The Friends of the NRA recently announced plans for a second fundraiser in two years at the Inn at New Hyde Park catering facility in New Hyde Park.
According to a flyer from the group, the event, scheduled to be held on Sept. 19, is meant to celebrate a “legacy” of shooting sports traditions and will feature dinner, raffles and auctions, with attendees given chances to win guns, gear, decor and collectibles.
The event as can be expected – and for good reason – has drawn criticism from anti-gun groups and elected officials. Just as it did last year.
We noted last year that the National Rifle Association, once a sportsman trade association, has morphed into a tool of gun manufacturers to promote industry profits no matter the carnage left in its wake.
What we didn’t know then is how the organization’s leadership and a small group of lobbyists had also turned the NRA into a source of personal enrichment with outlandish salaries and perks.
A series of internal National Rifle Association documents leaked online recently detailed lavish six-figure spending on clothing and travel expenses by CEO Wayne LaPierre.
For which, we say good.
The more money LaPierre spends on lavish suits the less money he has to oppose common-sense gun safety legislation to address national rates of gun-related homicides, suicides and accidental deaths unknown in the rest of the Western world. Not to mention the nearly daily mass shootings that have terrified the nation.
This raises the obvious question of why Friends of the NRA – knowing all this while the carnage in this country increased – continue to raise funds for this organization? But we will let them answer that question.
State Sen. Anna Kaplan had it right when she criticized the Friends of the NRA for holding this year’s event.
“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,” Kaplan said.
Unlike last year, however, when she was running for the state Senate, Kaplan did not cast blame on the Inn at New Hyde Park for renting Friends of the NRA the space for the event.
That honor went to state Sen. Jim Gaughran (D-Northport), who made this year’s event public in a letter addressed to Frank Marino, owner of the Inn of New Hyde Park, that he tweeted 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. “What I can’t understand then, is why The Inn is hosting them again this year.”
Well, to start senator, the Inn at New Hyde Park is a local business that makes money by renting space for people and organizations who want to hold events. It’s called free enterprise.
Let’s set aside the point that we already have one well-known public official in this country who regularly targets businesses that disagree with him.
Do we really want people who run businesses to screen their customers based on their political views? Like the baker in Colorado who doesn’t want to serve gay people. Or hotel owners in the South who would not serve blacks in the past?
And why stop there?
The real reason we don’t have common-sense gun safety legislation such as universal background checks supported by more than 90 percent of the American people is not the Friends of the NRA or the Inn at New Hyde Park. It is Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Donald Trump, also a Republican.
Should the Inn at New Hyde Park or any other business not do business with the Republican Party or its friends?
Gaughran seems to say so in his letter when he says 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.
Sounds like the U.S. Senate to us.
Say, senator, know anyone, perhaps an elected official, who might do something constructive about this failure? Other than picking on a local business owner trying to make a living?
Just remember that the only real progress in gun safety recently came when Walmart, a private business, announced the store would stop selling ammunition for military-style assault rifles and handguns, phase out the sale of handguns entirely and request that customers not openly carry weapons in its stores, even in states where it’s legal. The company also called on the government to tighten gun regulations.
To her credit, Kaplan recently co-sponsored legislation signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo that requires out-of-state firearm buyers to submit to mental health background checks.
The legislation further strengthens New York State gun safety laws that are arguably the toughest in the country.
Kaplan also said she intended to use her First Amendment right to join others in a protest of the NRA event – rather than try to prevent the misbegotten supporters of the NRA from exercising their First Amendment rights.
That is a far better approach than the one implied by Gaughran.
But it still falls far short of what really needs to be done – change who is in charge in Washington.