“Lie and try.” That’s what the feds call cases in which people who are disqualified from owning guns under federal law try to get a gun by concealing the disqualification. It is maddening but true that many of these people are not charged.
Consequently, you’re hearing Hunter Biden apologists argue that the president’s problem son should not be “singled out” for prosecution over apparently concealing his history of illegal drug use when he bought a handgun in 2018.
It is a very misleading argument. Hunter, after all, did not “lie and try.” He got the gun. If he withheld a drug abuse problem that he was required to disclose, that isn’t lying and trying; it’s lying and succeeding.
The purpose of the law is to prevent lethal weapons from falling into the hands of people who are unstable or dangerous. Thus, some of the disqualifications deal with criminal and similarly suspect behavior, such as prior convictions and dishonorable discharge from the armed forces, while others deal with conditions of instability and mental disturbance, such as narcotics abuse and mental-disability adjudications.
And notice what happened in Hunter’s case. He did not reveal his history of drug abuse, he got the gun, and he handled it negligently, to the point, according to reports, that his then-girlfriend found it in a car and carelessly sought to dispose of it in the trash bin of a
local store — obviously, because she was concerned about the dangerous potential of his having it.
Sounds an awful lot like what happened with his laptop computers, on which The Post reported extensively prior to the 2020 election.
Despite the fact that the hard drives were teeming with sensitive, embarrassing, and potentially incriminating information, Hunter never returned to get them back after bringing them to a repair shop.
Did he forget? Did he make a rash decision to leave them in the hands of a technician he’d never met before? Who knows? All we can say with confidence is: It’s the kind of terrible judgment typically exhibited by people whose substance-abuse history renders them unstable.
That’s why we don’t want them to have guns.
Much else is curious about this latest Biden misadventure. Why, for example, did the Secret Service’s office in Wilmington, Del., reportedly get involved? Yes, that would be the same agency that was then providing protection for former Vice President Joe Biden as he was planning his 2020 presidential bid.
The Secret Service has nothing to do with firearms background checks (the bailiwick of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives), or with investigating misplaced guns (that’s the local cops’ job). Why would Secret Service agents try to get the gun dealer to surrender the paperwork from Hunter’s purchase?
Congress ought to be investigating — clearly, if a Republican were involved, Democrats would be in whirling dervish mode and the media would be swarming.
But that aside, there is a reason many “lie and try” cases do not get prosecuted: The applicant does not get the gun. Often, what is concealed is a prior conviction. The authorities discover it in reviewing the background check, and the purchase never goes through.
Those cases ought to be prosecuted more often, but it’s not true that charges are never filed. Even if it were true, this is not that situation. Biden got the gun and, predictably, lost it. That’s a case that ought to be charged 10 times out of 10.
Andrew C. McCarthy is a former federal prosecutor and contributing editor at National Review.