Northport lawmaker to introduce bill that eyes NRA fundraiser in NHP

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Northport lawmaker to introduce bill that eyes NRA fundraiser in NHP
State Sen. James Gaughran (D-Northport) said Monday that he is introducing legislation that would prohibit firearms from begin given away in games of chance. (Photo courtesy of the Office of State Sen. James Gaughran)

State Sen. Jim Gaughran (D-Northport) said on Monday he is introducing legislation that would prohibit firearms from being given as prizes in raffles or games of chance.

The announcement was made in advance of a fundraiser hosted by the Nassau County chapter of the Friends of the NRA at the Inn at New Hyde Park on Thursday. This is the second year the catering hall has hosted the event.

Firearms will be offered as raffle prizes at the event, according to an NRA flyer.

Gaughran has been a vocal opponent of both the 2018 fundraiser and the one being held this year.

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.

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.

The fundraiser’s return became public after Gaughran 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.

“You shouldn’t be able to simply walk into a catering venue and walk out owning a firearm,” Gaughran said. “You can’t raffle off a bottle of wine, so why can’t you raffle off a weapon of war?”

Efforts to reach the Nassau chapter of the Friends of the NRA were unavailing.

Gaughran’s office said that the fundraiser would include “raffles of firearms and parts for weapons of war” which would include attachments for the AR-15 semi-automatic weapon, which Gaughran’s office said was “infamously used” in the Parkland, Sandy Hook, Las Vegas, Pittsburgh synagogue and Texas church shootings.

However, according to the news website Patch, Laurence Dittmer,  a former member of the Nassau County Friends of NRA, told Patch in an email Monday no AR-15-style guns or parts were available at last year’s event, nor will there be this year.

Dittmer said to Patch that attendees will not be able to literally walk out with guns at the organization’s dinner events. Attendees must buy a ticket in advance and anyone who wins a gun must pass the same background check that any other American must go through at a gun show or gun store.

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.

Ellie Musmeci, a spokeswoman for Long Islanders 4 Gun Safety, said in a previous interview that her organization, along with the activist group Together We Will L.I., will protest on the day of the event starting at 5 p.m.

Gaughran’s announcement drew support from Long Islanders 4 Gun Safety.

“Guns are not toys. When 100 Americans are dying each day due to gun violence, it’s infuriating that firearms are being raffled off in games of chance,” said Rachel Klein, founder of the group.

Klein said in a statement that the money raised at the event is “being used to further the NRA’s dangerous and deadly agenda of preventing any sort of reasonable gun legislation from being passed in this country.”

Klein said that she is furious that tickets are being sold to a group that has recently been declared a “domestic terrorist organization” in San Francisco.

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