Hunter Biden’s Trial Strategy — Second Amendment Rights?!

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Hunter Biden’s defense in his gun ownership trial seems to be lacking. Could he be aiming for a reversal in a higher court?

From National Review. From what I can discern, Hunter Biden’s defense strategy in his ongoing criminal trial is to seek appellate reversal of his likely conviction on Second Amendment grounds — which is rich given his father’s career as a demagogic opponent of gun-rights. …

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The president’s son is charged with three felony offenses arising out of his acquisition of a handgun despite his allegedly being a drug addict. Yesterday’s highlight was the prosecution’s admission into evidence of Hunter’s infamous laptop.

As is relevant to the case, the laptop provides a trove of inculpatory evidence that the president’s son was binging on cocaine around the time of his October 12, 2018, purchase of a Colt Cobra .38 revolver. It is a crime under federal firearms law (§922(g)(3)) for a drug user or addict to possess a gun. Moreover, Hunter claimed on a required federal form and in information provided to the licensed firearms dealer that he was neither an unlawful user of, nor addicted to, narcotics — actionable false statements as alleged in the indictment. …

Thus far, the trial seems strange in that the defense is not responsive to the charges. Hunter — seeking sympathy for his drug addiction and claimed redemption — is undoubtedly hoping for jury nullification in Wilmington, Del., the small pond where, for decades, the Biden family has been the big fish. …

In the pretrial litigation, Judge Noreika sided with the government on the question of what must be proved to establish that Hunter was ineligible to possess a gun. Accordingly, she plans to instruct the jury that prosecutors need to show that Hunter was using or addicted to drugs around the time of the gun purchase.

In the teeth of this, as our James Lynch reports, “The defense is claiming that Biden was not a crack addict at the very moment of the gun purchase, based on his apparent behavioral changes.” Putting aside that the evidence is not bearing out this defense claim, it is beside the point. To convict Hunter, the government doesn’t need to prove that he was “a crack addict at the very moment of the gun purchase”; just that he was using drugs or addicted to them in the period of time proximate to the purchase — which could be days before and/or after.

So what is the point of stressing the moment of purchase?

I believe it is because Hunter’s strategy is to win on appeal, on Second Amendment grounds. As I contended in a column earlier this week, Hunter’s only real defense in the case is a robust interpretation of the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Bruen. …

In any event, Bruen holds that the contours of the right to possess firearms are shaped by the original understanding of the Second Amendment, its understanding when it was applied to the states by the 14th Amendment in 1868, and American traditions of restrictions on gun rights stemming from those assumptions.

The federal prohibition on gun possession by users of and those addicted to illegal drugs goes back a half century, to 1968. A half-century seems like a long time, but the meaning of the Second Amendment protection was obviously developed many decades earlier. There simply is not a deeply rooted historic tradition in the United States of banning drug users from possessing guns. …

… Hunter’s defense is trying to make a record that, despite his undeniable history of drug abuse, he was neither using cocaine, nor under the influence of cocaine due to recent use, at the precise time when he bought the revolver.

This is not a defense designed to win at trial. Again, Judge Noreika has already ruled against Hunter’s Second Amendment claim that §922(g)(3) is constitutionally invalid on its face; and Noreika rejected the defense’s request that she instruct the jury that, to convict him, the government must prove he was using drugs at the moment he purchased the gun.

It is apparent, then, that Hunter’s defense is playing the long game. … [He] is trying to position himself to argue on appeal that Noreika construed federal gun restrictions too broadly; that his status as a cocaine user — even a heavy one — did not vitiate his Second Amendment rights; that he made a convincing record that he was not using cocaine when he bought the gun; and that the prosecution’s evidence of his drug use around the time of the gun purchase is insufficient to support a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt. …

What do you think of the first son’s trial? Share your thoughts and prayers below.

(Excerpt from National Review. Photo Credit: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

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