The consequence for lying on a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) Form 4473 is “up to 10 years imprisonment and/or up to a $250,000 fine.”
Form 4473 creates an entry in the transaction log that includes the information that is given to the FBI in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) check, which is carried out for every potential gun purchaser at retail stores.
The first line of Form 4473 states: “WARNING: The information you provide will be used to determine whether you are prohibited by Federal or State law from receiving a firearm. Certain violations of the Gun Control Act, 18 U.S.C. 921 et. seq., are punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment and/or up to a $250,000 fine.” (bold in original)
The form will then have questions like:
Are you the actual transferee/buyer of the firearm(s) listed on this form and any continuation sheet(s) (ATF Form 5300.9A)? Warning: You are not the actual transferee/buyer if you are acquiring the firearm(s) on behalf of another person. If you are not the actual transferee/buyer, the licensee cannot transfer the firearm(s) to you.
A different question on form 4473 asks:
Are you under indictment or information in any court for a felony, or any other crime for which the judge could imprison you for more than one year, or are you a current member of the military who has been charged with violation(s) of the Uniform Code of Military Justice and whose charge(s) have been referred to a general court-martial?
Question 21(c) is the relevant one for the investigators who are looking into Hunter Biden's gun purchase in October 2018. That question is:
Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance? 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.
A recent Washington Post report stated that agents believe they have collected sufficient information against Hunter to charge him with having provided false information on the ATF form.
But, the Post clarified that the responsibility for bringing charges ultimately falls on “prosecutors at the Justice Department.”