Trump visited gun store that sold weapon to racist mass shooter in Jacksonville

Donald Trump boasted of buying a weapon from Palmetto State Armory before backtracking less than one month after deadly shooting

Bevan Hurley
Tuesday 26 September 2023 15:34 BST
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Donald Trump tours gun shop in South Carolina

Donald Trump visited a South Carolina gun store where a racist mass murderer who killed three people in a mass shooting at a Dollar General in Jacksonville bought at least one of his weapons.

The former president on Monday toured the Palmetto State Armory store in Summerville, where authorities say Ryan Palmeter purchased an AR-15 assault rifle that he used to shoot dead three Black people almost exactly one month earlier on 26 August.

Mr Trump posed with a Glock handgun with his face engraved on the grip, and was heard bragging “I want one” in a video posted to social media by his campaign manager Steven Cheung.

Mr Cheung wrote in a since-deleted post on X that Mr Trump had purchased the gun, before backtracking after the Trump campaign was informed by media that it would be a felony to purchase a firearm while under criminal indictment.

Mr Trump, who is facing 91 counts across four separate criminal indictments, toured the store with South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson and Georgia congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene.

“These are actually great sellers for us, they come like this from Glock,” a store owner is heard telling Mr Trump in the video as they examine the gold-plated handgun with “Trump 45” inscribed on the barrel and the ex-president’s face on the grip.

Donald Trump poses with South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, right, at a gun store in South Carolina on 25 September.
Donald Trump poses with South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, right, at a gun store in South Carolina on 25 September. (Steven Cheung/Donald Trump campaign)

“Wow, and they sell a lot. They like me,” Mr Trump replies.

Federal statutes prohibit firearm sales to any person who is under felony indictment, and lying on a transaction form to determine eligibility could also include additional criminal charges.

Mr Cheung later clarified that Mr Trump had not purchased the firearm.

Mr Trump later spoke at a campaign rally where he boasted he could design a better fighter jet than the military could, and attacked former South Carolina governor and GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley as a “birdbrain”.

Last month, authorities in Florida said that Ryan Palmeter armed himself with an AR-15-style rifle and a Glock handgun and wore a tactical vest and face mask to carry out the deadly shooting at the Jacksonville Dollar General store.

He was able to purchase the weapons legally, despite having been taken into state care after suffering a mental health episode, Jacksonville Sheriff TK Waters said.

A photo shared by the sheriff’s office showed a close-up of one of the guns with at least two swastikas marked on it.

The AR-15-style weapon had “Palmetto State Armory” and “PA-15” engraved on it, with the manufacturer’s website describing the PA-15 model as “our interpretation of the legendary AR-15 rifle that you have grown to love”.

The Independent has sought comment from Palmetto State Armory.

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