Do you know that Glock makes a particular Donald Trump version of its well-liked G19 pistol? The gold-colored handgun, which retails for $830, includes a drawing of the previous president on the grip towards a stars-and-stripes background, plus the phrase “Trump forty fifth” and the presidential seal on the barrel. Trump admired the weapon throughout a go to to a Palmetto State Armory outlet in Summerville, South Carolina, on Monday—a lot in order that, in response to a social media submit that Trump spokesman Steven Cheung later deleted and corrected, he purchased one from the shop.
“President Trump buys a @GLOCKInc in South Carolina!” Cheung wrote on X, previously often called Twitter. That caption accompanied a video of Trump’s go to, throughout which he twice remarked, “I need to purchase one.” Another person might be heard saying, “That is a well-liked mannequin.” The seemingly innocuous submit was instantly controversial, as a result of it inadvertently implicated Trump in a federal felony.
Since Trump is underneath indictment for crimes punishable by greater than a yr of incarceration, it’s unlawful for him to “obtain any firearm or ammunition which has been shipped or transported in interstate or overseas commerce.” Willfully violating that provision is a felony punishable by as much as 5 years in jail.
Cheung took down the video inside two hours of posting it, and the Trump marketing campaign issued a corrective assertion: “President Trump didn’t buy or take possession of the firearm. He merely indicated that he wished one.”
This episode ought to be greater than an event for mockery by Trump’s opponents, as a result of it illustrates the arbitrariness of federal legal guidelines that bar folks from shopping for or possessing firearms even after they haven’t any historical past of violence. It’s unhealthy sufficient that People completely lose their Second Modification rights when they’re convicted of nonviolent felonies comparable to drug offenses. The availability that Trump would have violated if he had executed what Cheung initially reported goes even additional, barring gun purchases by individuals who have merely been accused of crimes, offered the potential penalty exceeds a yr behind bars.
Until you depend Trump’s 2016 boast that “I might stand in the midst of Fifth Avenue and shoot any person, and I would not lose any voters,” there’s little cause to suppose he can be inclined to make use of a gun for felony functions. The costs lodged towards him within the 4 indictments he at the moment faces vary from trivial (e.g., bookkeeping entries allegedly geared toward concealing a hush cash cost that was not inherently felony) to grave (e.g., conspiring to overturn a presidential election). However none of them means that Trump’s possession of a firearm would pose a severe risk to public security. And in the interim, they continue to be unproven allegations.
It clearly by no means occurred to Cheung that Trump, who thus far has no felony document, nonetheless wouldn’t be allowed to train his Second Modification rights by buying a authorized firearm from a federally licensed vendor—or that such a transaction additionally would expose the vendor to felony legal responsibility for promoting Trump a gun whereas “figuring out or having cheap trigger to imagine” that he was “underneath indictment for…a criminal offense punishable by imprisonment for a time period exceeding one yr.” Whilst you might attribute Cheung’s oversight to vanity, another rationalization is a naïve perception that federal gun legal guidelines make sense.
Trump’s shut name ought to (however most likely will not) make his supporters much less eager on the thought of sending Hunter Biden to jail for violating one other, equally arbitrary provision of the identical statute: the ban on gun possession by illegal customers of managed substances. The present most penalty for breaking that rule, which applies even to individuals who use marijuana in states the place it’s authorized, is 15 years in jail, though it was 10 years when Biden made the 2018 gun buy that triggered his prosecution.
Biden faces two extra felony fees, each based mostly on his false denial of unlawful drug use on the type he stuffed out when he purchased that revolver. If Trump had truly tried to purchase the Glock 19 along with his face on it, he would have needed to full the identical type. Along with inquiring about drug use and felony convictions, it asks, “Are you underneath indictment or data in any court docket for a felony, or every other crime for which the decide might imprison you for multiple yr?” That query may need alerted Trump to his potential authorized jeopardy. But when he had checked “no,” that reply in itself might have been the premise for fees that carry mixed most penalties of 15 years in jail.
The constitutionality of those gun legal guidelines is unsettled. Biden’s father, who additionally occurs to be Trump’s possible opponent in subsequent yr’s presidential election, insists that the ban his son violated is “in step with this Nation’s historic custom of firearm regulation”—the check that the U.S. Supreme Court docket has mentioned gun management legal guidelines should cross. However a number of federal judges, together with a unanimous panel of the U.S. Court docket of Appeals for the fifth Circuit, have mentioned the supply fails that check.
The U.S. Court docket of Appeals for the third Circuit likewise has questioned the constitutionality of the ban on gun possession by folks with sure sorts of felony information. In June, it mentioned that coverage was unconstitutional as utilized to a Pennsylvania man who had been convicted of meals stamp fraud—a misdemeanor that nonetheless triggered the federal disqualification as a result of it was theoretically punishable by greater than a yr of incarceration.
As a dissenting decide on the U.S. Court docket of Appeals for the seventh Circuit, Supreme Court docket Justice Amy Coney Barrett went even additional, saying a felony mail fraud conviction didn’t justify the lack of Second Modification rights. “Historical past is in step with frequent sense: it demonstrates that legislatures have the ability to ban harmful folks from possessing weapons,” Barrett wrote. “However that energy extends solely to people who find themselves harmful.”
In brief, there are good causes to suppose arbitrary gun restrictions like these are unconstitutional in addition to unfair and illogical. These causes don’t hinge on whether or not you occur to love the folks to whom the restrictions apply.