Former President Donald Trump’s campaign backtracked Monday on claims the ex-president bought a firearm during a visit to a gun company in South Carolina—after commentators pointed out that doing so would have violated federal law, given prohibitions on people under felony indictments buying firearms.
Trump spokesman Steven Cheung initially said in a now-deleted tweet that Trump purchased a Glock firearm in South Carolina on Monday, sharing a video of the former president looking at a gun at Palmetto State Armory and repeatedly saying, “I want to buy one.”
Federal law prohibits anyone who’s under indictment for a crime punishable by more than one year in prison from shipping, transporting or receiving a firearm or ammunition—Trump has been indicted on dozens of criminal counts this year.
It also prohibits selling or giving a firearm to anyone when they know or have “reasonable cause to believe” that person is under federal felony indictment.
Cheung and Palmetto State Armory have not yet responded to requests for comment.
What We Don’t Know
If it will remain illegal for people under felony indictment to receive firearms. The law is one of a number of gun laws that are now being challenged in court in light of the Supreme Court’s 2022 ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, which has made it much easier to challenge gun regulations by requiring such laws to be “consistent with the Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.” Federal courts have split on the law barring people under felony indictment from acquiring firearms in light of Bruen—though the provision still hasn’t been formally struck down—meaning it’s possible that even if Trump had purchased a firearm, a federal court could decide to drop any charges against him over it.
Trump has been federally indicted twice on a combined 44 felony counts stemming from two investigations into his handling of classified White House documents and his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. All of those counts carry potential prison sentences of more than a year if he’s convicted, with the former president facing a maximum prison sentence of 505 years if he were convicted on all the federal charges against him and given the maximum sentence—which is unlikely. He has also been separately indicted on state charges in Manhattan and Fulton County, Georgia. Trump has pleaded not guilty to all the charges against him and denied any wrongdoing, decrying the investigations against him as politically motivated “witch hunts.”