In a recent issue of America’s 1st Freedom, I observed a paradox at the heart of the American gun-control movement: That while anti-Second Amendment activists wish to make it as difficult as possible for Americans to keep and bear arms, those same activists seem increasingly to believe that the enforcement of the laws they seek ought to be resisted when it is inconvenient for them.
As Exhibit A, I present the son of the current president of the United States: Hunter Biden.
Students of history understand how easily the law can be transmuted from a tool of equality into a weapon aimed at the less fortunate. The best laws are narrow in scope, easily understood and wholly indifferent to the social status of those they affect. The worst laws are open-ended toolkits for the punishment of the politically unpopular. The Peruvian dictator, Óscar R. Benavides, once said, “[F]or my friends, everything; for my enemies, the law.” So it is in the case of Hunter. Can anyone doubt that, if Hunter Biden had a different last name, he’d have been spared investigation?
When discussing gun control, President Joe Biden (D) is fond of saying “For God’s sake,” and insisting that “we must actually do something.” But not, apparently, if that “something” might impact his own son. In 2018, Hunter Biden purchased a firearm from a licensed dealer, and, while filling in Form 4473, responded “no” to the question of whether he was “an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance.” Given what we know about him, it seems extremely unlikely that he was telling the truth. Indeed, per Hunter’s own account of his addiction—as chronicled in his 2021 book, Beautiful Things—it is almost certain that he was an addict at the time. Which is potentially a big problem, because, under the terms of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993—a law that Joe Biden shepherded through the U.S. Senate—lying on Form 4473 is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Apologists for Hunter Biden tend to respond to this by pointing out that the federal government does not often prosecute people who lie on Form 4473. And they’re right: In the year that Hunter Biden purchased his firearm, only 298 cases were prosecuted. But this weakens, rather than bolsters, the case for new gun laws. If we don’t enforce the ones we have when we have slam-dunk evidence, why would we add more? And what are laws if well-connected people can skirt them? Eleven days after Hunter Biden bought his firearm, his then-girlfriend found it after searching his vehicle and threw it into a trash can across the street from a school. Not only were no charges filed, but, according to Politico, “Secret Service agents approached the owner of the store where Hunter bought the gun and asked to take the paperwork involving the sale.”
I will ask again: Can anyone doubt that, if Hunter Biden were anyone else, he would have been spared investigation for this long? Like anyone else, Hunter Biden is entitled to due process and the presumption of innocence. But, as the DOJ has confirmed, his behavior has never even been referred. Nothing, it seems, is enough for any level of government to open a case—not the evidence that he lied on Form 4473, not the evidence he violated the law against firearms possession by anyone “who is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance,” not his girlfriend discarding his gun near a school and not the recent set of photographs that show him standing naked, holding a gun, with his finger on the trigger, with drug paraphernalia nearby.
Taken together, these incidents all tell a story: That while the president may talk a big game, when it comes down to it, gun control is for the little people.