Regardless of whether he becomes the state's next adjutant general, Dean Allen figures he's already made a unique mark in South Carolina politics.
"I became the first guy in history when I filed my financial statements the other day and listed the purchase of an AK-47 assault rifle as a campaign expenditure," he said, "and we're going to buy another one on Saturday."
Four weeks after Allen's first "machine gun social" proved a campaign and media hit, drawing almost 500 people to a Greenville gun shop and indoor range, Allen is coming to the Lowcountry on Saturday to squeeze off another round of fundraising.
He plans to hold his second machine gun social from noon to 4 p.m. at the ATP Gunshop & Range in Summerville.
The event is being promoted in part by a YouTube video that begins: "Spouse got you down? Tired of the stupidity coming from Washington? Having problems at work? Come try our method of stress relief," and then shows a video of a man firing off a machine gun.
Those attending Saturday's event will be charged $25 for barbecue, music and a 20-round clip to shoot (following a 10-minute safety lesson).
Attendees also may register at no cost to win a sweepstakes for an AK-47, provided they pass the required federal background check.
That proved challenging for the Greenville winner, whose background check raised a red flag that he is appealing. "If this guy ends up not qualifying, then we'll just give it to the next guy," Allen said.
The socials not only are a way to celebrate the right to bear arms and to get free publicity, but Allen said they also have a serious side.
"If I can take civilians, a lot of whom were ladies and teenage kids, and give them a 10-minute safety briefing and have a safety person standing beside them and having them firing machine guns for 10 minutes and nobody gets hurt and nobody breaks any laws and everybody has got a big smile on their face, then obviously we can train the state guard to use weapons," he said.
"If they had those weapons in case of an emergency like a hurricane or something, (then) they are better prepared to assist law enforcement and protect lives and property of people in South Carolina. ... I think an unarmed soldier is like a truck driver with no truck."
Col. Peter J. Brooks, the S.C. National Guard's director of public affairs and community support, said under the state constitution, the state guard's role is to support the National Guard.
"I'm not aware of any states that would arm their state guard because they're a group of volunteers that are there to assist in a time of need," he said.
While there is not a Democratic candidate in the adjutant general race so far, S.C. Democratic Party Chairwoman Carol Fowler said there eventually will be. She acknowledged Allen's fundraising event is creative, adding, "We hope no one gets shot."
Allen said he takes heart from an online poll in which more than 21,600 voted and 61 percent said the social was fine by them. Thirty-four percent found it disturbing, while 5 percent had mixed feelings.
S.C. Adjutant General Stan Spears, 72, has not indicated if he will run again, but filing doesn't open until March.