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Understanding Federal Firearms Law and Drug Use

What are Hunter Biden's charges?

By Sharon FeldmanPublished about a month ago 3 min read
Understanding Federal Firearms Law and Drug Use
Photo by Tom Def on Unsplash

Hunter Biden was found guilty of three federal gun charges earlier this week. These charges come after Biden purchased a gun in 2018 and lied on the ATF form, claiming he wasn't a drug user while he was allegedly addicted to crack cocaine at the time. This is illegal under federal law. He's charged with making false statements on the form and to the gun dealer, as well as illegally possessing the firearm for 11 days.

This article will explore and clarify these federal gun purchase regulations and explain how they might impact someone with a history of drug use. If you or a loved one is facing a similar charge, you should consult with a gun charge lawyer as soon as possible.

Federal Firearms Purchases and Background Checks

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) regulates gun purchases in the United States. When buying a firearm from a licensed dealer, you'll need to fill out ATF Form 4473, which includes a background check. A key question on this form asks: "Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?" Answering "yes" to this question disqualifies you from purchasing a firearm. Biden answered no, which according to his recent charges was a lie.

Unlawful Drug Use and Firearm Disqualification

Federal law prohibits anyone who is an unlawful user of a controlled substance from possessing a firearm. Here's what you need to know:

Unlawful User Defined: The law focuses on current use or addiction, not past use. It's important to distinguish between this and medical marijuana use. Federal law classifies marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance, making it illegal under federal jurisdiction. However, some states have legalized medical and/or recreational marijuana use. In these states, using medical marijuana according to state law does not necessarily disqualify you from gun ownership.

Penalties: Violating this law, including lying on Form 4473, can lead to serious consequences, including prison time and fines.

The Patrick Daniels Case (2023) and its Implications

Adding another layer of complexity, a recent federal appeals court ruling challenged these regulations. In 2023, the case of Patrick Daniels challenged the law's application to marijuana users. The court, citing the Supreme Court's 2022 Bruen decision that expanded gun rights, found the law unconstitutional as applied to Daniels, a marijuana user. They argued the law wasn't consistent with historical firearm regulations.

It's important to note that this ruling is narrow and may not apply to all drug use cases. The law is still being debated, and it's unclear how future courts will interpret the Bruen decision in relation to drug use and gun ownership.

Where and When Can You Buy a Firearm?

If you're not disqualified due to drug use or other factors outlined in federal law, purchasing a firearm from a licensed dealer involves a specific process:

Background Check: This is a critical step to ensure you are eligible to own a firearm. The background check verifies your information against various databases, including criminal history, mental health records, and restraining orders.

ID Verification: You will need to provide valid government-issued identification to prove your identity and residency (requirements may vary by state).

Waiting Period (Optional): Some states have waiting periods between when you initiate the purchase and when you can take possession of the firearm.

Alternative Ways to Acquire Firearms

While purchasing from a licensed dealer is the most common way to acquire a firearm, there are other methods, each with its own regulations:

Private Sales: In some states, private individuals can sell firearms to each other without going through a dealer. However, these sales may not require background checks, so it's crucial to ensure the seller is legally allowed to transfer the firearm.

Gun Shows: These events often involve private sellers and licensed dealers. Regulations for background checks may vary depending on the seller.

Inheriting a Firearm: Inheriting a firearm can be a complex process with varying regulations depending on your location and the deceased's residency. It's important to research the specific laws in your state.

Honesty on ATF Form 4473 is crucial. Answering "no" when you are an unlawful drug user is a federal crime. If you struggle with drug addiction, resources are available to help. The ongoing debate surrounding gun control, drug use, and recent court rulings highlights the complexity of the issue. It's important to stay informed about the laws in your state and consult with an attorney if you have any questions.

Additional Resources

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF):

Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA):

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA):


About the Creator

Sharon Feldman

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    Sharon FeldmanWritten by Sharon Feldman

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