Ever since Hunter Biden’s most recent indictment on gun charges was handed down we’ve been “treated” to a host of lefty media types claiming that Biden’s legal woes have put Second Amendment groups in an “awkward position”, including most recently from Slate’s Molly Olmstead. Their argument goes something like this: 2A orgs don’t typically like gun control laws, but they despise Joe Biden, so they’re caught between a rock and a hard place. Either defend Hunter Biden (and presumably other drug addicts) from the federal laws barring unlawful users of drugs from possessing guns or lying about their drug use when filling out a Form 4473, or lend support to a federal statute that places the right to keep and bear arms beyond the reach of the roughly 20% of American adults who admit to using illicit drugs (including 38% of adults 18-to-25 who admit to using marijuana). As Olmstead opines:
In the world of conservative punditry, the charges appeared to be something of a coup—a deserved smackdown. But because the right perceives that preferential treatment for the younger Biden is around every corner, some are already speculating about how the president will let Hunter off the hook. “When will Joe pardon Hunter?” the editor of one gun publication wondered aloud.
Very few conservative gun groups defended Hunter, or adhered to their previously stated position that the law he was indicted under shouldn’t exist. The Firearms Policy Coalition re-shared a tweet from August, offering, “If Hunter is looking for gun lawyers to challenge the federal law he’s charged with violating … we know some people.”
Indeed, Hunter’s own lawyers are pushing the court to adhere to an earlier plea agreement that fell through, citing a challenge to the federal firearms background check system that is currently pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit. If that lawsuit succeeds, it could undermine the legal foundation of Hunter’s prosecution, the New York Times reported. That’s not what gun groups are pushing for, though.
The Second Amendment Foundation, which opposes restrictions on gun ownership, responded to Hunter’s indictment by quoting an article from a conservative publication: “The law spells it out pretty clearly that a person like Hunter Biden shouldn’t be owning a gun. And if you’re not going to enforce it against Hunter Biden, I don’t know how you’re going to enforce it against anybody.”
These tepid responses show just how much partisan politics plays into stated policy goals. The ambivalence from gun rights groups may not be surprising, given the political awkwardness of the situation, but it is notable given the opportunity to promote a new ally for the cause. On Friday, Hunter Biden’s attorney made the argument that would, under other circumstances, have been articulated by the gun rights groups themselves: The statute his client was charged under, the attorney said, was “likely unconstitutional.”
Honestly, I’m not seeing the awkwardness that Olmstead ascribes to 2A groups. Regardless of whether GOA, SAF, FPC, NRA, or any other group is actively working to repeal Section 922(g)(3), laws should apply equally to all. And while repeal of that federal statute may not be the top priority of Second Amendment groups, most of the major 2A groups have at least weighed in on the indictment. If Olmstead really wants to talk about the indictment putting groups in awkward positions, she should focus on how the gun control lobby has responded: with utter silence.
While some 2A groups may not be exactly eager to defend the right of drug users to keep and bear arms, outfits like Everytown and Giffords aren’t exactly keen to praise the DOJ or prosecutor David Weiss for charging the president’s son with violating multiple federal gun laws, especially since those groups (along with Brady) have already endorsed Biden’s re-election bid. Talk about awkward. If some gun rights groups have mixed feelings about Hunter Biden’s attorneys arguing that the statutes he’s charged with violating are unconstitutional, how do you think Everytown or Moms Demand Action feels about the prospect of Hunter Biden deploying a Second Amendment defense to stay out of prison?
There’s no doubt that the gun control lobby is fully on board with the DOJ’s argument that only “law-abiding citizens” possess the right to keep and bear arms, but the last thing they want to do is draw attention to their own position that any drug use, whether crack or marijuana, should not only disqualify you from exercising your Second Amendment rights, but should come with a potential ten-year federal prison sentence if you’re caught with a gun. It’s no wonder that groups like Everytown and Giffords would rather pretend that Hunter Biden hasn’t been indicted or that they’re on board with putting him behind bars (at least in theory). It’s just embarrassing to see Biden’s media allies pretend that the awkwardness over that indictment rests with Second Amendment advocates instead of the anti-gunners.