Former President Donald Trump visited a gun store in South Carolina on Monday where he admired a Glock handgun and said, “I want to buy one.”
But because he’s under felony indictment, Trump would actually not be allowed to purchase or possess a firearm, according to federal law.
Trump spokesperson Steven Cheung said Monday on social media that the former president bought a Glock, but then another Trump spokesperson clarified that the purchase did not actually happen. Cheung deleted his tweet and did not respond to a query from HuffPost.
A representative from Palmetto State Armory in Summerville, South Carolina, told HuffPost that Trump visited the store on Monday but didn’t buy anything.
Federal law prohibits several categories of people from buying or owning guns, including people who use marijuana or any other federally criminalized drug, people who have been convicted of a felony, and people who have merely been charged with a felony.
Trump has been charged with 91 felonies in the two federal and two state indictments against him this year.
When someone buys a gun from a federally licensed dealer, the buyer has to fill out a standard form from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives with a series of questions, including whether the purchaser is addicted to drugs or whether the person has been charged with felony or crime for which a judge could levy a prison sentence longer than a year.
The form asks the buyer to sign their name under a warning that a “yes” response to any of the questions means the buyer “is prohibited from receiving, possessing, or purchasing a firearm.”
It’s unclear whether Trump has been entered into the FBI NICS database, which allows gun stores to conduct instant background checks. If he had been able to complete the purchase, however, he likely would have broken multiple federal laws. Lying on ATF form 4473 is a felony.
Many of the laws restricting gun purchases by prohibited users, however, are now in flux following the Supreme Court’s bombshell ruling in New York State Rifle Assn. v. Bruen.
In that case, the court held that the state of New York could not require people to cite a specific threat when applying for a concealed handgun permit.
The ruling, penned by Justice Clarence Thomas, laid out a sweeping new interpretation of the Second Amendment that cast aside public safety concerns when weighing the constitutionality of gun restrictions. Instead, courts must now assess whether a gun regulation has a historic tradition dating back to sometime between 1791, when the Bill of Rights was ratified, and the end of the Civil War. Trump’s three Supreme Court justice appointments made the ruling possible by tilting the court heavily in favor of conservatives.
Lower courts have cited the Bruen ruling when overturning age restrictions for handgun purchases, a ban on “ghost guns,” and a federal law barring domestic abusers from possessing firearms.
A Trump-appointed federal judge in Texas ruled last year that it’s unconstitutional to block people under felony indictment from buying guns.
President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden was charged with a felony last month for answering “no” to the drug question on ATF Form 4473 when he bought a Colt revolver in October 2018 while he was heavily using crack cocaine, as he wrote in his 2021 memoir.
Per the indictment, Biden “certified on the Form 4473 that he was not an unlawful user of, and addicted to, any stimulant, narcotic drug, and any other controlled substance, when in fact, as he knew, that statement was false and fictitious.” As a standalone charge, the gun case against Hunter Biden is unusual; he may also face charges for failing to pay income taxes.
In addition to the court challenges, several Republicans in Congress have taken aim at the drug restrictions on gun owners.
“You should be able to toke and still tote,” Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) told HuffPost earlier this month in response to Biden’s indictment. For years, Massie has backed long-shot legislation that would allow marijuana users to own firearms without lying on the federal form. (The proposal would loosen the prohibition on pot users but not on crack users.)
Despite Trump’s open embrace of the firearms industry, his comments in South Carolina suggested he has little knowledge about guns.
“Wow,” he said, looking at a Glock brand pistol in the since-deleted video. “And they sell well?” he asked.
Glock is an Austrian brand that popularized polymer-framed, semi-automatic pistols in the 1980s. The company’s firearms are among the most commonly sold guns in the United States and are widely used as sidearms by law enforcement.
“Isn’t Glock a great gun?” Trump later asked, furrowing his eyebrows and seemingly looking for an answer.
“A very good gun,” someone off-camera responded.
CORRECTION: A prior version of this story misstated Thomas’ title.