Want to avoid prison time for being an unlawful user of drugs and a gun owner? Easy… just be the son of the sitting president. For everyone else, however, prison is definitely a possibility.
I’m none-too-happy about the plea deal offered to Hunter Biden for lying on the Form 4473 when he purchased a gun at a time he was regularly smoking crack cocaine, but I’m pleased that Armed Armerican Radio’s Mark Walters could join me on today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co to dive into the plea deal for Hunter Biden and what it means for Joe Biden’s anti-gun agenda going forward.
As Right on Crime executive director Brett Tolman pointed out, the deal offered to Biden is not only much sweeter than those offered to most other defendants facing similar charges, the special prosecutor leading the investigation may have violated the Justice Department’s own policies on charges in order to keep Hunter out of prison.
DOJ is violating its own internal policies on this case. The Ashcroft Memo requires they charge the “highest provable offense” and seek consistent sentences with other cases brought by DOJ. This prosecution is an absolute laughable joke. Thousands have been sent to prison for… https://t.co/Bi6iaRiDVD
— Brett L. Tolman (@tolmanbrett) June 20, 2023
Thousands of people have been prosecuted under Project Safe Neighborhoods by DOJ. They brag about getting nearly 5 years of prison time on average for their gun cases. If they followed policy, Hunter would be looking at a minimum of 5 years in federal prison. But he’s a Biden.
— Brett L. Tolman (@tolmanbrett) June 20, 2023
I’m not sure about the five-year minimum, but some prison time is standard for those convicted on similar charges. The only probationary sentence that I’ve been able to find (admittedly, I’ve not been able to do a deep dive into past cases) involved a Connecticut man named James Holmes, who admitted to ATF agents that he smoked marijuana while owning several firearms. While Holmes received three years probation in that case, it wasn’t because DOJ asked for no prison time. Instead, they requested Holmes be sent away for up to two years after he pled guilty to possession of a firearm by an illegal user of a controlled substance. It was the judge in that case who departed from federal sentencing guidelines, calling it “tragic” to put Holmes behind bars because she believed marijuana would “soon” be legal both federally and in the state of Connecticut.
The two sides agreed at that time that federal sentencing guidelines called for Holmes to receive a sentence in the range of 10 to 16 months in prison, although a federal probation officer later computed a guideline range of 18 to 24 months’ imprisonment.
The prosecutor acknowledged that Holmes’ personal characteristics “on balance inure to his advantage” in sentencing.
Holmes had never been arrested before, and he had done well since his arrest, never testing positive for drug use, generally holding a job, and receiving mental health treatment, the prosecutor wrote.
Assistant Federal Defender Charles F. Willson added in his sentencing memo that Holmes is “the attentive father of two young sons,” whose care is primarily his responsibility.
When Holmes was 19, his brother was murdered in Hartford.
“He lives with that night playing through his mind again and again,” the defense lawyer wrote. “His brother’s killer has yet to be determined.”
Holmes was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after his arrest, Willson wrote.
But the prosecutor suggested that Holmes’ traumatic history wasn’t entirely favorable to him in sentencing, writing that he “ought to know the danger of gun violence” and be much more careful with guns.
At the very least Hunter Biden should have been facing the 10-16 months in prison recommended under federal sentencing guidelines, and unlike Holmes could not have reasonably expected a judge to show mercy because his substance of choice would soon be legal.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation has also blasted the sweetheart deal offered to Hunter, noting that while the Biden administration is shutting down gun stores over minor paperwork errors, the DOJ is giving Biden a pass on what’s supposed to be a serious offense under federal law.
The Biden administration and the Attorney General Merrick Garland-led DOJ are more interested in appealing to special-interest gun control donors than they are concerned with upholding the law. This agreement fuels Americans’ concerns that the Biden administration supports two systems of justice – one that protects the Biden administration, the Biden family and its political allies and another that doles out punishments for those who oppose the Biden administration’s policies.
“Under this administration’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy, licensed firearm retailers have had their lives destroyed for paperwork mistakes far less egregious than buying a gun when you are a crack addict,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF’s Senior Vice President and General Counsel. “They are not serious about reducing gun violence, only scoring cheap political points. It is worth noting this announcement came today, after President Biden’s appearance in Hartford last Friday to call for gun control.”
How’s this development going to impact the 2024 presidential campaign and the anti-gun moves by the Biden administration? In our conversation, Mark Walters expressed doubt that there’ll be much of any impact at all; noting that the mainstream media will provide plenty of cover for the outrageous plea deal and will minimize any connection to Joe Biden’s broader gun control agenda.
While I’m sure that will be the case, I don’t know how successful the media will be in its efforts. I don’t think Democrats are going to lose much sleep over this particular gun law not being fully enforced against the president’s son, but I suspect that this plea deal will leave a bad taste in the mouths of many independent voters as well as firing up gun owners ahead of the 2024 elections. I think it’s also going to taint Joe Biden’s push for more gun control laws going forward; after all, why should anyone listen to the president’s demands for new laws when his own son was the beneficiary of prosecutors who didn’t want to fully enforce the laws already in place? Or to put it another way, why shouldn’t everyone facing similar charges receive the same amazing deal that Hunter Biden received?
Instead, the DOJ is continuing to argue in court that only “law-abiding citizens” possess the right to keep and bear arms while letting the younger Biden escape consequences for what the Biden administration insists is a very serious offense. It’s hard not to see this as an example of that two-tiered system of justice NSSF talked about, though I would say that it’s not one system for the Biden administration and one for their enemies. Instead, it’s one for Biden and his allies and another for virtually everyone else.