It’s going to be an awkward Fourth of July cookout chez Biden, as Hunter’s legal team is reportedly planning to invoke a Supreme Court ruling dad Joe said “contradicts both common sense and the Constitution.”
But hey, Hunter seems to be thinking, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, right? Especially when doing so could keep you out of prison.
The SCTOUS opinion that new Second Amendment rights poster-boy Hunter Biden is embracing was handed down in June 2022. New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen challenged a New York law requiring residents applying for concealed carry weapons permits to show “proper cause” for carrying a gun. Essentially, people had to “prove” that they needed a firearm and were at the mercy of the state to decide whether their “rights” were warranted or not. In a 6-3 decision, however, SCOTUS declared the law unconstitutional. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in the majority opinion:
“We know of no other constitutional right that an individual may exercise only after demonstrating to government officers some special need. That is not how the First Amendment works when it comes to unpopular speech or the free exercise of religion. It is not how the Sixth Amendment works when it comes to a defendant’s right to confront the witnesses against him. And it is not how the Second Amendment works when it comes to public carry for self-defense.”
The question, however, isn’t just whether Hunter Biden had special need to possess a firearm or not, but whether, by lying on the federal Firearms Transfer Record, he broke the law. Hunter declared on the form that he was not addicted to illicit drugs, but according to his memoir, at the time he bought his gun, Hunter was also “smoking crack every fifteen minutes.”
“The Gun Control Act of 1968 prohibits unlawful drug users from possessing firearms,” reports Politico. “The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms says this ban applies to people who have admitted to using illegal drugs in the twelve months before buying a gun. Violators can receive up to fifteen years in prison.”
NYSRP v. Bruen has opened a new slew of lawsuits the Biden team are reportedly planning to cite as precedent, though since Bruen, judges have expressed mixed opinions on the matter of whether drug users should be barred from owning firearms. Politico references two cases — one in Oklahoma and another in Texas — in which judges ruled that banning people in possession of marijuana from having guns “was inconsistent with the Second Amendment and with America’s early history of gun regulation.” Yet two other judges, one in Texas and another in Mississippi, have, respectively, “noted that Bruen said the Second Amendment only protects the gun rights of law-abiding citizens,” and that “analogous statutes which purport to disarm persons considered a risk to society — whether felons or alcoholics — were known to the American legal tradition.”
According to the New York Times, “One case the Hunter Biden team has cited is a challenge to the criteria used in the federal firearms background check system… pending before the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, which includes Delaware. In that case, Bryan David Range, a Pennsylvania man who was denied a gun permit over a decades-old misdemeanor, is asking to be granted gun ownership based, in part, on Justice Thomas’s opinion.”
Are drug users inherent risks to society — and if so, what drugs specifically should bar a person from owning a firearm? President Biden’s Justice Department takes marijuana seriously, refusing to de-schedule cannabis from its Schedule I classification within the Controlled Substances Act, to the ire of Senators Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker. And what about alcoholics? Despite having been crafted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Firearms Transaction Record makes no mention of alcohol specifically, only vaguely asking if applicants are “an unlawful user of, or addicted to… any depressant [or] stimulant” (which could also apply to most of our exes, amirite?). Cam Edwards of Bearing Arms recently pointed out the flaw in asserting that the Second Amendment “only protects the gun rights of law-abiding citizens,” as that could theoretically lead to our gun rights being stripped for rolling through a stop sign.
The Hunter Biden case puts a high-power scope on the decades-long debate of the government’s role in deciding who gets to own a gun. Does the government have the authority to pre-determine a person’s likelihood of acting out in violence, when the person has no history of behaving in such a way? And should government be able to deny you your constitutional rights because you responded “yes” to being addicted to depressants — and Big Brother has an inkling you might be a mean drunk?
Hunter’s case also highlights flaws with the federal background check system: people can lie on the forms and not get caught (unless they moronically write a tell-all memoir admitting guilt). What’s more, barring non-violent lawbreakers from possessing guns will only motivate them to avoid the background check system altogether, which they do: the majority of guns used in crimes are stolen. You’d think it would be in the interest of government to have a record of everyone who acquires a gun, including drug users. As Aidan Johnston, director of federal affairs for Gun Owners of America, told Politico, “Whatever merit one might imagine on a ban on users of controlled substances buying guns, if we don’t trust people to buy weapons, why are we trusting them in society?”
Second Amendment supporters and libertarians everywhere should be applauding Hunter Biden for calling the media’s attention to the problems plaguing gun rights in such a way that they must squirm between their need to support the president’s son and marijuana but not guns — all in the same argument. MSNBC’s Jordan Rubin issued a masterful example of this, declaring the Bruen ruling to be “absurd,” but also, “it makes perfect sense for Hunter Biden and anyone else charged with a gun-related crime to use whatever legal defense is available,” but ALSO, “banning people who use government-disapproved substances from having guns is a suspect one.”
President Biden has no one to blame but himself for the pickle he finds himself in: if you didn’t want your son to mess around with guns, why in the world did you name him Hunter?