Derrick Hughes and his team will do whatever it takes to sell trucks and cars during the slow months of deer hunting season, so they're giving away guns along with Bibles and flags at their Ford dealership in tiny Honea Path, S.C.
"It's crazy," Hughes told the Detroit Free Press on Wednesday. "We've had multiple people take advantage of the promotion. You don't need to buy a $50,000 truck. It's for anything on our lot, used or new. We've sold Ecosport, Escape, new F-150s, used F-250s, a couple Dodge trucks."
The idea came from staff brainstorming how to generate shopper traffic during October and November, which are just crickets at the dealership, Hughes explained. Carolina Ford's "God Guns and America!" campaign started Oct. 1 and runs through November.
Hughes, a 38-year-old hunter himself, said the Smith & Wesson AR rifle that's included with any vehicle purchase, pending a background check, is great for shooting wild hogs, which infest the region and destroy property.
"We are not taking a political stance in any way, shape or form," he told WYFF News 4, the NBC affiliate in Greenville earlier this week. "We are all country folk, God-fearing people. We are very patriotic people, believe in our country and salute our military."
Since most hunters already own shotguns, and many others own pistols for self defense, the lightweight AR 99 rifle seemed like the next best idea. Please, Hughes noted, people need to understand that "AR does not stand for assault rifle."
The latest gun giveaway comes nearly four months after a Ford dealer in Alabama said Ford asked him to end a shotgun giveaway after three people died during a shooting at a Ford dealership in the San Francisco Bay Area.
"So it's done. They've ended our promotion. I'm very disappointed," Colin Ward, general manager of Chatom Ford in Chatom, Alabama, said in June 2019. "Ford said we can fulfill our commitments to the customers that we've made up till now, but we have to cease it going forward."
Chatom Ford's advertising offered a shotgun, a Bible and an American flag with a car purchase. The offer drew hundreds of calls from across the country, including Michigan, from people wanting to buy cars to get the shotgun.
Since June, Americans have again debated gun policy as a result of mass shootings in Odessa, Texas, that left seven dead; Dayton, Ohio, with nine dead; and El Paso, Texas, with 22 people killed.