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Hunter Biden posed a threat to public safety, DoJ argues in gun case

Legal experts claim a recent Supreme Court ruling that expanded gun rights could protect Hunter Biden from prosecution

Martha McHardy
Wednesday 17 January 2024 19:49 GMT
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Hunter Biden arrives in Washington for House hearing to hold him in contempt

Hunter Biden posed a threat to public safety and cannot rely on his constitutional right to a firearm to avoid prosecution for federal gun charges, the US Department of Justice said in a court filing on Tuesday.

Lawyers for the son of the president are currently attempting to have three felony gun charges against him thrown out after he was indicted in Delaware in September over a gun purchase in October 2018 when he was in the grips of drug addiction.

Prosecutors allege that Mr Biden unlawfully possessed a Colt Cobra 38SPL revolver for 11 days after he falsely claimed on a gun purchase form that he didn’t use drugs. Under federal law, an unlawful drug user cannot legally possess a firearm.

Attorneys for Mr Biden have attempted to get the charges thrown out, arguing that the law used to charge him was likely unconstitutional based on a recent Supreme Court ruling on the Second Amendment, which ruled that gun restrictions must be consistent with the US “historical tradition of firearm regulation”.

Legal experts claim this could protect Mr Biden from prosecution, arguing that the government has historically chosen not to disarm individuals who used drugs or alcohol.

However, the Department of Justice has argued that Mr Biden’s legal team has misinterpreted US Supreme Court guidance by arguing there is no historical precedent for preventing people with a history of substance abuse from possessing guns.

Hunter Biden was indicted on three felony gun charges (Reuters)

“Anglo-American law has long recognised that the government may disarm those who, by their conduct or characteristics, present an increased risk to public safety if they possess firearms,” the DoJ said in a court filing in Delaware.

The president’s son is facing up to 25 years in prison and fines of up to $750,000 if he is found guilty.

Lawyers for Mr Biden have claimed that he never fired the gun in the 11 days he owned it. Mr Biden has also pleaded not guilty to charges accusing him of lying about his drug use.

This week, attorneys for Mr Biden made another attempt to get the charges against him thrown out, accusing the US special counsel who charged Mr Biden, David Weiss, of “[buckling] under political pressure” from congressional Republicans loyal to Mr Trump.

Mr Weiss, who was appointed US attorney by former president Donald Trump, pushed back against the allegation, calling Mr Biden’s claim “a fiction designed for a Hollywood script”.

“This claim borders on the absurd,” Mr Weiss’ office wrote in a 57-page response on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, prosecutors said they had “overwhelming” evidence against Mr Biden as they sought to push back on allegations that the charges are politically motivated.

Investigators said they found trace amounts of cocaine on a brown leather pouch that held the firearm after it was recovered by police.

Mr Biden has previously acknowledged struggling with an addiction to crack cocaine in 2018 but his lawyers have said he didn’t break the law. Hunter Biden has since said that he’s stopped using drugs and has worked to turn his life around.

In addition to the gun charges, Mr Biden is also facing a separate tax indictment. He pleaded not guilty to those charges last week.

Congressional Republicans have also threatened to hold Mr Biden in contempt of court over his defiance of a December subpoena for a hearing about his father’s involvement in his foreign business dealings.

However, House Republicans paused such efforts this week, citing negotiations with his attorneys that could end the standoff.

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