The Loud Racist Messaging Behind Trump's Aborted Gun Purchase

The Loud Racist Messaging Behind Trump's Aborted Gun Purchase

Candidate Trump’s stop at a gun store in South Carolina on Monday wasn’t just an offhand visit: His eight-SUV convoy doesn’t do anything without advance planning days or even weeks ahead of any event Trump attends or location he visits. He made a decision to stop at Palmetto State Armory in Summerville, South Carolina, because he knew that that specific gun store was where the racist shooter in Jacksonville, Florida bought the guns he used to kill three Black people at a Dollar General store in late August. On the receiver of one gun, the killer had painted a swastika right next to the engraved name of the store where he bought it, Palmetto State Armory. It’s just one month after the killings occurred. Memories are strong, and emotions in the Black community are still raw.

Trump knew this. And he also knew that memories of his racist base voters are just as strong, and their racist emotions are just as raw, waiting for him to signal that he’s with them. So, there he stood in Palmetto State Armory, handling a special edition Glock with his name and likeness engraved into the plastic handle and slide of the gun.

Palmetto State Armory is well known among gun people for its connections to the racist Boogaloo Boys. Palmetto State Armory sold guns emblazoned with the symbol of the Boogaloo Boys, a snarling Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, along with the signature Hawaiian shirts favored by the racist group and armored vests featuring Boogaloo symbols. The Boogaloo movement grew out of meetups on 4Chan of right-wing racist “prepper” groups, posting memes about the Civil War they foresee. The acronym “WTSHTF” is used by Boogaloo Boys and others for When The Shit Hits The Fan, a moment they believe will happen when Black people start a Civil War against white people.

I’m not going to go further into the origins or actions of the Boogaloo Boys, except for noting that the five men convicted of conspiring to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer were members, and there were Boogaloo Boys in the crowd in 2018 at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville at the so-called Unite the Right rally that ended up costing a young woman her life. Trump infamously signaled that he stood with the racists when he said there were “good people on both sides” at the rally.

None of this stuff Trump does is accidental. It’s all calculated, choreographed, and presented right out in the open so photos can be taken and news cameras can record Trump openly endorsing racists by going to places they recognize, like a racist gun store in South Carolina, and doing things they favor, like stating that he wanted to buy the Palmetto State Armory custom Glock he was fondling.

There is a huge ecosystem of racists out there. Estimates of Trump supporters have put the number of outright racists among them at 25 percent. They are Trump voters. He knows this like he knows his own name – although by the time New York Attorney General Letitia James is finished with him, he might not own it anymore. Trump could have gone to a gun store in any state – in his home state of New York, even. He could have gone to a gun store in Iowa, where he is running hard in the nation’s first primary, or in New Hampshire, long a state with a history of gun manufacturing. The Ruger gun company was headquartered there before moving to the more gun-friendly south.

Ronald Reagan could have gone anywhere in America to launch his 1980 presidential campaign, but he went to Philadelphia, Mississippi, where three civil rights workers were murdered in 1964 for the crime of attempting to register Black people to vote. Reagan knew exactly what he was doing. He knew he couldn’t win the presidency without carrying the deep South, so he went to the town in Mississippi that was, and is, the beating heart of racism in the south, and he stood there and showed them that he was with them.

Donald Trump went to the one gun store in the nation associated specifically with a mass-killing of Black people. Trump knew that the murder of those Black people at the Dollar General happened just one month ago. The mainstream media focused their stories about Trump’s stop at the Palmetto Armory gun store on whether it would be legal for him as a resident of Florida to buy a gun in South Carolina, completely missing the message he was sending to his racist base.

Trump isn’t just dog-whistling, he is explicitly showing and telling racists that he is one of them, and it is time the mainstream media started listening to him and reporting the truth of what he does and says.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Please consider subscribing to Lucian Truscott Newsletter, from which this is reprinted with permission.


Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Moms For Libertine! And Why We Will Never Run Out Of Pious Frauds

Bridget Ziegler

It’s gotten to where it’s almost axiomatic in American politics: Show me somebody who gets TV face-time railing against others’ sexual sins, and I’ll show you somebody hiding naughty secrets. The latest example is an amusing scandal involving “Moms for Liberty,” the Florida-based right-wing organization that made its name by publicizing what this column described as “queers under the bed and the preposterous idea that the nation’s public-school librarians and grade-school teachers are plotting the sexual subversion of small children.”

Keep reading...Show less
Donald Trump
Photo by The White House

The latest ad from The Lincoln Project is titled “Feeble,” and it strings together a collection of Donald Trump’s “greatest hits” when it comes to stumbling over words, lurching around the podium, and repeatedly forgetting that Barack Obama is no longer president. While showcasing Trump’s two-handed efforts to sip from a water bottle and his running into the backdrop of a rally stage, the narrator asks questions like “Are you sure you don’t have dementia?” She also whispers that “[i]t runs in the family.”

Keep reading...Show less
{{ }}