Donald Trump couldn’t have picked a more perfect gun shop to stop the election campaign.
The Palmetto State Armory retail store in Summerville, South Carolina, didn’t just have a Glock semi-automatic pistol with his name and likeness inscribed on it.
The company itself has a history of exploiting the crazy core of Trumpism: riots, racial tensions and disregard for democracy.
Palmetto State Armory manufactured the assault rifle that a racist gunman decorated with two white swastikas before using it to murder three black men at a Dollar General store in Jacksonville, Florida, late last month. But that could just as easily have been Smith & Wesson or Bushmaster or Daniel Defense.
Only Palmetto State Armory has a full line of assault weapons painted in the style of a Hawaiian shirt, the unofficial uniform of the Boogaloo Boys, a militant movement calling for the violent overthrow of the federal government while sparking a racist civil war.
The company marketed these weapons as “the finest AK-47s made in America” with a “Big Igloo Aloha finish.” In the parlance of the Boogaloo movement, “Big Igloo” and “Big Luau” are slang terms for the Second Civil War. The Boogaloo Boys took part in the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol and also played a role in a 2020 plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
In June 2020, another Boogaloo Boy fatally shot two sheriff’s deputies in Santa Cruz. The killer wrote “Boo” in blood on the hood of a car. That same month, a trio of alleged Boogaloo Boys were arrested in Las Vegas with assault rifles and explosives, allegedly on their way to a protest against George Floyd.
Also this month, another suspected Boogaloo Boy murdered a federal security guard and got into a shootout with police in Oakland, California. He wore a patch that combined an American flag and an igloo on a Hawaiian background. He is now serving a 41-year prison sentence.
For a time, the Palmetto company also offered “lower receivers” for assault rifles — the core assembly — with stenciled Trump slogans like “Build the Wall” and “Let’s Go Brandon.” One bore the words that Rep. Joe Wilson shouted from the House of Representatives during President Obama’s 2009 State of the Union address: “You’re lying!”
“Only 999 of these will be produced, get your copy before it’s gone!” The company said in announcing this new custom line “in honor of our esteemed Congressman Joe Wilson.”
In a Trump oversight, the Palmetto State Armory failed to mention that Wilson’s son, Julian Wilson, is one of three partners in JJE Capital Holdings, the private equity firm that owns the company.
The House of Representatives then voted to censure Wilson. He came to reconsider his violation of congressional decorum but made no mention of his son’s ownership stake when he released a letter to Palmetto State Armory President Jamin McCallum.
“Thank you for quickly ceasing sales of the product using my words,” Joe Wilson wrote to Julian’s partner Wilson, as if there was no context.
The younger Wilson was present at the Palmetto State Armory retail store in Summerville on Sunday. He stood next to McCallum and witnessed Trump’s excitement when he saw a gun with his likeness on it.
“Oh, I like that,” Trump said. “Wow.”
Then he said, “I want to buy one.”
But federal law prohibits anyone under indictment from purchasing a firearm, and Trump has left the perfect gun store without the gun.
Yet he has left this bastion of Trumpism with what he always seeks and what he hopes will blind the majority of us enough to see him rise to power again.
“You like me,” he said.