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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (April 17, 2014)– The biggest convention of the year will arrive in Indianapolis next week, attracting more than 70,000 people who will spend in excess of $55 million.

Supporters call the National Rifle Association’s decision to hold its annual meeting in the city on April 25-27 an affirmation of Indianapolis and Indiana’s commitment to, “liberties, gun liberties, freedom of speech, etc.”

The convention, billed as eight acres of guns under the roof of the Indiana Convention Center, comes at a time when Indianapolis is struggling with a spasm of gun violence that has left this year’s homicide rate, outpacing 2013’s stunning statistics and Indianapolis Metropolitan police officers find themselves under attack even more.

“We believe we’ve had approximately 24 of our police officers involved in police-action shooting incidents (since last September when Officer Rod Bradway was murdered),” said Lt. Dale True, IMPD gun range supervisor. “We have definitely seen what appears to be an increase here recently that’s an unusually high number of officers involved in police action shootings in that time period.”

This past Monday night, the IMPD SWAT Team was honored by the City-County Council for its role in a raid that left a suspected drug dealer dead and four officers wounded on South State Street. Andrew Sizemore was armed with two handguns but True said IMPD officers are facing more firepower than ever.

“We have seen an increase in the number of long rifles that have been used in incidents against the police. That used to be something that we did not see years ago, so, that’s definitely an increase in that type of weapon.”

The style of weapon True is describing, an AR-15, is depicted on a new billboard on I-465 near Harding Street on the city’s south side. The billboard shows a baseball in a glove, an apple pie and a rifle. Below it read the words, “PURE AMERICAN.” Other billboards around Indianapolis welcome the NRA to town and advertised a country music concert at Lucas Oil Stadium.

“In one factor it shows that Indianapolis and the state of Indiana are very pro-liberties, gun liberties, freedom of speech, etc., so it’s allowing it to come here,” said Mike Hilton of Pop Guns on the city’s east side. “It’s bringing 70 to 80,000 people into town and they’re going to be spending money.”

Hilton hopes some of that money is spent at his store and gun range.

“For people that are interested in firearms, for what’s new in the firearms industry, this is like a trade show for civilians, for individuals.”

Hilton is surprised there hasn’t more excitement generated by the pending national gathering.

“It’s not like the buzz you get when a basketball tournament is here or football or Super Bowl. You’re not getting that kind of buzz at all. It’s just within the gun community and more with the staunch gun community.”