Former President Donald Trump recently gave a glimpse into how his next administration would urge law enforcement to handle shoplifters if he wins the White House in 2024 − by shooting them in the store.
"We will immediately stop all of the pillaging and theft. Very simply: If you rob a store, you can fully expect to be shot as you are leaving that store," he said Friday during a speech to California Republicans.
His comments drew applause from members of his party inside the Anaheim convention and he loudly said “shot” again for emphasis.
Trump's remarks came as he is facing seven lawsuits, including four criminal indictments in which he has denied any wrongdoing. He has tried to position himself as a candidate who favors law and order and would be tough on crime.
But these words were his most provocative in calling for the crime of retail theft to be punished with being shot. His words on shoplifters also came days after he called for Army Gen. Mark Milley − one of the top military officers in his administration − to be executed for what Trump described as treasonous phone calls to China and Milley described as a routine part of his job.
Trump calling on shoplifters to be shot also comes after he admired a Glock during a South Carolina campaign stop and said he wanted to buy one. The latter led prosecutors to say he may have broken the law.
As the ex-president faces mounting legal pressure, his campaign rhetoric has grown more striking and has sometimes led to additional filings in legal cases. For example, former magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll asked for additional damages in her defamation lawsuit against Trump after his CNN town hall in June, during which he called her a "whack job" who told a "made-up story."
A jury in June assessed Trump $5 million in damages for sexual abuse and defamation, a verdict and damages that Trump appealed, and Carroll sought $5 million more after his comments on CNN.
But in Trump's comments in California, he was also playing to the room. Republicans in the state −and some Democrats − have lamented the rise in shoplifting and other crimes in San Francisco, Los Angeles and other areas. The GOP has been trying to use tough talk on crime to win back suburban voters after Trump and Trumpism lost them in 2018, 2020 and 2022 elections.
"The word that they shoot you will get out within minutes and our nation, in one day, will be an entirely different place," Trump said Friday of shooting shoplifters. "There must be retribution for theft and destruction and the ruination of our country."
While his California speech marked the first time the former president publicly called for shoplifters to be shot, it's not the first time he has recommended shooting or death for people who break the law.
Trump has also called for shooting migrants to try and deter them from crossing the border. As president, he allegedly asked his Defense Secretary Mark Esper about shooting people who were protesting the death of George Floyd, Esper has said in his book and interviews. Trump has also said drug dealers, human traffickers and anyone convicted of killing a police officer should face the death penalty.
Contributing: The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump calls for police to shoot shoplifters as they leave the store