Donald Trump, who is facing two separate federal indictments and dozens of criminal charges in four states, posed with a handgun with his face engraved on the grip during a tour of a gun store in South Carolina.
A social media post from a spokesperson for the former president said he bought the weapon, then clarified that he only wanted to, then deleted the post with a video of the exchange, in which Mr Trump can be heard telling the seller “I want to buy one” as he points to a bronze-coloured Glock pistol.
The clip was preserved by a social media account for the National Rifle Association, with a post stating that the leading candidate for the 2024 Republican nomination for president “falls in love with a Trump edition gun”.
Mr Trump posed with the gun alongside South Carolina’s Republican Attorney General Alan Wilson before a campaign rally.
Federal statutes prohibit firearm sales to any person who is under felony indictment, and lying on a transaction form to determine eligibility could also include additional criminal charges.
Mr Trump, who faces 91 criminal charges, and who famously told supporters in 2016 that he could “stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody” without losing voters, has vowed to protect and expand Second Amendment protections if elected, joining Republican candidates for the GOP’s nomination who have rejected the role of high-powered weapons and proliferation of firearms in the gun violence crisis.
The former president also has welcomed charges against President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden stemming from a gun purchase in 2018 – charges that involve lying on a federal firearm transaction form.
“I want to buy one.”
— Indicted former President Donald Trump while admiring a Glock at a campaign stop in South Carolina. A Trump spokesperson later said he purchased the gun, which would be an apparent violation of federal law. pic.twitter.com/UN05jcGhMH
— The Recount (@therecount) September 25, 2023
Last year, Trump-appointed federal judge David Counts argued that federal law prohibiting people under felony indictments from purchasing firearms is unconstitutional, a decision citing the US Supreme Court’s 2022 opinion that gun reform advocates have warned could radically reshape or upend protections against gun violence.
The decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v Bruen argues that any firearms restriction must “demonstrate that the regulation is consistent with the Nation’s historical tradition,” a decision hailed as a major achievement among gun lobbyists but one that raises the bar for state and federal laws to be able to respond to a modern gun violence crisis.
A wave of legal challenges supported by group groups followed the Bruen decision to challenge the constitutionality of such restrictions, including those taking aim at transaction forms.
Last week, the Biden administration launched the first-ever White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention to implement the president’s executive actions on gun reform alongside state and local governments, and to deploy a FEMA-like response in the wake of mass acts of violence and to communities acutely impacted by gun violence.