For four years, former President Donald Trump was not only the leader of the free world, he was also in command of the strongest military force in all of human history.
Trump made it a point to use that power responsibly and as a deterrent, but with a phone call from him, terrorists were on occasion vanquished to the pit of hell.
But the fact that he has been hit with four separate criminal indictments this year raised a question that The Western Journal wanted to find an answer to: Staring down the potential of years in prison, could Trump purchase a gun at the moment?
Images that went viral on X, formerly Twitter, on Monday, appeared to show Trump purchasing a Glock pistol while on the campaign trail in South Carolina.
HOW COOL?! Donald J. Trump just purchased a Glock in South Carolina. I love this President!! pic.twitter.com/HYaHO82myx
— Brigitte Gabriel (@ACTBrigitte) September 25, 2023
Images resulted in a slight controversy — given Trump’s legal issues — as well as a correction from Trump’s campaign, which told Henry Rodgers of The Daily Caller that Trump had made no such purchase.
NEWS: A Trump spokesperson clarified to me just now that Trump SAID he wants to buy one of the guns. He did not actually purchase one today. @DailyCaller https://t.co/mCtvamQStZ
— Henry Rodgers (@henryrodgersdc) September 25, 2023
Immediate questions were raised about the legalities of Trump in relation to buying a gun. On Tuesday, The Western Journal sought to find the answers.
Should former President Donald Trump be able to purchase a firearm?
Yes: 93% (13 Votes)
No: 7% (1 Votes)
For the sake of argument, let’s say Trump was suddenly without Secret Service protection. Could the man who led the country and its military from 2017 until 2021 — and might again from 2025 until 2029 — walk into a store today, select a firearm and purchase it?
Trump hasn’t been convicted of any crimes. His prosecutors’ motives are each questionable, if not overtly and transparently political.
Still, could Trump pass a National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) FBI background check?
The answer was more complicated to nail down than we initially imagined. Again, Trump is not a felon, he does not use illegal drugs, he’s a U.S. citizen and he has never been convicted of stalking or domestic violence.
Those are all questions the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives would ask him if he requested a background check by the FBI on the ATF Form 4473 — which all people must fill out when trying to legally purchase a firearm from a licensed gun dealer.
But there is another question the form asks, which does apply to the former president.
Question 21 C on the form reads:
“Are you under indictment or information in any court for a felony, or any other crime for which the judge could imprison you for more than one year?”
Trump is facing serious felony charges, and prosecutors in each case would like to lock him up and throw away the key. Given the question on the ATF form and Trump’s legal circumstances, it would seem as though the former commander-in-chief would be denied.
But in order to get to the bottom of it, The Western Journal spoke to a number of experts on the matter. We asked a gun store owner in Tulsa, Oklahoma, about Trump’s legal pickle, the NICS system and what might become of a background check in which an applicant in Trump’s shoes answered that ATF’s question truthfully.
“Looking at the question, I don’t know he would get a straight denial,” the person said, adding, “My guess is they’d put him on a hold as long as they could and then he’d get a call from us in a week and he’d pick [his gun] up by default.”
When purchasing a firearm, prospective gun buyers who fill out the form face one of three outcomes as the FBI evaluates them.
Most people get either an approval or a denial. An approval means they can pay for their gun and leave with it. If they get a denial, the attempted transaction ends there.
But in some states such as Oklahoma, when someone is put on a delay, the FBI has three business days to either approve of or deny the sale.
If the bureau does not issue a denial within that period of time, then the delayed buyer is cleared to purchase the gun by default, at the discretion of the seller.
The man who spoke to us said in that event, he would make a judgment call and sell the gun to Trump. The man did not wish for his name or business to be published and he expressed a fear of being audited by the federal government.
Three other gun sellers in Tulsa, which the ATF refers to as Federal Firearms Licensees, were each interested in our question regarding Trump and the hypothetical gun purchase.
But each told us they preferred not to answer the question, while one of them expressed a clear disdain for all reporters, even this one.
No offense was taken.
Another Oklahoma gun store owner was willing to answer our question. He, too, wished to remain anonymous, and also peculiarly expressed anxiety about investigators sticking their noses in his business.
The man said he does not believe Trump would get approval from the FBI to buy a gun.
“I guess if the fed or feds behind the check were on Team Trump, he might be pushed through,” the man said. “But my instincts say he’s not getting the gun by answering the [ATF form] honestly.”
The fact that two separate gun sellers in one state expressed fears of a federal audit briefly paused our investigation.
Why were these honest people so afraid of an audit of their businesses?
The answer was found in The Wall Street Journal, which reported in August that 122 gun sellers during Fiscal Year 2023 have had their licenses pulled by the ATF under the Biden administration.
According to the report, “paperwork errors” were mostly blamed for the targeting of gun sellers. One person told the Wall Street Journal the sudden crackdown is a “backdoor violation of the Second Amendment.”
That would certainly explain the hesitancy of gun sellers to have their names and businesses published, and we understood that.
But after speaking to multiple people who sell guns daily, our question about Trump’s prospects for securing a legal firearm remained unanswered.
We went to both the National Rifle Association and the National Shooting Sports Foundation with our question.
The NRA did not get back to us by the time of publication, while the NSSF referred us to the ATF, so we left a message for that agency.
We tried a new approach when I asked a clerk at another gun store what he believed would happen if I filled out the ATF form and answered that I had been indicted for racketeering, which Trump is charged with in Georgia.
“Do you think I would be approved?” I asked.
“You’re going to get a denial,” the man said without hesitation.
We finally spoke to someone willing to go on the record — a particularly jovial man named Jeff Harris who owns a gun store called Friendly Firearms in Panama City Beach, Florida — Trump’s state of residency. We asked him whether he thought Trump would get a denial if he answered the ATF’s question on the indictments honestly.
Harris told The Western Journal, “If [Trump] checked ‘yes,’ it would put a hold on the background check, just based on that answer. It would result in a red flag that would put him into a pending status.”
Asked if he believed the bureau would ultimately deny Trump his right to buy a gun, Harris said, “Short answer is yeah, I believe it would deny him.”
“I do believe [the unresolved indictments] would prevent him from buying [a firearm],” said Harris, who added he is a supporter of the former president.
Harris’s response was helpful, but it was beginning to feel as though we might conclude our investigation without a clear-cut answer. But an ATF agent from the Tulsa field office responded to us via a phone call and our question was finally answered.
We spoke with Resident Agent in Charge Ashley Stephens and asked him about Trump’s indictments and how a hypothetical attempt by him to purchase a firearm might go.
Given Trump’s legal woes, could he purchase a gun today? we asked.
“He wouldn’t pass a background check,” the agent said politely, citing question 21C on his agency’s background check form. “That would automatically disqualify him.”
“The C, that would be under indictment,” Stephens further explained. “When you are under indictment, you cannot acquire any firearms, but [Trump] could keep an existing one.”
In addition to being prevented from purchasing a new firearm, Stephens said Trump is also barred from purchasing any ammunition for any existing weapons he owns.
After a day of investigating a simple question, we finally had an answer.
Trump, who commanded the world’s strongest military force just 32 months ago, cannot currently walk into a gun store and purchase a firearm. Even more surprisingly, he can’t legally buy ammunition for weapons he has previously stated he owns.
Trump’s Second Amendment rights were essentially suspended the moment Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg filed questionable business-related charges against him in April.
Trump was later indicted twice by the Justice Department, and again in Georgia by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.
While many Americans rightly feel these indictments are political in nature, under current federal law, Trump has been stripped of his ability to exercise his Constitutional rights.
Trump’s legal issues are unresolved and are likely to remain that way for some time.
But the moment charges were filed against him in New York, the former president lost his ability to buy a gun anywhere in America — for now.
A case that is challenging the very federal statute that prevents people who have merely been indicted, but not convicted, of a crime from purchasing a gun is working its way through the court system.
Author: Johnathan Jones