Steve Katz's fundraiser: Cocktails, dinner & guns

Assemb. Steve Katz at the 10th annual Walk

Assemb. Steve Katz at the 10th annual Walk to Defeat ALS at Tibbetts Brook Park in Yonkers. Katz was ticketed for speeding and marijuana possession Thursday in Albany County, according to State Police. (July 31, 2012) (Credit: Leslie Barbaro)

A Republican assemblyman is taking heat from gun-control advocates for a fundraiser that promises guests the chance to fire "simulated" AK-47s, News12 Westchester reported.

Invitations to Assemblyman Steve Katz's fundraiser promised dinner, cocktails, a live SWAT demonstration and weapons demonstrations at the Tuesday night fundraiser.

The $200-a-plate fundraiser was hosted at Carmel's Paladin Center, a private training facility described by its owners as a "professional and continuing education venue" that teaches tactical security methods.

Although Katz, 58, planned the fundraiser months ago -- long before the fatal shootings at a Colorado movie theater that left 12 people dead and wounded 70 others, critics accused the assemblyman of being insensitive by going ahead with the event.

"I can't believe there would be such a celebration around these guns when they have caused so much recent damage to so many people's lives," a New Yorkers Against Gun Violence spokesman told News12. "Out of respect for the victims, they could have changed the nature of tonight's fundraiser."

But Katz said the weapons demonstrations are simulated and are meant as a demonstration of training routines at the Paladin Center, which counts police and first responders among its clients.

"It has nothing to do with anything that happened in Colorado," Katz told News12.

The controversy prompted state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, who had been on the guest list, to cancel his appearance, the Daily News reported.

Katz, a veterinarian, endured another round of criticism after his wife posted a Facebook photo of herself wearing a big grin, a cowboy hat and a U.S. flag tank top while holding a shotgun.

Katz supporter Angelina Mendes said she believes the criticism is unwarranted.

"These two issues are quite separate," Mendes told News12, referring to the claimed connection between the Aurora massacre and the Katz fundraiser. "People do bear arms in this area, and it's their political right to do this, and I think it's a great idea."

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