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30 Sep, 2023 14:50

Trump may have broken federal gun laws – prosecutors

The former US president’s campaign has denied that he illegally took possession of a firearm during a recent campaign stop
Trump may have broken federal gun laws – prosecutors

Former US President Donald Trump may have violated firearm laws if he purchased, as claimed, a handgun while he was the subject of a federal indictment during a recent campaign stop in South Carolina, prosecutors said in a court filing on Friday.

“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 says. “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.”

Trump, the Republican frontrunner ahead of the 2024 US presidential election, was presented with a Glock pistol that had his likeness etched into it by the owner of a gun store in Summerville, South Carolina earlier this week.

The court filing adds that Trump said he had “got to buy one” and that a campaign staffer uploaded a video clip on social media saying, “President Trump purchases a [Glock] in South Carolina!” The staffer later deleted the social media post and clarified that the former US president did not buy or take possession of the firearm.

However, this version of events was questioned by federal prosecutors in the Friday court filing, who noted that the claim was “directly contradicted by the video showing the defendant possessing the pistol.”

The Trump campaign later released a statement, saying: “President Trump did not purchase or take possession of the firearm. He simply indicated that he wanted one.”

Prosecutors made the allegation as part of a court filing calling for a gag order to be imposed on Trump as part of a federal case in relation to charges that he obstructed the results of the 2020 US presidential election.

The former president, the court filing claims, could be tampering with the potential witnesses or the juror pool by making “disparaging and inflammatory attacks” about people involved in criminal investigations of Trump. He has previously referred to Special Counsel Jack Smith, who is leading investigations into Trump’s alleged role in the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol and the Florida classified documents case, as a “deranged person.”

Trump’s attorneys have argued that imposing a gag order on a leading presidential candidate would be a violation of his “First Amendment freedoms.”

Should Trump be found to have acted unlawfully by seeking to possess a firearm, it would mirror, to some extent, the charges currently faced by Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, who was indicted this month for purchasing a firearm as a prohibited person.