Former President Donald Trump recently visited a gun store in South Carolina and expressed interest in purchasing a firearm with his likeness emblazoned on it. Now, prosecutors are trying to punish him for it.
Those seeking to convict Trump of whatever crime they can stick on him contend that Trump would be violating the law if he purchased a firearm while under felony indictment.
Federal prosecutors said in a Friday night filing that former president Donald Trump may have broken the law if he bought a handgun at a recent campaign stop in South Carolina.
“The defendant either purchased a gun in violation of the law and his conditions of release, or seeks to benefit from his supporters’ mistaken belief that he did so,” the court filing argues. “It would be a separate federal crime, and thus a violation of the defendant’s conditions of release, for him to purchase a gun while this felony indictment is pending.”
The prosecutors were referring to social media posts by the Trump campaign earlier this week, when a staffer posted a video of Trump — who is the Republican frontrunner for the 2024 presidential nomination— at the Palmetto State Armory, a gun store in Summerville, S.C.
The video “showed the defendant holding a Glock pistol with the defendant’s likeness etched into it. The defendant stated, ‘I’ve got to buy one,’ and posed for pictures,” the prosecutors’ filing states, noting that the staffer posted the video with a caption that said: “President Trump purchases a @GLOCKInc in South Carolina!”
The Trump campaign later indicated that the former president did not purchase the firearm. Despite this retraction, federal prosecutors have glommed onto this incident as supposed evidence that he violated the terms of his release.
Trump’s legal team has countered by alleging that prosecutors are trying to muzzle the former president, violating his First Amendment rights during a critical political season. Indeed, if Trump neither bought nor took possession of the gun, then it might make sense to assume prosecutors are trying to inflate a non-issue to vilify Trump while magnifying the legal troubles looming over his campaign.
From a legal perspective, this story raises a series of issues. Trump has been indicted, but not convicted. Should an individual be forced to give up their Second Amendment rights when the government hasn’t actually proved that they committed a crime? It seems like this would be a law that could be successfully overturned in court due to the Supreme Court’s decision in New York Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen.
Either way, since Trump never took possession of the firearm, it seems prosecutors are grasping at straws in a politically motivated effort to further target the former president. Indeed, this looks like a situation in which government actors are trying to use their positions to silence Trump as much as possible to affect his ability to campaign. Given the reality that the four indictments against him are clearly an effort to influence the outcome of the upcoming presidential election, it would make sense to assume that even these little actions are also intended for that purpose.