SOUTHINGTON – The Aqua Turf Club announced Thursday that it will no longer host the National Rifle Association’s annual fundraiser, citing controversy surrounding the event. The Plantsville banquet facility has hosted the dinner for a quarter-century.
“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 longtime 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 written 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, a gun-rights advocacy group, called it “very unfortunate” that management of the Aqua Turf Club was put into a position in which it 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-TV, area anti-gun advocates took issue with the timing of the NRA’s March 23 fundraiser at the Aqua Turf. The date coincided with the “March for Our Lives” student protest in Washington, D.C., held in response to the killing of 17 high school students in Parkland, Fla., on Feb. 14.
“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 WFSB report. “After the most horrific tragedy that occurred in this nation, we need corporations and businesses to distance themselves from the NRA.”
A statement from the Friends of the NRA called the timing of the fundraiser 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 email@example.com.