A group called ‘Boots on the Ground Bikers for Trump’ recently gave Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) a custom-printed Glock 22 handgun with the congressional seal on the grip, according to Salon — which is likely an illegal gift.
Boebert now says she does not currently have possession of the gun, perhaps because it's a violation of House ethics rules for members to accept gifts worth more than $50. Furthermore, unauthorized use of the official seal of the U.S. Congress seal is a federal crime.
Video posted to Facebook on Sunday shows group member Duke Everest presenting the gun to the freshman conservative at a private event in a Colorado living room with about two dozen people in attendance. He explains that Boebert, who has made a show of flouting gun regulations in Washington, D.C., and within the U.S. Capitol, earned the gift by doing "exactly what we asked you to do."
Everest's Facebook post included the video and a series of photos. "It's been a little works in the making but we finally got to give Lauren her gun tonight. Colorado Chapter — Boots on the Ground — Bikers for Trump put together a Glock 22 for our Freedom Fighter," he wrote, tagging Boebert's Facebook account. "Love you all!"
The video also shows Everest giving Boebert a custom-printed magazine and a box of bullets, which he describes as “freedom seeds.”
Salon explains the potential illegality of the gift:
House ethics rules bar members and staff from accepting gifts valued at more than $50, and federal statutes make it a crime to use the congressional seal without authorization. Standard Glocks run between $500 and $600, and magazines can typically range from between $20 and $50.
When the publication inquired with Boebert on Monday, the Colorado Republican told Salon: "Who said I accepted it? You saw a presentation."
Boebert “would not say whether she refused, returned or did not accept the gift, replying: ‘I didn't leave with it. You're grasping at air here.’"
Government ethics attorney Brett Kappel told Salon that the issue of lawmakers accepting guns as gifts has already been settled. Gifts worth more than $50 are not permitted, with an exception “for commemorative items, like trophies or plaques inscribed with the member's name,” Salon reported.
"That's the exception they may be trying to use here," Kappel said. "Unfortunately, the House ethics rules say that this exception does not apply to items that have 'significant utilitarian value' — such as a working firearm — even if it is inscribed with the member's name and presented to her in a special box for display."
Kappel said that Congress has already addressed this question, specifically with firearms. "Both the House and Senate Ethics Committees have dealt with this issue before, when the NRA tried to give guns to members by placing them on display racks and calling them commemorative items," he said. "The Ethics Committees said no dice, unless the rifle was permanently affixed to a plaque and could not be removed for use."
Kappel said Boebert could keep the gun if she pays the owner fair market value for it.
In a later text, Boebert cited this loophole: "I do not have possession of the firearm. I may purchase it from the current owner in the future. That has not yet been determined." Asked who that current owner was, Boebert replied, "I'm not telling you or anyone."