Shell shocker: Eatery faces backlash over hosting NRA fund-raiser after mass shooting

Shell shocker: Eatery faces backlash over hosting NRA fund-raiser after mass shooting
Photo by Steve Solomonson

Local residents and pols blasted the top brass at Coney Island restaurant Gargiulo’s for announcing plans to host a fund-raiser for the National Rifle Association just two weeks after the deadly school shooting that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

The eatery agreed to host the Brooklyn Friends of the National Rifle Association’s second-annual fund-raiser on April 12 — including a raffle giving away guns — a move that riled locals and prompted an array of pols to issue a statement condemning the event.

“At a time when our country is mourning the loss of 17 lives in a mass shooting, it is profoundly disappointing that a storied Coney Island institution, with a long history of being a strong civic and community partner, is choosing to host a National Rifle Association fund-raising event that includes raffle giveaways of guns,” said Councilman Mark Treyger (D–Coney Island), Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D–Marine Park), Public Advocate Letitia James, Comptroller Scott Stringer, and state Sen. Diane Savino (D–Coney Island) in a joint statement.

The pols pointed out that hosting an event promoting firearms in Coney Island was particularly insulting to a neighborhood that has long struggled with gun violence.

“Bringing an event like this to Coney Island is an affront to all of the hard work that our community has done to address gun violence in our neighborhood,” they wrote.

The gun giveaway will feature a shotgun, two pistols, and two rifles — among other prizes — up for grabs for attendees who enter a $50-per-ticket raffle and bid in an auction. Other guns and firearms merch are also on offer for individuals or organizations who sponsor the event with donations from $300 for “Liberty level” to $5,000 for “Patriot level.”

Borough President Adams said in a statement that raffling off guns was irresponsible, and that the eatery owners should instead focus on bolstering the voices and concerns of locals who support reasonable gun reform, adding that he has faith borough youngsters will follow in the footsteps of the Parkland teens calling for change.

“There are far more friends of gun reform in Brooklyn, including responsible gun owners like me, than friends of the NRA who think it’s responsible to raffle off rifles at a fund-raiser,” Adams said. “Students from Park Slope to Parkland are leading a national movement demanding action to save lives amid our gun-violence epidemic, and I believe our borough’s young people will have plenty to say about this event happening in our own backyard.”

The Brooklyn Friends of the National Rifle Association held two events in the borough last year, according to the New York Post — one at Gargiulo’s and one on a Sheepshead Bay party boat.

Locals have blasted the eatery on social media, with some promising they will boycott the restaurant if it goes through with hosting the event. And the pols said in their statement that Gargiulo’s owners should heed the calls to nix the event.

“There is no room in Coney Island or our city for events like this,” they said. “We urge Gargiulo’s to expeditiously cancel this event.”

A rep for Gargiulo’s said the eatery had no comment, and the National Rifle Association did not respond to a call for comment by press time.

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jmcshane@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.
Shocked: With emotions still raw in the wake of the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, many Brooklynites were outraged by news that borough staple Gargiulo’s restaurant would be hosting a fund-raiser for the Brooklyn Friends of the National Rifle Association in April.
Associated Press / Charles Trainor Jr