The multiplatinum rapper Lil Wayne, 38, was charged on Tuesday with one count of possessing a firearm and ammunition as a felon, according to a court filing by the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida, stemming from a search of a private jet in Miami last December. He faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
Lil Wayne, born Dwayne Michael Carter Jr., previously pleaded guilty to attempted possession of a weapon in connection with a gun that was found on his tour bus in Manhattan in 2007. He served eight months of a one-year sentence at Rikers Island jail.
On Dec. 23, 2019, an anonymous tip led Miami police officers and federal agents to board the rapper’s Gulfstream V jet at Opa-Locka Executive Airport after a trip from California, according to The Miami Herald. Onboard, in a Coach bag belonging to the musician, the agents reported finding a gold-plated .45-caliber Glock handgun with a pearl grip. According to a warrant, Lil Wayne said he had received the gun as a Father’s Day gift.
Authorities also reported finding bullets, cocaine, ecstasy, marijuana, heroin, pain killers and prescription-strength cough syrup, along with $25,938 in cash, according to the warrant, though Lil Wayne has not been charged with any drug-related offenses.
A lawyer for Lil Wayne, Howard Srebnick, acknowledged in a statement that the rapper was charged with possessing the gold-plated handgun, but raised questions about the Second Amendment rights of felons.
“There is no allegation that he ever fired it, brandished it, used it or threatened to use it,” Srebnick said of the gun. “There is no allegation that he is a dangerous person. The charge is that because he was convicted of a felony in the past, he is prohibited from possessing a firearm.”
He added: “Although the Supreme Court has not yet decided the constitutional question, Justice Amy Coney Barrett recently wrote an appellate dissenting opinion in which she stated that ‘Absent evidence that he either belongs to a dangerous category or bears individual markers of risk, permanently disqualifying [a felon] from possessing a gun violates the Second Amendment.’”
Lil Wayne, a New Orleans native who has been famous since he was a young teenager, is widely considered to be among the most influential rappers of all time, based on more than a dozen albums and many more mixtapes and guest appearances. His most recent LP, “Funeral,” opened at No. 1 on the Billboard chart in February, becoming his fifth title to reach the top spot. He is also the author of a prison memoir, “Gone ’Til November: A Journal of Rikers Island,” released in 2016.
The rapper recently appeared, ahead of the election, alongside President Trump in Florida, and received some backlash from fans for vouching for the work the administration had done in the Black community. “He listened to what we had to say today and assured he will and can get it done,” Lil Wayne tweeted after the meeting.