The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) will no longer search for or release records stemming from Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests surrounding Hunter Biden and his firearms. According to the Bureau, there are “substantial privacy interests” surrounding the requests.
Reports broke in October about “… the widow of Beau Biden, Hallie Biden, allegedly took Hunter Biden’s firearm and threw it in a dumpster behind a Delaware grocery store. Police investigated out of concern the gun could be used in a crime, particularly because the grocery store was in close proximity to a school,” The Daily Wire previously reported. “When Hallie returned to retrieve the firearm, it was gone, and it is alleged that the Secret Service in Delaware helped cover up the incident.”
According to Politico, Secret Service agents interviewed the gun store owner who sold the firearm to Hunter and attempted “to take the paperwork involving the sale.”
“The gun store owner refused to supply the paperwork, suspecting that the Secret Service officers wanted to hide Hunter’s ownership of the missing gun in case it were to be involved in a crime, the two people said,” Politico reported. “The owner, Ron Palmieri, later turned over the papers to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, which oversees federal gun laws.”
In November, Ammoland journalist David Codrea — the reporter responsible for unveiling the botched Fast and Furious gunrunning operation that resulted in Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry’s death under President Obama — filed a request for documents pertaining to Hunter’s gun being discarded in a Delaware dumpster.
Codrea and his attorney, Stephen Stamboulieh, requested the ATF and the Secret Service provide the following documents:
“[C]opies of law enforcement and administrative reports, communications, correspondence, and work papers, including with internal State of Delaware DOJ, the Delaware State Police, any local law enforcement and any relevant federal agencies including ATF and the United States Secret Service. This includes any case handling instructions from overseeing administrative authorities and/or agencies that would explain why over two years later, there has still been no public report or explanation as to the way the case has been resolved and why.”
The Secret Service responded in January indicating a “reasonable search for all potentially responsive documents” was conducted and “no records were located.” As a result, Stamboulieh filed a lawsuit in the D.C. District Court of Appeals over the Secret Service’s failure to comply.
“As of the date of this Complaint, USSS has failed to: (i) to fully comply with Plaintiff’s FOIA request; (ii) to respond to Plaintiff’s appeal and (iii) produce all the requested records or otherwise demonstrate that the requested records are exempt from production,” the court appeal states. “If no records exist, the USSS should be compelled to explain why no records exist if it was involved with the issue of Hunter Biden’s missing firearm, including but not limited to discovery on the issue if necessary.”
The ATF responded in February stating Codrea is not considered a member of the press, meaning the agency would charge him after he received his first 100 pages for free. Stamboulieh submitted a letter on Codrea’s behalf stating they would cover additional charges up to $100.
In March, the ATF issued a response saying “a search has been conducted in our N-Force and TECS databases,” which “contains all investigative files compiled by ATF for law enforcement purposes.” After a search was conducted they “were not able to locate any responsive records subject to the Freedom of Information Act.”
The ATF ended up providing a final response to the FOIA request earlier this month. According to Adam Siple, the Chief of Information and Privacy Governance Division, the initial FOIA request should have been denied because of “substantial privacy interests”:
As you know, my office did initially conduct a search for records responsive to Mr. Codrea’s FOIA request, but I have since determined that this was an error because the subject of this particular records request is a third party and a private citizen. Under these circumstances, the request should have denied categorically without a search due to the substantial privacy interests retained by the subject of Mr. Codrea’s request. Indeed such an approach is standard practice under both the FOIA and Privacy Act. I regret the oversight in this matter and the delay it caused in researching a final response to your client’s FOIA request.
According to Siple, Hunter Biden would have to sign off on releasing any documents related to the request.
There are a number of concerns surrounding Hunter Biden’s firearms. The first is the matter Codrea is attempting to obtain information on. What happened in that investigation and why were ATF agents interested in confiscating the gun dealer’s records? Why aren’t records being released to the public when Hunter has repeatedly abused his father’s political positions for personal gain? How do we know this isn’t the case?
A bigger question: why was Hunter Biden allowed to purchase a firearm to begin with? He was discharged from the Navy in 2014 for failing to pass a drug test. He admitted to CBS News’ Tracy Smith in April that he did drugs and drank alcohol at the peak of his addiction. It was so bad that he “spent more time on” his “hands and knees picking through rugs smoking anything that resembled crack cocaine,” including “parmesan cheese.” Hunter also recently revealed in his new book that he was addicted to drugs around the same time as the gun purchase.
The only way he would have been able to skirt federal firearm laws would be to lie on the 4473 form, the ATF document used to perform a background check through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). On the form, Section 21.e. asks about drug use, something that would automatically disqualify Hunter from legally obtaining a firearm.
“21.e. Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?” the form asks. “Warning: The use or possession of marijuana remains unlawful under Federal law regardless of whether it has been legalized or decriminalized for medicinal or recreational purposes in the state where you reside.”
Lying on a 4473 form can result in fines up to $250,000 and/or 10 years in prison.
Whether or not the ATF will investigate and/or prosecute Hunter is in the air, although President Biden’s nominee for ATF Director, David Chipman, promised on Wednesday to “enforce all federal laws without political favor.”
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.