In a recent legal development, federal prosecutors have countered the defense of Hunter Biden, President Joe Biden’s son, in a case involving felony gun charges.
Prosecutors argued in a brief filed on January 16 that the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment does not shield Biden from these charges.
Disarming risky individuals justified despite Supreme Court ruling
This stance comes in light of a 2022 U.S. Supreme Court decision that invalidated certain gun restrictions in New York.
The prosecutors’ brief stated, “Anglo-American law has long recognized that the government may disarm those who, by their conduct or characteristics, present an increased risk to public safety if they possess firearms.”
This interpretation suggests that existing U.S. law, which prohibits gun ownership by individuals using or addicted to drugs, remains valid under the Supreme Court’s decision.
Hunter Biden faces felonies over false certification
Hunter Biden, 53, faces three felony counts after falsely certifying on a form in 2018 that he was not using or addicted to drugs. He later admitted in his memoir to using drugs at that time.
However, Biden’s legal team has challenged the constitutionality of the statute he is accused of violating, citing the Supreme Court’s ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen.
“In truth, the statute is indefensible under the Bruen framework,” Biden’s lawyers argued in their motion to dismiss the charges.
Recent court rulings and ongoing legal debates
Biden’s defense referenced a recent appeals court ruling involving Patrick Daniels Jr. from Mississippi, who was convicted under the same law for being a marijuana user in possession of a gun.
The court, applying the Bruen framework, found the government failed to show historical laws barring intoxicated individuals from gun ownership.
The prosecutors, however, asserted that the Daniels case is nonbinding and highlighted that the Supreme Court is yet to issue a ruling on the matter.
They argued that historical laws, including the 1662 Militia Act and 1800s U.S. laws, have long prohibited gun ownership among those deemed dangerous to public safety.
Implications of cognitive impairment and public safety risks
This tradition, they claim, validates the current law against drug users possessing firearms.
Prosecutors emphasized the public safety risks associated with drug use and firearm possession.
They cited studies showing drugs impair critical cognitive functions, arguing that possessing firearms under such impairment poses significant risks.
“It is practically beyond reasonable dispute that firearm possession while operating under significant cognitive impairment in critical areas like attention, speed of processing, emotional regulation, inhibition control, and the ability to prioritize negative long-term consequences… presents a significant public safety risk” the prosecutors stated.
Hunter Biden charged with false statements on gun purchase
Hunter Biden is accused of making false statements related to the gun he purchased in 2018. He bought a Colt Cobra revolver but denied drug use on the required form, contradicting his later admissions.
His girlfriend later disposed of the gun, which was eventually recovered by police.
Evidence from Biden’s accounts, obtained during an investigation for tax crimes, led to the firearm charges.
Biden’s legal team challenges gun law; prosecutors defend charge validity
Biden’s lawyers have argued that if the gun law is declared unconstitutional, the counts of making false statements should also be dismissed.
Prosecutors, however, urged the court to reject this argument, citing Supreme Court rulings that a defendant cannot evade criminal liability for a false statement by challenging the constitutionality of the statute.
This case highlights the complex interplay between individual rights, public safety, and legal interpretations of the Second Amendment.