Years too late and still too little, a federal prosecutor has filed an indictment, of sorts, against presidential son Hunter Biden. Whoop-de-do. If he is convicted on these counts alone, he’ll be getting off lightly.
The three counts all relate to a gun purchase: one count of false statement in the purchase of a firearm, one count of false statement related to information required to be kept by federal firearms licensed dealer, and one count of possession of a firearm by a person who is an unlawful user of or addicted to a controlled substance.
Perpetrators aren’t likely to be given hefty sentences for lying on federal forms, and the third count could well be thrown out because the underlying statutory provision may soon be ruled unconstitutional.
Meanwhile, the statute of limitations has expired on some of the most serious tax violations of which the younger Biden is convincingly suspected, and a plethora of other possible offenses seem to have been ignored. While details matter and of course people are presumed innocent until proved guilty, Hunter Biden stands reasonably suspected, at least in the vernacular, of use of a controlled substance; soliciting prostitution; engagement with human traffickers; flagrant failure to abide by the Foreign Agents Registration Act; deliberate tax fraud involved in writing off the cost of airplane travel for prostitutes as if it were a business expense; and various forms of money laundering involved with some 20 business entities that certainly appear to have been shell corporations.
And that’s not even to discuss whether his blatant influence peddling was merely unethical (which it may well have been) or, instead, actually illegal.
Again, to be clear, the paragraph above doesn’t assume that by law he is guilty, only that prosecutors seemed entirely loathe to pay the slightest attention to an abundance of indicators of corruption.
Now, back to the actual indictments at hand. At first glance, the most serious one seems to be possession of a firearm by an illegal-drug addict. The federal provision at issue is 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(3), which originally was designed as a tool against use of gun violence in furtherance of major illegal-drug trafficking. If that were indeed its only application, it would be not just legitimate but wise.
Alas, as written and especially as sometimes applied, the law can be used to prosecute anyone possessing even an ounce of marijuana while somewhere possessing a gun or bullets, even if the weaponry was nowhere near the marijuana or the scene of any crime.
As I (and others) have argued for well over a decade, 922(g)(3) as often applied, and perhaps on its very face as written, is an unconstitutional violation of the Second Amendment right to bear arms. Various federal district courts over the years have suggested that the provision is constitutionally suspect, and the U.S. Supreme Court in 2019 narrowed the clause’s reach. Then, just last month, the New Orleans-based U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that as applied to a marijuana case, it is indeed unconstitutional.
The likelihood is high that within the next two terms, the Supreme Court will invalidate 922(g)(3) altogether.
Prosecutors know this. They thus know that the most “serious” offense for which they are charging Hunter Biden is one likely not to stand. In short, the Sept. 14 indictments are a way to look tough without actually being so.
Meanwhile, when it comes to the rest of the Biden son’s sleazy behavior, prosecutors act as wrong-way cops. Legally, they are firing blanks, or maybe cap guns.
Hunter Biden may pretend to be badly hurt, but in no time at all he’ll be laughing at how the game played out.
New Orleans native Quin Hillyer is a senior commentary writer and editor for the Washington Examiner, working from the Gulf Coast. This column originally appeared in the Examiner. He can be reached at [email protected]. His other columns appear at www.washingtonexaminer.com/author/quin-hillyer.