ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- A raffle definitely would have brought in money. Same for a breakfast fundraiser -- like maybe eggs, bacon and biscuits at $25 a plate.
But for the Asheville Tea Party Political Action Committee, nothing quite says true American like the chance to blast a couple dozen rounds from an Uzi.
People showing up for the group's "Machine Gun Social" on Sept. 29 will get to do just that while raising money to support candidates endorsed by the group in the November election, Chairwoman Jane Bilello said.
"It's a lot of fun," Bilello said. "It's a really cool thing to do. Our folks love it."
For $25, attendees can shoot a 30-round clip from a 9mm submachine gun such as an HK MP5 or Uzi, while $35 pays for use of an M16 and $50 gets the firepower of an AK-47.
"I've never heard of anything like this," said Chris Cooper, a political science professor at Western Carolina University. "I guess it's not that big of a surprise. Different tea party chapters vary a good bit, but I think most are united in their belief about the economy and the problems of gun control."
Cooper predicts the fundraiser will be a success.
"Clearly it will get media coverage, and I think it's the kind of thing that will play well to the tea party base," he said. "The tea party has not made a secret of its support for gun rights and its critique of gun control."
Bilello said that besides raising money, the event is intended to show the group's support for gun rights. She dismissed the notion it could be seen as insensitive in light of recent mass shootings like the one that claimed the lives of 12 people inside a Colorado movie theater during a screening of the new "Batman" movie.
If someone in the theater had been armed, James Holmes might have been stopped sooner, she said.
"Our founders wanted to make sure we could protect ourselves," Bilello said.
Henry Mitchell, chairman of the Buncombe County Republican Party, said his group is more inclined to sell raffle tickets to raise contributions for its candidates.
"I guess that's a different way to raise money," he said of the tea party approach. "We're trying to raise money in more traditional ways. I wish them luck with it. Hopefully they get their message out."
Ron Kaufman, chairman of the Henderson County Tea Party, said he can understand the appeal of the Asheville group's approach with some voters.
"I wouldn't have thought of that in a million years," he said. "(A machine gun) is illegal to own, so pulling the trigger on one of those is a thrill ride. It's something that is way out of the ordinary."
Bilello said her group held the same event this past April and it attracted about 35 people and raised more than $1,000. She said the idea came from the National Rifle Association, which holds similar fundraisers.
"We have a grand old time," she said. "It's done is a safe environment. People love to come."