National Rifle Association Convention comes to Louisville - WDRB 41 Louisville News

National Rifle Association Convention comes to Louisville

The National Rifle Association's annual convention is in Louisville this week for the first time in its 137-year history.

The convention is bringing in money and a presidential candidate to Louisville this weekend.

No doubt the NRA has a lot of political influence, and it's the perfect time for the organization to use some of it - right here in Kentucky, with the primary less than one week away.The National Rifle Association has taken over the Kentucky Expo Center's South Wing and booked more than two dozen hotels throughout the city.

"During some tough economic times, that's good news for our merchants here in this city," said Jim Wood with the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The Convention and Visitors Bureau says people attending the Meetings and Exhibits will spend at least $6 million in Louisville.  And the NRA says most firearms companies hire local workers to set up their rather elaborate displays.  More than 400 exhibits showcase guns and their accessories.

"There's not very many cities that can handle an organization the size of this convention," said Rachel Parsons with the National Rifle Association.

Just looking at the number of lines the NRA has set up, you know they're expecting a lot of people -- 60,000, to be exact.  And they're offering an "election year special" for a lifetime membership -- half off.

"Strategically, we always look at conventions that have the ability to attract presidential candidates every four years," said Wood.

The NRA has not endorsed a presidential candidate, but has invited one. Republican Senator John McCain is scheduled to speak Friday to a sold-out crowd.

"Our members are really excited to hear what he has to say and what he's going to do to preserve the 2nd amendment, and if he's elected president, what legislation is he going to pass that is going to protect that right," said Parsons.

The NRA did not invite the Democratic hopefuls.  "Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have never voted for a piece of pro-gun legislation," said Parsons.

But the NRA invites everyone in Louisville to attend the convention - in a state the group says is gun friendly in its laws and one attraction - the Frazier International History Museum.

"Louisville, Kentucky is a great radius, a great central location for about half a million of our members," said Parsons.The NRA has about 4 million members.  Joining some of those members at the convention - starting Thursday, Governor Steve Beshear, former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, and former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton.

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