Demonstrators pledged Sunday to boycott venues that host the National Rifle Association at a protest over a planned fundraiser in New Hyde Park.
About 50 people — including relatives of victims of the Parkland, Florida, shooting — gathered outside The Inn at New Hyde Park to speak out against a Nassau County Friends of the NRA fundraiser to be held there later this month.
The event will raise money for the NRA Foundation, a nonprofit that supports the "firearm-related public interest activities" of the NRA, according to its website.
Protesters said they do not want to support businesses that host NRA events until the association supports “common sense” gun control, including banning AR-15 rifles and requiring gun owners to pass safety courses.
“We will not patronize any business that accepts NRA blood money,” said Linda Beigel Schulman, whose son, Scott Beigel, was killed in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting earlier this year. “It’s not just business…it’s the lives of everyone standing here.”
Protesters called on the inn to cancel the Sep. 27 and touted that groups, including the Nassau County Democratic Committee, have already canceled events there over concerns about the fundraiser.
Cynthia Pesce Osswald, the inn’s general manager, said the venue signed a contract in December to allow the group to host an event. She said the inn does “not discriminate” and that various fundraisers and political functions have been held there.
“When someone books an event, we don’t ask them their agenda,” Pesce Osswald, of Lindenhurst, said.
Protesters wore “Make It Stop” shirts and held signs reading “Banquets not bullets” outside the venue as the occasional wedding guest walked by. Demonstrators raised concern that the fundraiser will auction and raffle off firearms and it's uncertain who will get them.
Rick Lucidi, an organizer of the annual NRA event, said, “you cannot get a gun in New York State without a background check, period.”
“My reaction is I can’t believe they went to disrupt somebody’s special day. I’m pretty upset about that,” he said of the protest, declining to comment further.
Rachel Klein, of Long Islanders for Gun Safety and a protest organizer, said she does not expect the venue to cancel the event and wants to use the protest to show community opposition to NRA events.
“They have the right to assemble, and the inn has every right to host them,” said Klein, 39, of NRA supporters. “We have every right to choose to spend our money elsewhere.”
A representative for the NRA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.