Hunter Biden committed a felony offense by lying on a background check before purchasing a gun, Politico reports. Yet nothing is being done about it.
Making a false statement on a federal criminal background check, known as ATF Form 4473, is a violation of federal law under Section 922(a)(6) of the U.S. criminal code. It also could violate Section 922(g)(3), which prohibits a drug user from possessing a firearm with ammunition.
Biden answered “no” in response to the question “Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?” as part of the background check. The check was administered on the Firearms Transaction Record Biden filled out in order to purchase a .38 revolver on October 12, 2018.
Federal law defines an unlawful user as “any person who is a current user of a controlled substance,” and adds that such use “is not limited to the use of drugs on a particular day, or within a matter of days or weeks before.” Instead, the law says, the unlawful use of drugs occurred “recently enough to indicate that the individual is actively engaged in such conduct.”
Copies of the transaction record, and a receipt for the gun, were obtained by Politico for a report on Secret Service agents intervening after President Biden’s daughter-in-law threw the gun into a trash receptacle.
Hunter Biden has battled drug addiction through much of his adult life, and was discharged from the Navy in 2014 after failing a drug test. The president’s son was stopped by police with a crack pipe in his car in 2017, and an assailant aimed a gun at him while he was trying to purchase cocaine in Los Angeles in 2016.
Hunter admitted that when he was addicted to crack cocaine, he smoked parmesan cheese because it resembled the drug. Biden said, “I probably smoked more parmesan cheese than anyone,”
Hunter Biden is scheduled to publish a memoir on his struggle with addiction next month.
Federal authorities are currently investigating Hunter Biden’s taxes, and his overseas business dealings drew scrutiny during the presidential campaign. U.S. Attorney David Weiss of Delaware, who is leading the tax probe, remained in his post in February while the Biden administration asked other U.S. attorneys appointed by President Trump to resign.
The Daily Signal answered the question we’ve all been asking in an article titled Did Hunter Biden Violate Law in Buying Handgun? 3 Big Questions:
Is This Law Enforced in Other Cases?
The Justice Department pursued at least two prosecutions for lying on a federal background-check form prior to Hunter Biden’s gun purchase, according to Justice Department press releases.
When buying a Cobra .380-caliber semiautomatic handgun at Flash Pawn in Memphis, for example, Everette Alexander said on the form that he wasn’t a convicted felon, although he was convicted 12 years earlier of possessing marijuana with intent to sell. In June 2019, a judge sentenced Alexander to 10 months in federal prison followed by two years supervised release for lying on the form in December 2017.
In August 2018, two months before Biden purchased his handgun, then-U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant of the Western District of Tennessee heralded the importance of prosecutions for lying during a background check.
“A valuable tool in this prevention effort is the ATF Background Check Form 4473, which must be completed before a federally licensed firearms dealer sells or transfers a firearm,” Dunavant said upon Alexander’s indictment.
“Criminals and other prohibited persons who attempt to thwart the background check process by lying on the required forms threaten to undermine this important crime prevention tool, and such conduct cannot be tolerated,” he said.
Juan Sauceda went to a Walmart in Brownsville, Texas, in September 2018 to buy a 12-gauge pump shotgun and attested that he never was convicted of a felony—despite convictions on two counts of assault and battery with a deadly weapon in 2013, according to the Justice Department.
Sauceda’s offense, which brought him a sentence of 18 months in prison, occurred a month before the younger Biden bought his gun in Delaware.
That said, prosecutions for lying on a background-check form in a gun purchase have been rare, according to a Government Accountability Office report. In 2017, the report said, only 12 of more than 12,000 Americans found to have lied on the form were charged and 99% of them got only a warning.
McCarthy, the former prosecutor, wrote in another column published March 29 that cases of lying on background checks should be prosecuted more frequently:
Often, what is concealed is a prior conviction. The authorities discover it in reviewing the background check, and the purchase never goes through. Those cases ought to be prosecuted more often, but it’s not true that charges are never filed. Even if it were true, this is not that situation. Biden got the gun and, predictably, lost it. That’s a case that ought to be charged 10 times out of 10.
In November 2019, almost two years into Donald Trump’s presidency, the Justice Department announced “Project Guardian” to crack down on anyone who would “lie and try”—meaning attempt to buy a gun after making one or more false statements on a background-check form—or “lie and buy”—successfully purchase a firearm after giving false answers.
President Biden recently nominated David Chipman to run the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Chipman is a veteran ATF agent who in 2020 called for increasing arrests of those who lie on a background-check form in a gun purchase.
“While at ATF, I conducted studies involving people who failed background checks to determine how many later committed crimes with a gun—many did,” Chipman said last year in a Reddit question-and-answer session. “This is a perfect opportunity to arrest people before committing crimes rather than responding after the fact.”
The conviction rate might not be particularly high for lying during a background check, but a perusal of the Justice Department’s website shows federal prosecutors heralding each such case in recent years as highly important.
Other prosecuted cases include:
- Last October, a Wisconsin man was convicted of lying on a form by saying he was not subject to a restraining order, when in fact he was subject to a domestic protection order in Minnesota, according to a Justice Department announcement.
- In September, a Washington state woman pleaded guilty to several felonies related to purchasing firearms for others, including making false statements. This prosecution was part of Project Guardian, and the Justice Department called the case an example of “‘lie and buy’ firearms trafficking schemes.”
- In August, a Virginia man with seven previous felony convictions pleaded guilty to falsely claiming that he never had a single one. The man also had outstanding warrants on charges of abduction, larceny, assault and battery, and withholding a credit card belonging to another individual. The gun dealer recognized the man and notified police, who arrested him before he could proceed with the purchase.
- In February 2020, a federal jury convicted a Nevada man of making false statements during a background check. The jury found that he lied about his address over the course of buying 35 guns in 2017 and 2018. He got two years in prison.
- In December 2019, a judge sentenced a Texas man to 46 months in prison after he bought four firearms, claiming that he had no felony convictions. The man actually had been convicted in Puerto Rico on charges of theft by means of violence, robbery, carrying a firearm without a license, and possession of a controlled substance.
- A Louisiana man pleaded guilty in July 2019 to making a false statement when trying to buy a Smith & Wesson semiautomatic pistol by answering no on a question about any pending felony charges. The man actually was facing charges of home invasion, simple battery, domestic abuse battery, simple assault, intimidating witnesses, and simple burglary.
- In March 2019, a federal jury convicted a Tennessee man for making a false statement on ATF Form 4473 by saying he was not a convicted felon, when he actually was convicted of felony burglary in 2008 in Mississippi.
As a separate matter, about 600 federal prosecutions occur each year for possession of both drugs and guns, Duke University’s Charles said.
So why does Hunter Biden get away with breaking a federal law?