Donald Trump’s son has dismissed criticism he received for posting an image of himself holding an assault rifle featuring a crusader symbol.
The AR-15’s magazine sported a medieval helmet with a Jerusalem Cross that was the symbol of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, established in the 11th century after the city was seized from its Muslim rulers.
The rifle also had an image of Hilary Clinton behind bars – a reference to his father’s claims that his presidential rival should have gone to prison over her use of a private email server.
“Nice day at the range,” Donald Trump Jr. wrote on the Instagram post on Sunday, before thanking firearm firms for “adding a little extra awesome” to his assault rifle and magazine.
The timing of his post came amid the risk of further military confrontations with Iran and its allies in the Middle East after the US killed Iran’s most powerful military commander in a drone strike near Baghdad airport.
But according to his spokesman, Trump Jr. had not timed the image to coincide with the latest turmoil in the region.
“Anyone claiming that the Jerusalem Cross is some sort of political statement, couldn’t be more ignorant,” the spokesman said. “Symbols depicting different warriors are about as common in gun culture as hating President Trump is in the oped pages of the New York Times.”
The US president’s eldest son had come under fire for the imagery from some quarters.
British historian Dan Jones told the Washington Post: “At a time when tensions in the Middle East are running high, it’s an inflammatory time to run around with a gun with a crusader image on it.”
But that is unlikely to bother many of Trump Jr.’s 2.2 million Instagram followers.
A poll last week found 29 percent of Republican voters would consider voting for him in 2024.
Trump Jr. is a keen gun enthusiast and hunter. Since his father entered the White House, he and his brother Eric have run the Trump Organization.