The Vulnerability Index: What’s Your VX At The NRA Annual Meetings?

posted on June 2, 2016

You live in a picturesque, historical American city on the banks of one of its famous rivers. It is one of the oldest cities west of the Appalachian Mountains, with a rich history that stretches back to the Revolutionary War. It’s home to three Fortune 500 companies and two icons of American sport—a university whose mascot is known worldwide, and a manufacturer of one of the essential tools of America’s pastime. 

One weekend, a throng of armed invaders numbering 80,000 strong descends upon your peaceable community. The crowd fills hotels, restaurants and bars, and spills out into the streets. For three whole days, the streets are swarmed as the multitude packs public spaces. 

This is not Sturgis; nor is it another remake of “Red Dawn.” Not a shot is fired; in fact, the level of local crime actually drops

You live in Louisville, Ky., the site of the 145th NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits, and for the next three days, you are in the safest community on the planet.  

As the number of armed citizens grows, so do the dire warnings of a return to the “Wild West” from those who oppose them. However, with continued victories for concealed carry, open carry, constitutional carry, campus carry, carry outside the home, carry in national parks, carry in restaurants and bars, etc., gun homicide totals nationwide have continued to decrease at every step. This is not Sturgis; nor is it another remake of “Red Dawn.” Not a shot is fired; in fact, the level of local crime actually drops.

But the hysteria among those who fear an armed populace is never quelled, is it? After all, it is a tenet of their faith that the mere presence of guns causes violence. Therefore, tens of thousands of card-carrying, armed NRA members must represent an anti-gunner’s apocalypse—the end of civilization as we know it. Inundate them with 11 acres of exhibits of guns and gear, gin them up with a few speeches and turn them loose in Louisville’s watering holes, and you’ll have a West so wild that Gary Cooper himself wouldn’t dare to cross the Ohio River from Indiana. 

So, how’s that working out for them? Just what is your VX at the NRA Annual Meetings, anyway? 

As it turns out, Louisville got a lot safer during those three days. The Gun Free Zone blog posted crime maps of downtown Louisville for the three weekends prior to the NRA’s Annual Meetings, as well as that for the convention itself. The contrast is dramatic: counting records of crimes, one finds:

Weekend of 4.30-5.1 51 records
Weekend of 5.6-5.8 102 records
Weekend of 5.13-5.15 67 records
Weekend of 5.20-5.22 16 records

I’ll let you guess which weekend downtown Louisville was bursting with NRA members. 

This is a pattern repeated every year: 

Nashville 2015: The Tennesean reported that “The NRA paid more than $200,000 to hire off-duty Metro officers to work security during the three-day convention. Capt. Randy Hickerson … said Sunday that the conference had been fairly uneventful. No major crimes or incidents were reported to police. In fact, Hickerson said, the crowd of 70,000 had been very friendly to police, often walking up to thank the officers or shake their hands.” 

Indianapolis 2014: Fox59 found a correlation between a drop in teen violence and the 143rd NRA Annual Meetings: “Indianapolis Metropolitan police experienced fewer problems with teen violence last weekend. That’s when the NRA convention was downtown. About 75,000 people attended the convention, and many of them were legally armed. IMPD says it was the most peaceful Saturday in the month of April downtown.” 

Charlotte 2010: Molly Hedrick of the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority confirmed that the NRA Annual Meetings drew 78,865 members. According to, Captain Jeff Estes, commander of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s Central Division, said crime for the week was 45 percent lower than the same week a year before. 

As I researched this phenomenon, I found no reports of armed NRA members confronting violent criminals or making citizen arrests. In fact, it’s evident from the data that the mere presence of thousands of lawful armed citizens not only does not result in increased criminal activity, it actually serves as a deterrent to crime. 

“That’s the type of event we would love to have every weekend if we could,” said Tim Newman with the Charlotte Regional Visitor’s Authority. 

Hey ... now, there’s an idea!  

Here at the National VX Crime Reduction Institute, we were inspired by Newman’s comment. We sealed our nerdiest researchers in Laboratory 1911, and told them not to come out until they had calculated a way to use this data to reduce the Vulnerability Index (VX) for residents of a number of American cities. As always, those citizens were given 100 basis points for their VX, and our team added, or subtracted, points for increased, or decreased, vulnerability. 

Their findings, excerpted below, partially filled quite a few 5x7 index cards. We think they will surprise you.

You live in Baltimore, Md., the site of the 2015 riots (+75 pts). Lacking support from the city officials, tentative cops drastically reduced stops and arrests (+100 pts). Criminals went on a historic crime spree, resulting in the deadliest year in the city’s history in 2015 (+200 pts).

VX Institute Recommendation: Apply for a federal grant to build a new convention center and offer it, free of charge, to the NRA for its Annual Meetings & Exhibits. In addition, capitalize on Baltimore’s proximity to NRA HQ in Fairfax, Va., to host a series of mini-conventions, gun shows, seminars and competitions for NRA members. Net VX score: -250 pts reduction in vulnerability. 

You live in Detroit, Mich., which tops Forbes magazine’s list of Most Dangerous U.S. cities (+50 pts). The city’s homicide rate is 10 times that of the national average (+100 pts). Your police chief admits calling 911 may not be helpful (+200 pts), and urges you to arm yourself. The mere presence of thousands of lawful armed citizens not only does not result in increased criminal activity, it actually serves as a deterrent to crime.

VX Institute Recommendation: Deed a 200-acre tract of Motor City’s abandoned industrial wasteland to the NRA for the construction of a free retirement community for 500 Life members with valid carry permits. Net VX score: -500 pts reduction in vulnerability. 

You live in Chicago (+50 pts). Your city is in the grip of a dramatic rise in homicides: There were 66 murders in May alone—compared to 46 in May of last year (+300 pts). Your mayor, Rahm Emanuel, continues to push one of the most restrictive gun-control schemes in the nation (+300). The police department is in turmoil (+300 pts). The revolving-door criminal justice system continues to release violent criminals back onto the streets (+400 pts). 

VX Institute Recommendation: Take the lakefront real estate once promoted for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art and give it to the NRA for the construction of a nationally recognized training and education center for gun owners, along with a conference center, range facilities and hotel. The constant presence of hundreds of lawfully armed citizens will drastically reduce crime, and the resultant economic boon to the city will boost city tax revenues, to be spent on criminal justice reform. Net VX score: -750 pts reduction in vulnerability.  

Don’t agree with our conclusions? Fine, take your best shot. They laughed at the Theory of Relativity, too. 

But the data is crystal clear: The presence of multitudes of lawfully armed citizens reduces crime. For cash-strapped cities like Detroit, Baltimore and Chicago, who have no effective strategy to halt the rising tide of homicide, well … what do they have to lose? 

They’ve already tried it their way.


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