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Ban Could Cost City Convention

The recently-enacted assault weapons ban in the city of Columbus might wind up costing the capital city the 2007 National Rifle Association convention.

City leaders were holding their breath Friday night, wondering if one of the biggest conventions planned to hit Columbus will cancel.

The NRA announced in May that it chose Columbus over two other cities for its 2007 convention. But now the organization is planning another announcement scheduled for Monday that could change its plans.

On Friday, the NRA would neither confirm nor deny that it plans to leave Columbus. There is speculation that the city's recent vote to ban assault weapons has the group worried about the impact on exhibitors.

Many in the city of Columbus are now worried about losing out on millions of tourism dollars.

"The offer is still open. The door is still open. And we hope they do come to Columbus to have their convention. But they are not going to dictate the policy of the city of Columbus," Mayor Michael Coleman told 10TV.

Councilman Mike Mentel, who spearheaded the city’s new assault weapons ban, says the gun ownership advocacy group should have been aware of the impending legislation when it chose Columbus for its conference.

"I would find it incomprehensible that they had no knowledge of the efforts that me and my council colleagues were doing with this ban," Mentel said.

The city says the NRA knew about the ordinance before it picked Columbus. Now, the city is wondering if it will lose out on the proceeds 50,000 to 60,000 visitors could bring to local businesses and tax coffers.

"We project it could bring between $12 million and $15 million to our city in three or four days," Joseph Marinelli of “Experience Columbus” said.

A sticking point for the NRA may be the language of the city's assault ban law. It reads in part, "…no one is allowed to possess assault weapons…" which could prevent exhibitors from showing their guns. It also flies in the face of the organization’s defense of the 2nd Amendment.

http://www.10tv.com/Global/story.asp?S=3601509

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