First Charlton Heston, now Hunter Biden. President Joe Biden’s son could emerge as an unlikely Second Amendment hero as he fights off criminal charges that are an offshoot of the investigations that drove an impeachment inquiry into his father.
The younger Biden has been indicted on charges he violated federal laws that try to block drug addicts from obtaining handguns. Hunter Biden’s alleged gun violations came to light as part of the broader scrutiny of his business dealings, dysfunctional personal life, and the extent to which he benefited directly or indirectly from his father’s political power.
Now a key part of Hunter Biden’s legal defense may be that the federal provisions under which he is being charged are unconstitutional, based in no small part on interpretations of the Second Amendment by conservative judges his father’s administration has been at war with for over two years.
Especially important is a Supreme Court decision that undercuts firearms restrictions that would not have been common when the Second Amendment was ratified. The opinion written by Justice Clarence Thomas argued for a stronger presumption in favor of gun rights.
One relevant case working its way through the courts right now: a Mississippi man was stopped last year for driving without a license plate. The police smelled marijuana and not only found evidence of the drug inside his vehicle, but also a 9-millimeter pistol and a semiautomatic rifle, both loaded.
The driver was therefore convicted under a federal law that makes it a crime for “an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance … to possess any firearm.”
It all seemed pretty straightforward, until the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans voted 3-0 to throw out the driver’s conviction.
“At no point in the 18th or 19th Century did the government disarm individuals who used drugs or alcohol at one time from possessing guns at another,” wrote Appellate Judge Jerry Smith.
Ironies abound. Joe Biden has been trying to disarm people in similar situations to his son for decades. During his 36 years in the Senate, he was a big booster of both gun control and the federal war on drugs.
Since becoming president, Biden has let up a bit on the latter but certainly not the former. His Justice Department has been fighting against the very interpretation of the Second Amendment his son’s lawyers might use to keep him out of prison.
Hunter Biden purchased a gun and then allegedly lied about his drug use on a required legal form. He promptly lost the weapon, showing about as much care for it as his laptop, when his sister-in-law and lover took it from him. It ended up in a trash can near a grocery store and school, where it was ultimately recovered by an old man who dug through area garbage receptacles.
There is also the matter of Clarence Thomas’ centrality to the likely Hunter Biden legal defense. Joe Biden was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee when Democrats tried to block Thomas’ nomination to the Supreme Court.
More than 30 years later, Thomas has succeeded the late Justice Antonin Scalia as the most influential and throughgoing conservative voice on the nation’s highest court. He is also the subject of a variety of efforts by liberals, encouraged by Biden allies, to discredit the conservative Supreme Court majority.
For Thomas’ judgement to throw Hunter Biden a lifeline after a long-awaited criminal indictment is an interesting and unexpected plot twist to say the least – especially at the same time as the Biden administration is systematically fighting the justice’s Second Amendment jurisprudence.
However gun rights activists have not been eager to embrace Hunter as a poster child for their cause. The gun charges he faces are at best peripheral to the wider corruption and influence-peddling allegations conservatives level against him, and at times by extension his father in the White House.
Some view the gun charges against Hunter Biden as comparable to the tax charges which ultimately ensnared Prohibition era gangster Al Capone, making them less eager to see the president’s son as a gun rights test case. You likely won’t see the National Rifle Association playing up the matter in next year’s election.
But even so it’s possible to imagine a radical image change for the President’s son.
“I’m Hunter Biden and I am the NRA.”