Coney Island mainstay pulls out of planned NRA fundraiser amidst pushback

A Coney Island mainstay that came under fire this week for agreeing to host an National Rifle Association (NRA) fundraiser in April has since cancelled the event.

According to NY1, the event — Brooklyn’s Friends of the NRA’s second annual fundraiser, which was slated to be held at Gargiulo’s Restaurant on April 12 — will no longer take place at the longstanding Coney Island venue.

The NRA, which has been steadily losing the support of national organizations and businesses since the February 14 mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in which 17 students and teachers were killed and 14 more were hospitalized, has advocated for gun rights in America since the late 1800s.

The April fundraiser was set to include dinner, raffles, auction and “fun,” according to organizers, with “exclusive NRA guns, gear, decor and collectibles” up for grabs.

Among the prizes, according to The Daily News, are the “2018 Gun of the Year set,” which includes a Kimber .45-caliber pistol engraved with “Defending Freedom” and an NRA serial number; the John Wayne “Lil’ Duke” BB Rifle; a .410.-gauge shotgun; a Colt Cobra revolver; and a 7mm-08 “women’s rifle.”

Gargiulo’s, located at 2911 West 15th Street since 1907, has played host to this specific fundraiser before, but pulled out, NY1 reports, amidst community pushback.

A bevy of local elected officials and advocates who previously condemned the event were quick to laud the local business’ decision.

“We are extremely pleased that the owners of Gargiulo’s have heard and recognized the sentiments of our community and have agreed to cancel the NRA-sponsored event,” said Councilmember Mark Treyger, Congressmember Hakeem Jeffries, Public Advocate Letitia James, City Comptroller Scott Stringer, State Senator Diane Savino and National Action Network Northeast Regional Director Minister Kirsten John Foy in a joint statement. “We have worked hard to address gun violence in this neighborhood, and an event like this, particularly after the Parkland tragedy, was simply not in the best interests of our community. Gargiulo’s has a well-deserved reputation for being a key partner in the effort to revitalize Coney Island. During and after Hurricane Sandy’s devastation of our neighborhood, the team at Gargiulo’s generously supplied much-needed food and assistance, and was instrumental in helping many in our community recover. Gargiulo’s has been an important and supportive partner of the community for decades, and the decision to cancel this event shows that Gargiulo’s has heard and respects the concerns of our community.”

Still, some community stakeholders had no issues with the booking.

“What a disgrace to attack a business for conducting business,” said Father Michael Gelfant, spiritual leader of St. Finbar Catholic Church, in a Facebook post.

According to The Daily News, the event was booked prior to the Parkland shooting.

“We don’t want issues with anybody,” owner Anthony Russo told the News prior to the event’s cancellation. “Our hearts go out to the families of the victims.”

It is unclear at this time whether the event itself has been cancelled, or if its location will be changed.

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