A planned fundraiser for the Nassau chapter of the Friends of the NRA in New Hyde Park has set off protests for the second year in a row.
The event will be held at the Inn at New Hyde Park on Jericho Turnpike on Sept. 19. According to a flyer from the group, the event, meant to celebrate a “legacy” of shooting sports traditions, will feature dinner, raffles and auctions, with attendees given chances to win guns, gear, decor and collectibles.
“While reasonable people across this country are looking for common-sense solutions to reduce the number of guns on our streets, the Nassau County Friends of the NRA plan on giving them away at their upcoming fundraiser in New Hyde Park,” state Sen. Anna Kaplan (D-Great Neck) said.
Kaplan went on to say, “I look forward to standing in solidarity with Long Islanders who’ve had enough of the NRA and their backwards agenda, as we protest the event on September 19th at the Inn at New Hyde Park.”
“I will also be taking the opportunity to announce further legislative action in the New York State Senate to address the epidemic of gun violence that is plaguing our great country, because this issue demands action, and New York is leading the way,” Kaplan said.
Representatives from the Inn at New Hyde Park did not respond to written requests for comment.
U.S. Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) did not respond to a request for comment.
Nassau County Legislature Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) was not immediately available for comment.
According to the Friends of NRA flyer, among the prizes at the event will be the 2019 gun of the year set, a Sig Sauer P210 American Standard 9 mm pistol, decked out with a Friends of NRA decal. Other prizes include a Kimber Micro 9 mm with an NRA logo, a Henry single shot brass .45-70 with an NRA logo, and Mossberg 500 Pump-Action 12-gauge shotgun combo.
A single dinner ticket costs $65, with a table for 10 costing $600. A table named the “Charlton Heston table” for 10 people costs $2,000.
Efforts to reach the Nassau chapter of the Friends of the NRA were unavailing.
Ellie Musmeci, a spokeswoman for L.I. for Gun Safety, said in an interview that a protest will occur on the day of the fundraiser as opposed to every day during the week before the event last year.
Musmeci said her organization, along with activist group Together We Will L.I., will protest on the day of the event starting at 5 p.m.
“It’s not about taking your guns,” Musmeci said, but sensible gun regulations.
The fundraiser’s return became public after state Sen. Jim Gaughran (D-Northport) tweeted an Aug. 20 letter addressed to Frank Marino, owner of the Inn of New Hyde Park, on Aug. 22.
“Last year I stood with activists to ask The Inn at New Hyde Park to reconsider hosting the [National Rifle Association] annual fundraiser. We were told it was too late for them to cancel the event,” Gaughran said in a tweet. “What I can’t understand then, is why The Inn is hosting them again this year.”
Gaughran’s letter said that the country is “in the midst of a gun violence epidemic” and that organizations like the NRA are ignoring “pain, suffering and loss” caused by gun violence.
“We must stand firmly united against the NRA’s blanket refusal to support common-sense gun safety reforms,” Gaughran wrote.
While Marino did not respond to the letter, representatives of the Friends of the NRA called Gaughran’s office criticizing Gaughran over his comments, according to Gaughran’s spokeswoman, Marissa Espinoza.
According to an article on the Patch news site, Laurence Dittmer, a former member of the Nassau County Friends of NRA, responded to Gaughran’s remarks in an email to Patch, saying that last year’s fundraiser was filled nearly to capacity, with nearly 600 people attending. The event drew only a few protestors outside, he said.
According to an August study published by the Pew Research Center based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention research, in 2017, the most recent year for which complete data is available, 39,773 people died from gun-related injuries in the United States.
Six of 10 gun-related deaths were suicides (23,854), while 37 percent were murders (14,542), according to the CDC. The remaining were unintentional (486), involved law enforcement (553) or had undetermined circumstances (338).
The study found that gun suicide and murder rates have “edged higher” after declining in the late 1990s.
On a per-capita basis, according to the Pew Research Center study, there were 12 gun deaths per 100,000 people in 2017 – the highest rate in more than two decades, but still well below the 16.3 gun deaths per 100,000 people in 1974, the highest rate in the CDC’s online database.