In the wake of the mass shooting at Parkland, Florida’s high school, Gargiulo’s — a 100-year-old iconic Italian restaurant on Coney Island — is under fire from politicians and on social media for hosting a National Rifle Association fundraiser. On April 12, Brooklyn’s Friends of NRA will host the annual event, raffling and auctioning off several pistols, shotguns, revolvers, and rifles, the Post reports.
The event immediately drew criticism from politicians and ire from the public. In a public statement, congressman Hakeem Jeffries, controller Scott Stringer, public advocate Letitia James, and others spoke out against the fundraiser:
“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 an National Rifle Association fund-raising event that includes raffle giveaway of guns. We know that Gargiulo’s has always had the best interests of the Coney Island community at heart, which is why it is so disappointing that they are hosting the NRA, an organization that actively lobbies for concealed carry reciprocity, something that NYPD Commissioner O’Neill has rightfully called ‘insanity.’”
But Gargiulo’s owner Anthony Russo tells the Daily News the party was booked “well before” the Parkland shooting. “We’re trying to address the issue with Friends of the NRA,” he said. “We don’t want issues with anybody. Our hearts go out to the families of the victims.” He also said that last year’s event had “no issues.”
Eater has reached out to Gargiulo’s and the NRA for more information.