Gun Laws: Why Not Enforce What We Have?

This is not a story about Hunter Biden. No, in this post, Hunter is simply a proxy for what’s wrong with the common-sense gun laws chant. It ignores a big problem with gun laws: Too often, they are not enforced, and even when they are, enforcement is often not evenhanded. The powerful, the connected, get waved through. The rest of us, well that’s why we have little people.

Case in point: Hunter Biden and his missing .38 revolver. From Politico:

POLITICO obtained copies of the Firearms Transaction Record and a receipt for the gun dated Oct. 12, 2018.

Hunter responded “no” to a question on the transaction record that asks, “Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?” Five years earlier, he had been discharged from the Navy Reserve after testing positive for cocaine, and he and family members have spoken about his history of drug use.

Lying on the form is a felony, though prosecutions for it are exceedingly rare.

Take a look at the the first paragraph of the 2018 GAO report at that “exceedingly rare” link. Politico wasn’t kidding:

Investigations and prosecutions. Federal and selected state law enforcement agencies that process firearm-related background checks through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) collectively investigate and prosecute a small percentage of individuals who falsify information on a firearms form (e.g., do not disclose a felony conviction) and are denied a purchase. Federal NICS checks resulted in about 112,000 denied transactions in fiscal year 2017, of which the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) referred about 12,700 to its field divisions for further investigation. U.S. Attorney’s Offices (USAO) had prosecuted [just] 12 of these cases as of June 2018. (Emphasis supplied)

See the problem? All the time, I mean all the time, people complain about how that shooter got this gun or this shooter got that one? Here’s a guy–a well-connected guy, no less–who apparently lied and thereby skirted the vaunted background check, and everybody knows about it now–and yet, he’s free.

For now. Who knows? Maybe he’ll be charged sometime in the future. But now, he’s just one among hundreds of thousands of persons who are not being prosecuted for giving false information on Form 4473, the Firearms Transaction Record, the form that initiates the background check. Want to get serious about background checks? Get serious about prosecuting lies on Form 4473.

By the way, how would you respond to the questions on Form 4473? Check yourself out at the link. Hunter’s apparent lie was in response to question 21 e. on the form.

The Wyoming State Bar does not certify any lawyer as a specialist or expert. Anyone considering a lawyer should independently investigate the lawyer’s credentials and ability, and not rely upon advertisements or self-proclaimed expertise. This website is an advertisement.