A U.S. Senate candidate has scheduled long-gun rallies this weekend in Greenville, Spartanburg and Gaffney.
The first rally is at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Greenville County Courthouse. The other rallies are scheduled for noon at the Spartanburg County Courthouse and 2 p.m. at the Cherokee County Courthouse.
Bill Bledsoe, the candidate of the Constitution and Libertarian parties, said the demonstrations are designed to promote freedom and train residents and police departments on how to work together to protect their rights under the law.
"We're letting people know that we have a problem with government taking our rights," Bledsoe said. "And it's not just guns. Guns are just one of the visual rights that a lot of people are aware of, that the government's trying take our guns over and over. It's also our right to property ownership, and our right to freedom from searches, our right to a free economy. These are all being destroyed by the governments, state and federal."
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Bledsoe, a veterinarian in Spartanburg, plans to have a rally in every county in South Carolina. The rallies started in Pickens and Oconee counties last month and will end in Beaufort County.
Bledsoe said the turnouts so far have been small. But he believes it is important to "teach everyone how frail our freedoms are," according to his website.
Bledsoe said he communicates with police in advance of the rallies. As a courtesy to law enforcement, he asks attendees to keep their long guns shouldered, leave the breaches open, empty and without magazines.
"They make little bright blocks that you can put in there so the police know they're empty and the breach is open," Bledsoe said.
Those with concealed weapons permits are asked to conceal carry. People can also sign up for a rally to win an AR-15 and take a picture of selfie holding an actual American Revolution-era Brown Bess musket.
For information, go to electdrbill.com/march-to-the-sea.