The Latest Spin: Blaming the Gun Store for Hunter Biden’s Illegal Purchase

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Gannett’s flagship newspaper USA TODAY claims in a recent story that if a Delaware gun shop had “done its job” in 2018, Hunter Biden would never have been able to illegally purchase the .38 Special Colt Cobra revolver, which led to his three felony convictions.

“By law, handguns can be sold by shops only to state residents, who must provide a government-issued proof of residency, and Biden was not a legal resident of Delaware in 2018. Instead, he offered only a passport, with his name and birthdate,” USA TODAY reporter Nick Penzenstadler wrote in the story, which was titled: “Hunter Biden’s gun case was spurred by an ATF form. The shop violated federal law.”

The same allegations were first brought up in court by Hunter Biden’s defense team, but Judge Maryellen Noreika correctly pointed out that the gun shop was not on trial. 

Penzenstadler never mentions in his story that federal law requires the firearm purchaser to present valid identification and to be truthful on the ATF Form 4473, which Hunter Biden certainly was not. He concealed his drug addiction when asked “Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?” At the time, Hunter Biden was smoking crack cocaine nearly every 15 minutes, according to courtroom testimony presented during his trial. 

ATF compliance expert John “JC” Clark, co-founder and managing director of FFL Consultants, said the ATF Form 4473 is more than clear and warns the firearm purchaser that they will be held responsible for any falsehoods or misrepresentations.  

“Mr. Biden failed to recognize that, despite the ATF Form 4473 being provided to him by a non-governmental entity, it remains a government document. This form includes explicit warnings detailing potential criminal violations for providing false information. It is unusual for a government form to not only instruct the user to ‘READ THE FORM,’ but to also require certification that the form has indeed been read,” Clark told the Second Amendment Foundation Wednesday. “By signing the form, Mr. Biden acknowledged his understanding that making any false oral or written statement or presenting false or misrepresented identification in connection with the transaction, constitutes a felony offense under federal law.”

None of this, however, was presented in Penzenstadler’s story. Instead, to bolster the author’s narrative that the gun shop is at fault, he resurrected the once-infamous gun control activist, David Chipman, the excitable former ATF bureaucrat and paid anti-gun activist whom Hunter’s father tried unsuccessfully to install as ATF Director. The Senate Judiciary Committee deadlocked on Chipman’s nomination along party lines, and Biden the elder was forced to withdraw his name from consideration. 

Chipman is outraged the government hasn’t gone after the dealer. “We don’t give drug dealers a pass to get the possessor,” he told the newspaper reporter. “It’s criminal investigation 101. How the government has bent over backward to explain away the more serious felony is shocking.”

Paid gun control activist and failed ATF Director nominee David Chipman (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

If Penzenstadler’s name sounds familiar, it should. He was once part of Gannett’s corporate anti-gun atitprop team which paired paid activists from Michael Bloomberg’s The Trace with reporters and editors from the newspaper. That was a move that violated about a dozen of Gannett’s highly touted “ethical principles.” Penzenstadler is now part of USA TODAY’s investigative team, according to his byline. 

In 2021, Penzenstadler and a Trace activist interviewed Chipman for a glowing puff-piece titled: “Biden nominated him to head gun oversight. He went down in flames – but he’s not done fighting.” 

The story portrayed Chipman as heroic and claimed the “ugly and personal confirmation process hardened his resolve to focus on gun safety and push back against the industry’s outsize influence on the agency — even if he has to do so from the outside.”

In the 2021 story, Chipman lashed out at everyone he could think of for his failed nomination, including the White House and the Justice Department. He blamed everyone but himself for becoming a laughingstock and, at the time, the greatest meme generator since Biden himself.

Apples to apples 

Hunter Biden has yet to be sentenced for lying about his drug use on an ATF Form 4473 and possessing a firearm while addicted to, or using, illegal drugs. He faces up to 25 years in prison, but most court-watchers and pundits don’t expect him to spend a minute behind bars. While it can be problematic to compare the sentence one defendant receives to another, those looking for similar cases to compare to Hunter Biden’s criminal gun charges now have two examples to consider. 

Last month, Alexander Wesley Ledvina, 27, was sentenced to four years in prison and three years of supervised release after he was found guilty during a 2023 bench trial of one count of possession of a firearm by a drug user and one count of making a false statement during the purchase of a firearm. 

According to a Justice Department press release, Ledvina claimed on an ATF Form 4473 that he was neither a user of marijuana nor addicted to marijuana or any other controlled substance. However, during his trial, “Ledvina stipulated that he knew that he was using controlled substances, including marijuana, THC, and cocaine.” 

As previously reported, Miracle Star Vaughn pleaded guilty to making false statements during the purchase of firearms. Like Hunter Biden, she concealed her drug addiction on an ATF Form 4473. “During the firearms purchases, Vaughn provided false information regarding her address and her drug use,” a Justice Department press release stated at the time.

The ATF alleged that Vaughn, then 27 and living in North Liberty, Iowa, purchased seven handguns over an 18-month period, and that two of the weapons ended up in the hands of convicted felons. Vaughn, like Hunter Biden, had no criminal history at the time of her firearm purchases.

Vaughn pleaded guilty to making false statements on the 4473. On April 26, 2023, a federal judge in Davenport, Iowa sentenced her to 366 days in a federal prison. Vaughn was released three months ago and must now complete three years of supervised release.


Not too long ago, USA TODAY was at least seen by tens of thousands of people every day, although most of them saw it while stepping over the newspaper while leaving their hotel rooms. Still, for a national daily newspaper to unfairly target a small, family-owned business solely because they were unfortunate enough to do business with a Biden is unconscionable. 

If Hunter Biden lied on a 4473 and got caught, that is his fault, not the gun shop’s. Hunter Biden is an adult (ostensibly) who should be held responsible for his own decisions, good and bad. To imply that the gun shop should have known that he was lying about his drug use and his address when he bought the gun is unfair. 

The world is not made up of Hunter Biden’s minders, whose sole duty is to keep him out of trouble. There’s only one person who has that job – a 54-year-old self-admitted drug addict-turned-presidential advisor named Robert Hunter Biden. 


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This story is part of the Second Amendment Foundation’s Investigative Journalism Project and is published here with their permission.

19 Responses

    1. We rate this claim as true.
      Joe Biden was the first black women elected as president.

      In seven years we might change our rating. Depends.

  1. OK, but if the statements in this article are true, the gun shop broke the law. Not that this excuses Bobby Hunter Biden.

    1. The passport likely still showed a Delaware address unlike his drivers license which is why he used it for his ID. The legacy media loves to use half truths and out of context quotes and videos to sell their propaganda.

    2. ‘”OK, but if the statements in this article are true, the gun shop broke the law.”

      If someone allows, or induces a person to commit a crime, it is only fair that the person tricked is not responsible for the crime committed. When it comes to criminal conduct, someone else is rightfully responsible, rather than the person actually committing the crime. “The Devil mad me do it” is a rational justification. No one is born a criminal; someone else is responsible for turning an innocent person into becoming a criminal. Personal responsibility is unfair, and burdensome; time to abolish it. Not to mention that targeting habitual criminals is racist, and puts upon the disadvantaged populace.

    3. “if the statements in this article are true”

      Then there is the **possibility** that the gun store broke the law. They very carefully do not include whether or not the gun store checked what they were required by law to check as far as his residency was concerned.

      If his passport showed the correct state as his address (even if he had moved) and his paperwork showed the correct state (even though he was lying), and that matches what the gun store was required to check, they didn’t break the law.

      Considering how the story was written, that is likely the case. Otherwise, they could (and likely would) have been more specific.

    4. so, you do know that you write your own address in to your passport. Normally in pencil, since it may change during the 10 years the passport is valid. If Hunter wrote down an address in his passport that was the same as what he gave to the FFL on the 4473, then he lied yet again. Beyond checking his passport, what he put on the 4473, and running his NICS, what was the FFL supposed to do and how did they break the law?

      1. And the purchaser can show anything else for proof of address if shown a passport. Such as a bank statement, lease, or utility bill along with the passport.

        1. FFL holder here. That is mistaken. If a supplemental document is used for the address, it also must be government-issued.

      2. Agree. There are lots of ways a purchaser can verify residence address—driver’s license is one of course but utility bill, checkbook, vehicle registration, etc can be used as well. The purchaser enters his address on the 4473 and the seller just needs to have something verifying that. The question should be what address did Hunter put on the form and what did he show the seller for verification. He may have committed two more felonies for all we know. I’m afraid that dealer is going to get a colonoscopy from the BATF now. Hope their books are in order.

  2. So what dis Babblin’ Biden’s boy write on the secion that says “Current State of Residence and Address (U.S. postal abbreviations are acceptable. Cannot be a post office box.) on that little ol’ 4473 form?

    Funny how they only show the wee little piece that fits with their narrative…aint it?

  3. Alexander Wesley Ledvina, 27, was sentenced to four years in prison and three years of supervised release.

    Iowa sentenced [Miracle Star Vaughn] to 366 days in a federal prison.

    Do Democrats believe in equal justice? Do they believe in precedent? Answer: no. They only believe in power. Stop defending Hunter. Send him to prison. If the laws are stupid, then work on changing them.

  4. He is as lame as his father. They both blame somebody else for their mistakes, even if it was four years ago. The whole family needs to go to jail. They’re all crooks.

  5. I blame the Supreme Court for refusing to strike down the myriad of unconstitutional laws. They value their process and institution more than the Constitution.

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