INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – By this weekend, an estimated 70,000 people will be in Indianapolis for the city’s first time hosting the annual NRA Convention.
It’s the third largest convention Indianapolis has ever hosted, and Visit Indy officials say they estimate it’ll bring in $55 million in economic impact.
Visit Indy spokesperson Chris Gahl said the city first approached the NRA more than a decade ago about hosting its annual meeting here. The committed to the city in 2010. Since then, Gahl said tourism officials, city officials, and the NRA have all been working together to prepare for this weekend.
NRA spokesperson Catherine Mortensen told 24-Hour News 8 the organization has been working with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department specifically on security details.
“The NRA members are probably the most law-abiding group at a convention that you’ll ever get,” she said. “They’re terrific. But we do have a lot of security measures in place – many of them that will be visible to people and, for obvious reasons, some of them won’t be so visible. But we do take that very seriously.”
The NRA team walks the convention sites, examines the hotels and the perimeters around the area long before its conventions begin.
Mortensen said the firing pins will be removed from all firearms on the convention floor for safety.
It’s also worth noting that the convention is not a “cash and carry” event. That means you can order a gun at the convention, but you can’t leave with it. Instead, you can pick it up at a licensed gun shop.
You can, however, carry out merchandise such as holsters and gun locks.
Local gun store owners say they hope some of that out of town traffic will head their way, as well.
“It’s going to be a big weekend. It’s already started. A lot of people are coming in from all over the country for this,” said Brian Ludlow, owner of Indy Trading Post on the city’s near south side.
Ludlow is hoping his location, just miles south of the Convention Center will help as well. He said Wednesday, he’d already seen an uptick in traffic.
“If they live in the state of Indiana, they may buy a gun. I think our gun sales are probably going to go up this weekend, and I think the range and the rental guns are going to get quite a bit of use this weekend,” said Ludlow.
Over at Beech Grove Firearms, owner Greg Burge says he’s partnered with a gun manufacturer this weekend.
The manufacturer has already dropped off a number of free items that will be available to those who purchase items at Beech Grove Firearms this weekend.
Burge says since this is the inaugural event for Indy, he’s not sure how gun stores themselves will do, but says, “It’s a huge draw citywide: hotels, restaurants. It’s a win-win for the city of Indianapolis.”
Some are planning to protest the event Saturday.
IMPD says their staffing this weekend will be typical to a weekend where a big convention is downtown.
The convention was held in Houston last year. Houston PD told 24-Hour News 8 there some peaceful protests but no major problems.