The Nassau County chapter of Moms Demand Action is firing at the Inn at New Hyde Park for planning to hold a National Rifle Association event in September.
Tracy Bacher, a mother of three from Sea Cliff and the head of the local Moms Demand Action chapter, said the activist group is launching a protest campaign after Inn management said it plans to keep the event despite the group’s request to reconsider.
Members are calling and emailing the Inn and the group plans to hold several protests outside the catering hall leading up to the event if it is not canceled, Bacher said.
A representative from the Inn at New Hyde park said the catering hall declined to comment.
“When I got wind of the event I called the events mangers and kind of pleaded with them to reconsider their contract with the NRA, and they declined,” Bacher said in an interview Monday. “They actually said ‘the NRA sounds like a lovely organization.’ That was a direct quote.”
The fundraising event, hosted by Nassau County Friends of NRA, is set to be held on Thursday, Sept. 27, at 5:30 p.m., according to the Friends of NRA website.
Tickets range in price from $65 for a single ticket to $2,000, for the Charlton Heston Table.
The event features a raffle and auction with prizes including a .410 gauge Henry Lever Action Shotgun with a Second Amendment engraving and a Colt Cobra revolver with custom NRA grips, according to a flier.
Efforts to reach Nassau County Friends of NRA were unavailing.
Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America is a nationwide, grassroots movement founded by Shanon Watts, a stay-at-home mother from Indiana, in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting.
Since then, the group has expanded to all 50 states and has about five million volunteer members opposing the NRA.
“We support the Second Amendment, we support the rights of people to own guns for self-defense and hunting, but the NRA is really nothing but a shill for gun manufacturers,” Bacher said. “… While the organization was once about gun safety and marksmanship, in the past decade it is nothing but a kind of lobbying group that blocks sensible common sense gun legislation.”
The majority of the NRA’s own members support common sense gun laws, Bacher said.
According to a Pew Research study from July 2017, 79 percent of NRA members supported laws preventing mentally ill people from purchasing guns and 72 percent supported laws barring gun purchases by people on no-fly or watch lists.
The same study found that 52 percent of NRA members supported background checks.
“[The NRA] consistently blocks progress, and we don’t want them to have any place in Nassau County,” Bacher said.
“We will be holding protests out front of the Inn to let them know that it’s not welcome here in our community. Gun owners are, of course, but the NRA and everything it stands for – its dangerous rhetoric – is not something we want here.”
Lois Schaffer, a gun safety advocate from Great Neck, said she agrees that the NRA has shifted to become a political, lobbying group – but Schaffer thinks protesting the private event may be for naught.
“They are permitted to have whatever reception they want, and that means there’s nothing I can do to stop them to do that and we just have to push on for what is it that we need to do,” Schaffer said.
Schaffer said gun advocates need to continue pushing for legislation, such as safe storage ordinances, despite pushback from the NRA.
If the Inn at New Hyde Park didn’t hold the event, “that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t have been held some other place,” Schaffer added.
At least three elected officials or candidates for office in Nassau said they will stand by Moms Demand Action in their protest efforts, Bacher said, though she did not disclose who.
On Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) joined advocates in demanding the NRA cancel the 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,” Suozzi said in a news release. “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.”
North Hempstead Town Councilwoman Anna Kaplan, the Democratic candidate for the District 7 state Senate seat, said Tuesday she stands with Moms Demand Action and others in calling to cancel the event.
“The families of Nassau have spoken: The NRA is not welcome here. For too long, the NRA has conducted a fear-based operation that prioritizes money over our children’s lives,” Kaplan said in a statement. “The time to act isn’t in the wake of another school shooting, but right now.”
Kaplan said she will continue her call until the event is canceled.
Kaplan added that every leader in the community who believes in common sense gun reforms should oppose the NRA’s presence.
Kaplan faces Republican incumbent state Sen. Elaine Phillips in the race.
Efforts to reach Phillips were unavailing.
On Twitter, constituents called on North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice to speak out against the NRA fundraiser.
Executive Laura Curran and U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice to speak out against the NRA fundraiser.
In a statement, Bosworth said she respects the Inn’s “legal right and prerogative” to book the event.
Bosworth added that “while I support the second amendment, I will use this opportunity to again stress my strong belief that our nation needs stronger gun control laws. We must each take a more active role in achieving this.
Efforts to reach Curran and Rice were unavailing.
The protests will be peaceful and the intent is not to “disturb anyone’s special events,” Bacher said.
“We’re not going to chant, we’re not going to have blow horns,” she said.
The protests will be in the form of weekly vigils, to represent the 96 people killed by gun violence every day and the blood on the NRA’s hands for blocking progress that could stop gun violence, Bacher said.
Reach reporter Rebecca Klar by email at [email protected], by phone at 516-307-1045, ext. 204, or follow her on Twitter @rebeccaklar_.