Months Before Hunter Biden Plea, DOJ Touted Crackdown on Gun-Related Crimes

The Biden administration has touted its enforcement of gun-related crimes

REUTERS / Elizabeth Frantz
June 22, 2023

Just six months before Hunter Biden's lawyers announced he had struck a plea deal with prosecutors that will likely allow him to avoid spending time behind bars for a felony drug offense, his father's Justice Department touted a crackdown on precisely the sort of crime that Biden committed.

In a January press release, the Justice Department said that "federal prosecutors [are] aggressively pursuing those who lie in connection with firearms transactions," arguing that its tough-on-offender policies were essential to  "reduc[ing] gun violence."

The Justice Department listed eight individuals who either pleaded guilty or were convicted of lying on a federal firearms application. The agency stated that "keeping guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them is of paramount concern" and will "prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands by holding accountable those who lie to get them."

"There is no higher priority than protecting our citizens and their loved ones from firearms violence," said Jeffrey C. Boshek, the special agent in charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives Dallas Field Division, in a statement at the time. "The lesson learned here is that if you buy a gun for someone that shouldn’t have one, you will go to prison. And trust me, prison is not somewhere you want to be."

None of the eight individuals received a "sweetheart deal," as Republican critics have described the plea agreement given to Biden. The first son, who was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm while addicted to a controlled substance, was offered a pretrial "diversionary program" that will clear him of all charges if completed.

The differing outcomes then and now would seem to bolster GOP allegations of a two-tiered justice system in which Biden is benefiting from his relationship to the White House. President Joe Biden has often called for more stringent gun control measures and signed several executive orders that created stricter background checks for firearms purchases.

The cases cited by the Justice Department in January include an individual who pleaded guilty to making false statements during the attempted purchases of firearms after omitting a conviction for carrying a gun under the influence of marijuana.

Another of the men spent 16 months in federal custody after he was arrested for making a false statement during the purchase of a firearm. That individual had been deemed incompetent by a court and was also the subject of a protective order that banned him from gun ownership. He is serving a two-year sentence of supervised release.

Prosecutors weighed charging Hunter Biden with lying on a federal gun form in purchasing the firearm in October 2018. Biden answered "no" to a question on the form that asks whether the buyer is "an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance." Lying on the questionnaire is a felony.

Text messages on Biden’s abandoned laptop strongly suggest he attempted to buy crack cocaine just one day prior to his gun purchase, the Washington Free Beacon reported earlier this month. In his memoir, Biden wrote that he was smoking crack "every fifteen minutes" during that period of his life. Federal prosecutors, however, never charged Biden with lying on the gun form.

The revolver Biden bought, a .38 special, was stolen less than two weeks later by his then-girlfriend Hallie Biden, who was also the widow of his recently deceased brother, Beau Biden. Hallie Biden, who texted Hunter Biden that she was "scared when you walk out the door," disposed of the handgun in a garbage can across the street from a Wilmington, Delaware public school.

The missing gun prompted an investigation by both the FBI and the Secret Service and was eventually retrieved by an elderly man who was searching the trash for cans and bottles. No charges were brought against Hallie Biden over the incident.

Hunter Biden’s attorney, Chris Clark, said Tuesday that his client is likely to remain free "without conditions."

The Justice Department did not respond to a request for comment.