A conservative appeals court just ruled against the federal gun law used to charge Hunter Biden

  • The federal gun law used to indict Hunter Biden has a surprising critic: a conservative-led federal appeals court

  • The panel ruled the law was unconstitutional in another case, but legal experts say it could come up in Biden's case.

  • The president's son was indicted on three gun-related charges on Thursday after his original plea deal fell apart in court.

The day before Hunter Biden was indicted, a conservative-led appeals panel ruled that the federal gun law used to charge Biden was unconstitutional when it was applied in a previous case.

The three-judge panel on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals sided against the law in a case involving Patrick Daniels, a Mississippi man who was convicted and sentenced to prison for possessing a firearm while being a marijuana user.

The law in question prohibits anyone who is an "unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance" from owning a firearm.

But the appeals court panel ruled that it was too broad when it was used in Daniels' case and tossed out his conviction.

The appeals court's ruling, which applies to Mississippi, Texas, and Louisiana, came after the Supreme Court issued a landmark decision last year striking down a longstanding public carry law in New York and dramatically expanding Second Amendment rights.

Wednesday's ruling cited that decision — N.Y. State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen — when tossing out Daniels' conviction, saying it was inconsistent with the US's "historical tradition of firearm regulation."

"Our history and tradition may support some limits on an intoxicated person's right to carry a weapon, but it does not justify disarming a sober citizen based exclusively on his past drug usage," Smith wrote. "Nor do more generalized traditions of disarming dangerous persons support this restriction on nonviolent drug users."

Hunter Biden — the son of President Joe Biden — was indicted Thursday on three gun-related charges.

Two charges in the indictment allege that Biden — President Joe Biden's son — lied when he wrote that he didn't use narcotics before buying the gun, a Colt Cobra revolver. The third alleges he illegally owned the firearm when he shouldn't have.

Two of the charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. The less serious charge carries a maximum of 5 years of incarceration.

Daniels' case is "readily distinguishable" from Biden's, former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy told Fox News, so it may not apply directly.

But "it's possible the Justice Department could rationalize that the 5th Circuit's ruling supports its exercise of discretion to give Biden deferred-prosecution treatment — as currently proposed, two years of probationary conditions followed by dismissal if the conditions are met — in a plea agreement."

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