FACT CHECK: Is Donald Trump Unable To Purchase Firearms Due To His Felony Indictments?

Elias Atienza | Senior Reporter

Multiple social media posts claim that former President Donald Trump is prevented from purchasing firearms due to federal law.

Verdict: True

Trump is prevented from purchasing firearms due to federal law. A Trump spokesperson clarified to media outlets that Trump did not purchase the firearm.

Fact Check:

Trump spokesman Steven Cheung claimed in a Sept. 25 tweet that Trump bought a gun in South Carolina, according to Insider. Cheung later deleted the tweet, the outlet reported.

Social media users are claiming that Trump is unable to purchase a firearm due to federal law. One post said, “So Trump bought a gun today….He just violated a federal law.”

The claim that Trump cannot buy a firearm due to federal law appears to be true. The Bureau of Alcohol and Tobacco and Firearms said on its website that a “person who is under indictment or information for a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding 1 year cannot lawfully ship, transport, or receive a firearm or ammunition.”

Trump is currently facing several felony charges that can result in years of prison if he is convicted, according to Politico.  Gun law experts said that Trump is unable to purchase firearms due to his felony indictments under 18 USC §922(n).

“18 USC §922(n) prohibits anyone who is under indictment for a crime punishable for greater than one year from “receiving” a firearm. (Though they can still possess one that they already owned before getting indicted,” Clark Neily, the senior vice president of legal studies at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, told Check Your Fact in an email.

Stephen Gutowski, the founder of the gun policy website theReload.com, told Check Your Fact that a person “currently under felony indictment can not ‘receive’ firearms under federal law. The prohibition is found in 18 U.S.C. § 922(n).” (RELATED: Did South Carolina Only Transport 25 People To The DMV After Voter ID Law Was Passed?)

A federal judge ruled that the law preventing felony defendants from purchasing firearms was unconstitutional in September 2022, according to the Associated Press. Neily said that the decision could be “a viable argument that a defendant could raise if charged under that provision.”

“But as of now it’s still on the books and has not been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court or by any federal court of appeals with the authority to bind other lower courts,” Neily said.

David Kopel, Research Director at the Independence Institute, echoed Neily, saying, “some U.S. District Courts (trial-level) have found 922(n) to be unconstitutional. But these are only a few cases, and none of them in South Carolina.” Gutowski said “the law remains in effect as of now.”

“A federal judge in Texas found it unconstitutional last year and the Fifth Circuit is currently deciding that case on appeal. However, the law remains in effect as of now,” Gutowski said.

A Trump campaign spokesperson later clarified to the Daily Caller and CNN that Trump did not purchase a firearm. Check Your Fact reached out to Cheung for comment.

Elias Atienza

Senior Reporter
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