Senator says NRA-sponsored NASCAR race is ‘inappropriate’
NRA Chief Wayne LaPierre
(CNN) — The National Rifle Association-sponsored NASCAR race slated for this weekend is “inappropriate in the immediate wake of the Newtown massacre,” Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut wrote to the race’s broadcaster on Thursday.
“The race not only brings national attention to an organization that has been the face of one side of this heated debate, it also features the live shooting of guns at the end of the race,” Murphy wrote to Rupert Murdoch, the chairman and chief executive of News Corporation, which owns the channel Fox Sports where the race will be broadcast.
In March, the Texas Motor Speedway announced the NRA had sponsored the NASCAR Sprint Cup event on April 13, which marked the first time the gun owners group has sponsored a race in NASCAR’s top series.
Last year, the organization sponsored a Nationwide Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
The April race had been promoted as the Texas 500 after the track’s deal with Samsung ended last year.
The winners of races at the track are often given two revolvers and a cowboy hat while taking photographs in victory lane. The fastest qualifier is awarded a shotgun.
In his letter to Murdoch, Murphy cited the News Corp. boss’ past support for tighter gun control laws in the United States, including a message Murdoch posted on Twitter shortly after the December Newtown shooting.
“Nice words from POTUS on shooting tragedy, but how about some bold leadership action?” Murdoch wrote.
“I would like to make a similar challenge to you,” Murphy told the media mogul in his letter Thursday. “You should play a constructive role in our national dialogue by refraining from broadcasting the NRA 500. By airing this race you will be strengthening the brand of a radical organization that is currently standing in the way of meaningful progress on this issue.”
Fox Sports remains under contract with NASCAR to broadcast certain Sprint Cup races.
This article was written by CNN’s Kevin Liptak. CNN’s Steve Almasy contributed to this report. TM & © 2012 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.