SOUTHINGTON – The Aqua Turf has decided to not host the annual NRA fundraiser due to the controversy surrounding the event.
“Following the unprecedented controversy regarding the Aqua Turf Club contracting the NRA fundraiser dinner on Friday March 23rd 2018, the owners, an NRA field representative, and a long-time former chairperson for the CT committee of the NRA came together to work on the problem at hand,” the club’s General Manager Karen Alix said in a statement.
“During this meeting, both sides mutually agreed to move the function elsewhere. It was an excruciatingly difficult decision to make as we had formed a 25-year client/venue relationship. The Aqua Turf Club appreciates the understanding and support of the NRA.”
Scott Wilson, president of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, an area gun right advocacy group, said that he feels that it is “very unfortunate” that the Aqua Turf Club was put into a position where they had to make such a choice.
“This whole thing was instigated by a group of people who simply put do not want American citizens to have guns,” he said. “We as an organization also host annual dinners at the Aqua Turf Club. Now, we are in a position where even if we wanted to continue to host there we don’t know if we would be able to going forward. Gun owners do not want to support venues who won’t stand up to bullies from the other side.”
According to a recent report by WFSB, area anti-gun advocates took issue with the timing of the NRA’s most recent fundraiser event held at the venue March 23. The date coincided with the anti-gun “March For Our Lives” student protest in Washington, D.C. The protest was held in response to Nikolas Cruz’ murder of 17 students in Parkland, Fla., during the mass shooting he committed Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
“Holding a fundraiser to raise money for this group basically is funding the ability for dangerous people to harm our children and families and the nation,” said Po Murray of the anti-gun Newtown Action Alliance according to a previous report by WFSB-TV3. “After the most horrific tragedy that occurred in this nation, we need corporations and businesses to distance themselves from the NRA.”
However, a statement from the Friends of the NRA, said that the timing of the fundraiser was coincidental, according to the WFSB report. “This particular event was scheduled over a year ago and has absolutely nothing to do with anything regarding any other event going on anywhere,” he said. “This event has occurred every year for more than 25 years at the same time of year.”
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.