapped the revolver in a shopping bag and threw it into a trash receptacle outside nearby gourmet grocery store Janssen’s Market.
When Hallie told Hunter what she had done, Hunter told her to go back to the market and recover the gun. However, by the time Hallie returned to the store the firearm was gone. After Hallie alerted Janssen’s to what she had done, the store’s manager contacted law enforcement.
What ensued next was a situation that involved no less than the Delaware State Police, the U.S. Secret Service (allegedly), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. In the end, the firearm was recovered by a man searching Janssen’s Market’s trash for recyclables and returned a few days later. Police did not charge Hunter or Hallie in connection with the incident.
Aside from details of this bizarre family drama and the atrocious gun handling, the Politico article pointed out that Hunter’s notorious and admitted history of drug use raised questions about whether he acquired and possessed the gun in accordance with federal law.
According to the item, Hunter purchased the .38 -caliber revolver from a Federal Firearms Licensee (gun dealer) on October 12, 2018 – 11 days before the incident with Hallie.
In order to acquire a firearm from a gun dealer, a buyer must complete an ATF Form 4473. The form requires the buyer to record identifying information and asks them a series of questions about their eligibility to possess a firearm.
Addressing Hunter’s completion of the Form 4473, the Politico report noted, “Hunter responded ‘no’ to a question on the transaction record that asks, ‘Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?’”
As previously noted, federal law prohibits the possession of firearms by anyone “who is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance.” The term “unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance” is further defined at length by federal regulation. The relevant regulation (27 C.F.R. § 478.11) elaborates,
A person who uses a controlled substance and has lost the power of self-control with reference to the use of controlled substance; and any person who is a current user of a controlled substance in a manner other than as prescribed by a licensed physician. Such use is not limited to the use of drugs on a particular day, or within a matter of days or weeks before, but rather that the unlawful use has occurred recently enough to indicate that the individual is actively engaged in such conduct.
Possession of a firearm by a prohibited person is punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment.
Lying on a form 4473 is two separate crimes.
18 U.S.C. § 924(a)(1)(A) concerns when a person, “knowingly makes any false statement or representation with respect to the information required by this chapter to be kept in the records of a person licensed under this chapter,” which would include a form 4473. A violation of this provision is punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment.
18 U.S.C. § 922(a)(6) provides,
for any person in connection with the acquisition or attempted acquisition of any firearm or ammunition from a licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, licensed dealer, or licensed collector, knowingly to make any false or fictitious oral or written statement or to furnish or exhibit any false, fictitious, or misrepresented identification, intended or likely to deceive such importer, manufacturer, dealer, or collector with respect to any fact material to the lawfulness of the sale or other disposition of such firearm or ammunition under the provisions of this chapter;
A violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(a)(6) is punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment.
Hunter’s problems with drug abuse are no secret. Rather, in the modern fashion, the ne'er-do-well parades his personal shortcoming for public consumption and appears to bask in the resulting notoriety. “I probably smoked more Parmesan cheese than anyone that you know, I'm sure… I mean, I went one time for 13 days without sleeping, and smoking crack and drinking vodka exclusively throughout that entire time,” the admitted addict crowed to a fawning CBS interviewer in April 2021.
Hunter was discharged from the U.S. Navy in 2014 for using cocaine. The discharge would not be compelling evidence that he was an “unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance” in October 2018 - when he purchased and possessed the revolver. However, whether or not Hunter’s repeated admissions, or other documentary evidence, of drug use could give rise to an inference that Hunter was an “unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance” during the time period he acquired and possessed the firearm is a legitimate question.
The contents of Hunter’s 2021 memoir, “Beautiful Things,” suggest that the addict’s flagrant drug use was contemporaneous with his purchase of the revolver.
Hunter opened chapter nine of his book with the sentence, “I used my superpower – finding crack anytime, anywhere – less than a day after landing at LAX in the spring of 2018.” What follows chronicles the drug user’s debauched “five-month self-exile in Los Angeles.” Hunter described himself as “someone who’s up twenty-four hours a day, smoking every fifteen minutes, seven days a week” adding, “[t]he amount of alcohol I consumed and crack I smoked was astounding – even death-defying.”
Describing how desperate he was for crack cocaine during this period, Hunter explained, “If I suddenly ran out of crack, I’d scrounge around my car’s floor wells, cup holders, and door panels for any traces I might have dropped. Again, the crack crumbs were often indistinguishable from the spilled snacks, Safe to say I’ve smoked more cheddar popcorn than anybody on the face of the earth.”
The addict described at some length how, during the spring and summer of 2018, he learned to cook his own crack cocaine. Hunter noted, “I holed up inside the Chateau [Marmont] for the first six weeks and learned how to cook crack.” The president’s son explained, “[c]ooking crack took practice, but it wasn’t rocket science: baking soda, water, cocaine. That’s it,” and went on to boast, “I became absurdly good at it.”
Illustrating the extent to which he was addicted to a controlled substance, Hunter wrote, “If I rested too long between hits on a pipe, I’d be thrown into a panic” and “I was so lost in my addiction.”
The president’s son returned to Delaware in the fall of 2018, a time period he described as “[m]y penultimate odyssey through full-blown addiction.” Hunter made clear was not sober during the fall of 2018, writing, “I had returned that fall of 2018, after my most recent relapse in the California, with the hope of getting clean through a new therapy and reconciling with Hallie. Neither happened.” Around this time period, Hunter recalled, “All my energy revolved around smoking drugs and making arrangements to buy drugs – feeding the beast.”
Later, Hunter described the time period preceding a March 2019 trip to California as “nearly four years of active addiction.”
Now, consider how federal law might be applied to this fact pattern.
To reiterate, federal regulation defines “unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance” to include “A person who uses a controlled substance and has lost the power of self-control with reference to the use of controlled substance.”
A reasonable person might conclude that an individual so desperate for crack that they smoked crumbs of cheddar popcorn scrounged from the floor of their motor vehicle had “lost the power of self control.”
The definition of “unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance” also includes,
any person who is a current user of a controlled substance in a manner other than as prescribed by a licensed physician. Such use is not limited to the use of drugs on a particular day, or within a matter of days or weeks before, but rather that the unlawful use has occurred recently enough to indicate that the individual is actively engaged in such conduct.
In his memoir, Hunter admits to using illegal drugs throughout the spring and summer of 2018. The president’s son also noted that he was unable to get sober when he returned to Delaware in the fall of 2018. Hunter also made clear that in the “nearly four years” prior to March 2019 were a period of “active addiction.” Hunter purchased the .38-caliber revolver on October 12, 2018.
Of course, rather than investigate the notorious drug addict’s potential illegal possession of a firearm, federal law enforcement may have attempted to cover for him. The Politico item explained,
Secret Service agents approached the owner of the store where Hunter bought the gun and asked to take the paperwork involving the sale, according to two people, one of whom has firsthand knowledge of the episode and the other was briefed by a Secret Service agent after the fact
The gun store owner refused to supply the paperwork, suspecting that the Secret Service officers wanted to hide Hunter’s ownership of the missing gun in case it were to be involved in a crime, the two people said. The owner, Ron Palmieri, later turned over the papers to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, which oversees federal gun laws.
In response to the latest Hunter revelations, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) remarked,
Before proposing or passing any new federal gun legislation the Biden administration ought to enforce existing laws, regardless of who is violating them, even if that person is the president’s son.
I’ve written oversight letters to the U.S. Secret Service, FBI and ATF regarding the incident involving Hunter’s gun dumped in a trash can behind a grocery store across from a high school in Delaware. Unsurprisingly, I have not gotten a satisfactory response from these agencies.
NRA will continue to monitor this developing story and work to ensure that the federal government’s actions in this case receive the transparency that the American people deserve and to further expose the hypocrisy behind President Biden’s two-tiered gun control agenda.