The Nassau County Friends of the National Rifle Association (NRA) will be holding a dinner auction and fundraising event at The Inn at New Hyde Park on Thursday, Sept. 27, much to the displeasure of Roslyn area politicians and nearby residents.
Rep. Tom Suozzi, who represents the Roslyn area in Congress, recently joined Long Island moms in demanding that the NRA cancel their planned event.
“Children have been murdered in their schools throughout our country. The NRA has refused to back any new, creative ways to curb gun violence and continues to hold many of my colleagues hostage to the status quo,” said Suozzi in a statement. “Mothers have demanded that the NRA not hold this antagonistic sideshow, with guns and ammo as enticements, in one of our neighborhoods. I stand with these moms and call on the NRA to cancel this event, which will cause even more anxiety to our children and families.”
Suozzi was joined in opposition by Assemblyman Charles Lavine.
“Those of us who love our children more than the ‘gundamentalists’ love their little guns must take a stand against the National Rifle Association, the largest single obstacle to the passage of common sense weapons legislation,” Lavine wrote in a letter to Anton Media Group. “Sadly, too many of my legislative colleagues collude with the NRA. So deep are they in the NRA’s pocket that you won’t be able to find them without having to brush aside copper pennies and ancient lint.”
Some of the guns that will be auctioned off at the dinner include a .410 Gauge Henry Lever Action Shotgun and a .22LR Crickett Precision Rifle among other weapons. According to the event flyer, the net proceeds of the fundraiser would only benefit shooting sports programs in local communities.
Not everyone is displeased about the fundraiser coming to the island. James Toner, an attorney in Mineola, believes that the backlash the NRA has received about their fundraiser is a sustained attack on the freedoms that are guaranteed by the Constitution, but more importantly, the second amendment.
“Whether you agree or disagree with them [the NRA], what they’re advocating is a right that exists in the Constitution and a right that has been supported by the Supreme Court over and over again,” said Toner. “It is ironic that Congressman Suozzi had taken an oath to support and defend the Constitution but yet would attempt to suppress the NRA’s freedom of speech and peaceful assembly under the first amendment to further a political agenda.”
During the evening, Assemblyman Anthony D’Urso, who represents the Roslyn area in Albany, will moderate a gun sense forum at the Great Neck Library, which will address gun sense and gun safety. The forum will be hosted by Moms Demand Action and North Shore Action.
“While I affirm a citizen’s right to own a gun, we need to have stronger and stricter laws to prevent violent incidents involving gun shootings,” said D’Urso. “I have sponsored and co-sponsored 10 bills to protect us from gun violence, including amending the penal law to prohibit the possession, manufacture, transport and disposition of trigger modification devices and establishing the Safe Homes Act and the Children’s Weapon Accident Prevention Act, which makes it a serious crime for failing to store a weapon safely. The NRA is not welcome here.”
Because the topic of gun violence and gun control are sensitive subjects no matter what aisle you politically stand on, protests are expected to occur during the evening.
“Standing against the NRA continues our social justice mission against gun violence and push for common sense gun regulations,” said Pastor David Collins of the United Methodist Church of Port Washington, who was the host organization and site for the March for Our Lives event in Port Washington earlier this year. “We have several people from various organizations on Long Island not affiliated with the church who are reaching out to our elected officials and candidates from the town level to the state seeking their condemnation of the Friends of the NRA event at The Inn.”
Collins said he hopes to have a physical presence outside of The Inn before the planned event to show The Inn and the NRA that the community stands against the current values of the NRA.
“We, especially myself, want to be sure that anything done is done properly and professionally. There are groups that are not ideologically aligned with an appropriate approach. Primarily, I want to be sure we do no harm so nothing but good can come from this,” said Collins. “My passion is bringing these issues to our congregation and getting them involved as a house of worship, and also engaging other churches and synagogues in our community to stand together as people of faith.”
On their Facebook page, The Inn at New Hyde Park said in a statement that they “will not discriminate against any lawful activity that is brought to us. This event is being put on by members of our local community and we welcome them as [we] would welcome anyone from our community.”
The Inn said that it was to their understanding that the NRA fundraiser cannot be a political event since funding goes only to charitable causes. The post concluded with, “it is against the law to discriminate and our lawmakers know this very well. We will not be intimidated or urged to break the law.”
Anton Media Group reached out to the NRA for comment but has not heard back.