After ditching Columbus because of its restrictive gun rules, the National Rifle Association intends to bring the group’s annual convention in 2007 to St. Louis, where the gun laws are more accommodating, says the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Missouri is widely considered to have lenient firearm regulations. Adding to that, a state law allowing residents to carry concealed weapons went into effect this year.
Columbus’ loss is a sizable win for St. Louis’ tourism trade, which in recent years has fallen short of its goals. The NRA event is projected to bring 60,000 people to town and inject $20 million into the local economy. The NRA’s promise of “five acres of guns and gear” at the America’s Center April 13-17, 2007, would likely rate among the largest conventions ever lured to St. Louis. Columbus officials said the NRA delayed signing a binding contract for the convention because it never intended to come to town. The city’s assault weapons ban was no surprise, they said. It had been debated in public hearings for years.