INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – It’s bigger than the FFA and Gen Con. Indianapolis is preparing for a convention that will put the city in the national spotlight.
But in this case, the thousands heading to the city are part of a group that immediately spark passion on both sides of a hot debated issue.
The National Rifle Association’s national convention, scheduled to take place downtown from April 24-27, is already raising questions other conventions don’t.
The Indy Trading Post on Madison Avenue is a short drive from the Indianapolis Convention Center, and for Brian Ludlow, that spells opportunity.
“They offer advertising and such. I’m actually exploring some of those options right now,” Ludlow said.
Ludlow has been in the gun business for six years and says all those people at the NRA national convention won’t spend all their time downtown. He says he intends to let them know about his business.
“Because this is obviously a group of people that you want to have come to your store, use your range and all that. And leave some money behind, obviously,” he says.
That is exactly what Visit Indy had in mind when it began courting the NRA back before the convention center expansion was finished.
“We’re anticipating 65-to 70,000 attendees. They’ll generate an estimated $55 million in economic impact,” says Chris Gahl, vice president of Marketing and Communications at Visit Indy.
“We know in working with the National Rifle Association, they have a very robust, very detailed safety plan. That’s not only for the walls of the Indiana Convention Center, but certainly at the hotels and the community at large,” he said.
While past conventions – last years’ was in Houston – often attract protestors, what goes on is peaceful.
Ludlow says the NRA convention might even help ease some gun control tensions.
“I’m sure there’s people who think, oh it’s going to be unsafe. It’ll be extremely safe. And family friendly and all that good stuff,” Ludlow says.
Indiana law allows attendees with gun permits to carry firearms into the convention center, Gahl says.
24-Hour News 8 contacted Moms Demand Action, a group that has protested at gun sales here and nationally to see if they plan to do the same in April, but we were told no one was available for an interview Monday.