Virginia Mom Gets Nearly Two Years in Federal Prison For Smoking Pot While She Owned a Gun

AP Photo/Marina Riker, File

If Hunter Biden wasn’t nervous about going to prison before, he should be after learning what happened to Deja Taylor in a federal courtroom in Virginia on Wednesday. The 26-year-old was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison for being an unlawful user of drugs in possession of a firearm; one of the very charges that Biden himself is facing after purchasing a gun at a time when he’s admitted to smoking crack cocaine “every fifteen minutes.”


While Biden’s handgun was allegedly tossed into a dumpster by his then-girlfriend (and former sister-in-law), he managed to avoid any state-level charges for improper gun storage. Taylor, on the other hand, pleaded guilty earlier this year to felony child neglect for allowing her six-year-old son to get ahold of the gun and bring it to an elementary school in Newport News, Virginia last January, where he intentionally shot first-grade teacher Abigail Zwerner.

Taylor pleaded guilty to the federal charges of being an unlawful user of drugs while possessing a firearm as well as lying on her background check form earlier this year, and the 21-month sentence was in line with the 18-to-24-month sentence requested by federal prosecutors. I’m somewhat surprised that the full 24-month sentence wasn’t imposed given Taylor’s actions over the past few months. In handing down her sentence, U.S. District Judge Mark S. Davis noted that she had failed eight drug tests since her arrest earlier this year.

“There were too many off-ramps here,” Davis told her. “This was not a one-off. There was a really troubling history leading up to this incident.”

… A prosecutor with the U.S. attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Virginia revealed new details about the case in a sentencing memorandum. Lisa R. McKeel wrote that Jan. 6 was not the first time Taylor’s gun had been fired in public.

Prosecutors cited a series of text messages between Taylor and the boy’s father, which appear to show that Taylor opened fire on him with the same weapon about a month before the shooting at Richneck Elementary, according to the filing.

The shooting followed a dispute over whether the father was cheating on Taylor with another woman, according to text messages included in the memo. The father was not hurt in the incident.

McKeel also wrote in the memo that Taylor’s son had twice taken her car keys from her purse and gotten into her car. On one occasion, he crashed the vehicle, and on the other he refused to leave, according to the memo. Police had to break a window to get him out.

Following the school shooting, investigators found copious amounts of marijuana in Taylor’s residences and vehicle during searches, according to court filings. She had also been stopped by Williamsburg, Va., police for speeding in 2021 and officers discovered marijuana in the car.

Taylor denied any knowledge of the drugs found in the car during the speeding stop, according to a court filing.

Taylor admitted to not showing up for drug counseling and failing court-ordered drug tests after her conviction in the Richneck case, while she was out on bond awaiting sentencing. Prosecutors tried to have her jailed for the violations, but a judge refused in September.

“This case is not a marijuana case,” McKeel wrote. “It is a case that underscores the inherently dangerous nature and circumstances that arise from the caustic cocktail of mixing consistent and prolonged controlled substance use with a lethal firearm.”


Or it could be a case of an irresponsible parent lacking in judgment and good sense even while sober. I’ve known my share of pot smokers in my life, and for every stereotypical space cadet I’ve run across there are a dozen or more individuals who are fully functional; capable of raising kids, holding down a job, and every other responsibility that comes with adulthood.

With DOJ attorneys arguing in federal courts that marijuana users are a “danger to society” who must be denied their Second Amendment rights, though, I guess McKeel’s assertion shouldn’t really come as a surprise.

The good news for Hunter is that if Deja Taylor only got 21 months in prison despite all of the additional issues surrounding her gun ownership and use of marijuana, there’s a decent chance that he’ll get even less time if he’s convicted on the same charges. He may have been extraordinarily stupid and lackadaisical in ensuring his gun didn’t fall into the wrong hands, but at least no one got shot as a result of his actions.


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