BY HELEN KLEIN & MEAGHAN MCGOLDRICK
This paper has learned exclusively that the Brooklyn Friends of the NRA, whose event featuring a gun auction was booted from two Brooklyn venues over the past couple of months after local residents and elected officials expressed strong objections, will be holding their dinner at the Dyker Heights Knights of Columbus, at 86th Street and 13th Avenue, tonight, beginning at 6 p.m.
It’s unclear if the gun rally is still a part of the evening’s activities. No information about the invite-only event was available online on the group’s Facebook page or elsewhere, based on a Google search.
A source reported a strong police presence outside, as well.
Earlier this year, two prominent Brooklyn venues — Gargiulo’s in Coney Island and the Grand Prospect Hall in Park Slope — received pushback after agreeing to host the dinner, originally slated for April 12, before both eventually backed out.
The event was originally billed to include a raffle and auction which, organizers once boasted would include exclusive NRA gear and guns, such as the John Wayne “Lil’ Duke” BB Rifle; a .410.-gauge shotgun; a Colt Cobra revolver; and a 7mm-08 “women’s rifle.”
Elected officials across the city as well as locals were quick to condemn the venues for making room for such an event, news of which came on the heels of 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.
Even as word of the upcoming event trickled out via this newspaper’s inquiries, opponents began to make themselves heard.
“I think this is absolutely outrageous,” said Ridgeite Andrew Gounardes, one of two candidates for the Democratic nomination for State Senate, who reached out to this paper. “The NRA has absolutely no place in Brooklyn. They do not believe in common-sense gun laws. They do not believe in keeping our neighborhood safe and the fact that they have to sneak around our community just to hold a fundraiser shows how wrong they know they are and how unwelcome they are in our community.”
Ross Barkan, the other Democratic candidate for State Senate in Bay Ridge/Dyker Heights agreed. “The NRA is a disgraceful organization,” he said “After every mass shooting, the NRA proves it cares more about deadly assault weapons than human lives. It is, in every way, morally bankrupt. For the NRA to come to Brooklyn, to the place I call home, is unconscionable.”
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and City Councilmember Justin Brannan — who represents the area where the event is being held — issued a joint statement after the news broke.
“We are disappointed to learn in the 11th hour of an NRA fundraiser in Dyker Heights, especially after our neighbors in Coney Island and South Slope expressed their deep displeasure with having this benefit take place in their communities,” the pair said. “The lack of notice as to its rescheduling indicates a desire to fly under the radar and avoid the scrutiny of a rightly concerned public. The NRA does not value the safety and security of our neighborhoods, putting deadly assault weapons above innocent lives; it is no friend of Brooklyn. Our protest of the NRA and their campaign of chaos continues.”
The Parkland massacre, which has since prompted national organizations and companies alike to cut ties ties with the NRA, is the fifth deadliest school shooting in American history.
This will be the Brooklyn affiliate’s second fundraiser held on behalf of the nonprofit organization which, since the late 1800s, has advocated for gun rights in America.
By press time, neither the NRA nor the Knights of Columbus had not responded to a request for comment.