Wyoming Gun Dealers: Don’t Lie Like Hunter Biden Because You’ll Get Caught

After President Biden’s son Hunter was convicted Tuesday of lying on the background check form for a firearms purchase, some Wyoming gun dealers say they’re not surprised, because that’s a stupid move and nearly impossible to get away with.

Mark Heinz

June 11, 20247 min read

A television in the Dave’s Guns shop in Larmie broadcasts President Joe Biden speaking at a gun control rally on Tuesday, the same day his son, Hunter Biden, was convicted for gun-related felonies.
A television in the Dave’s Guns shop in Larmie broadcasts President Joe Biden speaking at a gun control rally on Tuesday, the same day his son, Hunter Biden, was convicted for gun-related felonies. (Mark Heinz, Cowboy State Daily)

LARAMIE — Lying on a background check forms for firearms purchases is stupid and nearly impossible to get away with, some Wyoming gun dealers said Tuesday after Hunter Biden, son of President Joe Biden, was convicted on federal charges of doing just that.

“They (the purchasers) check the boxes” on the form, and any attempted fibbing is likely to be caught right away when the dealer calls the FBI to verify the answers, Dave Smith, owner of Dave’s Guns in Laramie, told Cowboy State Daily.

As Smith and his store manager, Leo Perez, minded their shop Tuesday, a television on the wall was playing news footage of President Biden speaking at a rally for gun control advocates. That, even as news was breaking that his son had been convicted of falsely answering that he wasn’t addicted to illegal drugs on a background check form.

For their part, federally-licensed gun dealers are picky about how the forms are filled out, Smith said.

“We try to follow everything to the exact letter of the federal law,” Smith said.

Scott Weber, owner of Gunrunner Firearms & Auctions in Cody and Ohio, told Cowboy State Daily no shenanigans are allowed when it comes to people filling out the forms in his shops.

“We watch the person fill out the form. You can’t say, ‘My reading glasses are in the truck, let me go fill this out in my truck,’” Weber said. “No. They start with a clean form, in front of us. And if they make any mistakes, they have to start over again.”

The Case Against Hunter Biden

A federal jury in Delaware convicted Hunter Biden of three felony charges related to his purchase and brief possession of a revolver that he bought from a Delaware gun shop in October 2018.

The first two charges stemmed from him lying on a background check form by checking question-response boxes on the form indicating that he was not using or addicted to illegal drugs. The third charge was for illegally possessing the gun while using or addicted to illicit drugs.

The maximum penalties for those charges could include 25 years in prison and $750,000 in fines. However, as a first-time offender, Hunter Biden might get a lighter sentence.

A judge is expected to schedule a sentencing hearing in the case within the next 120 days.

Weber said he “wrote a lengthy memo” to his employees Tuesday highlighting Hunter Biden’s conviction an as example of why Form 4473, the background check form, is vital and so important to get right.

“I’ve been riveted to this case, because it applies directly to what we do every day,” he said.

Most Lies Caught Right Away

According to federal law, background check forms must be filled out for all firearms purchases from federally licensed gun dealers. It involves the buyer checking a series of “yes” or “no” boxes related to questions such as whether they’ve ever been convicted of a felony, renounced their American citizenship or are a fugitive from justice.

Some find it humorous to be asked “are you a fugitive from justice?”

“People might laugh about that one. But if you are, and you say no, and then you’re caught later, they have that form and they can use that form against you, just like they did with Biden,” Weber said.

One the purchaser completes and signs the form, the dealer sends the information to the FBI and the response is usually quick, sometimes almost instant.

The dealer will get one of three responses, Weber said.

“Proceed” means it’s all clear and the dealer can proceed with completing the sale and handing the gun over to the buyer.

“Delay” means there might be a waiting period of three to five days before the purchase can be cleared or denied.

And “deny” means just that, there can be no legal sale.

If that happens, then the seller’s neck is on the line if he or she decides to proceed with trying to buy a firearm.


Weber and Smith say when they get “deny” responses from the FBI, they tell the buyer right away and refuse to proceed any further with the sale.

Smith said the FBI doesn’t offer any detailed explanation for a denial, but when a sale is denied, all he can do is tell the customer that they can appeal the rejection to the federal authorities if they wish, because the matter is out of his hands at that point.

Most “deny” messages come right away.

Weber said he’s not sure how Hunter Biden’s lie slipped through, and the gun dealer in that case was sent a “proceed” message. It might have been because there weren’t yet any records in the FBI data base related the Biden’s drug use and addiction.

But even those who might temporarily fool the system shouldn’t assume they got away clean. A lie will eventually be found out one way or another, he said.

There are extremely rare instances in which the FBI will give a “proceed” response after an initial delay, but then change that to “deny” after the customer has already picked up the gun.

“I’ve had that happen to me,” he said. “They’ll ask you, ‘Would you like to retrieve the gun, or would you like us to send and agent to retrieve it?’”

Weber said he’s OK with calling customers and see if they’re willing to return a firearm to the store themselves, but leaves door-knock recoveries up to federal agents.

Regulations Are Complex

Weber and Smith said that when a customer is denied on a background check, they keep the forms on file, just in case federal agents or prosecutors request those records later.

So far, none have, they said.

Smith said another layer of complication comes with the variation on gun regulations between states, Smith said. In Laramie, he gets his fair share of customers from Colorado, but typically won’t give firearms directly to residents of the Centennial State.

That’s because some firearms that are legal to sell in Wyoming aren’t legal in Colorado jurisdictions. Boulder has a ban on AR-15s and the like, for example.

Instead, Smith will offer to ship a firearm to a gun shop in Colorado, where the customer will have to go through the background check process all over again before taking possession of the gun.

Smith said he can’t risk getting tangled up in the different regulations between states, which could potentially land him in hot water.

“We go by the federal regulations, and follow them,” he said.

The Right To Refuse

Perez said the background check system is largely effective in keeping guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them.

But dealers also have leeway to deny sales they’re not comfortable with, he added.

“As a private business, we have the right to refuse service to anyone,” Perez said.

Weber and Smith said that, for instance, they’ll flatly refuse to sell a gun to anybody who comes in smelling of liquor.

Smith added that he and Perez tell their employees they have the right to delay any sale, and defer it to them as the manager and owner of the shop.

“We instruct our employees that if they feel uncomfortable about a sale for any reason, they can deny it and ask that person to come to me or Leo,” he said.

Weber said licensed firearms dealers should act as gatekeepers.

“We’re the first line of defense in keeping firearms out of the hands of people who should not have them,” he said.

Mark Heinz can be reached at mark@cowboystatedaily.com.

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Mark Heinz

Outdoors Reporter