The Grand Prospect Hall got gun shy Monday night, canceling a Brooklyn club’s annual fund-raiser after a withering backlash from the neighborhood.
Grand Prospect is the second catering hall to boot the Brooklyn Friends of the NRA.
The group originally scheduled its annual fund-raiser at Gargiulo’s restaurant in Coney Island — but that eatery canceled the event amid outrage over the Feb. 14 deaths of 17 students and staffers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
Gun club members thought they had found a sympathetic space in progressive Park Slope, where the Grand Prospect Hall is known for commercials that declare “We’ll make all your dreams come true.” But after the Daily News reported the venue, the outcry became a nightmare for the Grand Prospect.
Trump may be at Mar-a-Lago during March for Our Lives rally
“The internet went crazy,” Michael Halkias, the owner of the hall, said. “The people of Park Slope are very focused and they made their case to the Grand Prospect Hall. Some of them were very convincing and gentle — and some of them were very nasty and ugly.” Halkiasinitially defended the gun group get-together at his hall.
“Guns are not a bad thing,” he said, when asked about the gathering. “They can be a bad thing, like anything, you know?” He also was willing to weather complaints from some local schools. “I do have a certain amount of opposition from certain schools that I have (in the area),” he said Monday afternoon, before pulling out.
“I told them that if they get me a document from the court, from a judge, telling me that is illegal to do that, I will abide by the law.” Horrified Park Slope moms and dads had said the event was not welcome in their neighborhood.
Nationwide student walkout
“I would prefer that they cancel it altogether,” Maricarmen Barrera, 40, said. “This area is very parent-, kid-friendly. They don’t fit well here.”
Lin-Manuel Miranda and Ben Platt team up to fight gun violence
Halkias changed his mind after phone calls and emails poured into his business.
“The Park Slope people were very, very upset and the NRA people understood my predicament,” he said.
He asked them to cancel the event and they agreed not to sue him for breach of contract, he said. Halkias said his hall was the group’s first choice, but the price was too high for it.
“They came back to me (after Gargiulo’s canceled), and I had to be a nice guy, because it’s a fund-raiser,” he said. The hall’s owner said opposition to the club and the National Rifle Association is a lot of hype.
Poll shows overwhelming support for new N.Y. gun control measures
“I know certain people do not understand. The NRA sounds very bad. It’s propaganda, you know?” he said. He handed a Daily News reporter a printout from the gun group’s website.
“The Constitution says you can have a gun wherever you are. So you have a license so you have to know how to use it. Makes sense,” Halkias said. The event had touted a gun auction and raffle. Among the prizes was a “2018 Gun of the Year set” featuring a Kimber .45-caliber pistol engraved with the words, “Defending Freedom.”
Not everyone in Park Slope opposed the fund-raiser before it was shot down. “I’m all for it,” Heidi Poch, 52, said. “I’m just saying, it makes sense. People don’t bother people if they are equipped with some way to prevent something from happening.”
Send a Letter to the Editor
EDGAR SANDOVAL, JANON FISHER