(INDIANAPOLIS) - A spokesman for the National Rifle Association says it wasn't them who held up a public announcement that their annual convention was coming to Indianapolis.
We learned this week that the gun rights group would hold its Annual Meeting and Exhibits at the Indiana Convention Center April 25-27. It may be the largest convention ever in Indiana, with more than 70,000 people expected to attend. GenCon, which is usually one of Indy's biggest annual events, drew just under 50,000 last year.
The convention was booked roughly four years ago, and an official with Visit Indy said they asked the NRA when they could publicly announce it. Visit Indy says after some miscommunication, they finally heard from the NRA near the end of last year, when the group suggested putting out a press release in February. The NRA doesn't entirely agree with that, saying they tried to get together with the tourism bureau for an announcement right after the deal was done. "Trying to match the schedules of very important people in different entities is easier said than done," said Andrew Arulanandam (uh-ROOL-uh-NAN-dum), the NRA's Director of Public Affairs.
Arulanandam says no one with the group was trying to keep their trip to Indy a secret - the NRA recently began promoting the convention on its web site. He says the Indiana Convention Center is one of the few places in the country large enough to host their annual affair. "The NRA has a very strong membership and supporter base from Indiana and surrounding states to pull from to increase attendance," Arulanandam said.
The NRA is one of the more polarizing groups in America, with their critics seeing them as inflexible to what the critics believe are reasonable gun control measures. "We're standing and fighting for this great American freedom," Arulanandam said. "We are the nation's premiere second amendment rights organization. That's what we stand and fight for every single day."
Arulanandam says he also wishes the NRA's critics would focus on things in which they and the NRA likely agree, such as the need for reform of the nation's mental health system, or enforcing current gun laws. "If there are people who break these gun laws, they should be arrested, prosecuted and punished. That's what the National Rifle Association stands for, and that's what a majority of Americans stand for."
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