A Connecticut senator still grappling with the Newtown shootings took the gun-control debate into a new arena on Thursday, asking Fox to pull the NRA 500 NASCAR race from TV on Saturday.
Democrat Sen. Chris Murphy addressed the letter to Fox owner Rupert Murdoch, writing that airing the race will “give credence to an extreme organization that is opposed to reasonable policies to stem gun violence.”
The National Rifle Association is a new sponsor to NASCAR, the most popular racing league in the United States. The NRA 500 is set for Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.
The winner of the race receives a cowboy hat and fires six-shooters, loaded with blanks, into the air from the winner’s circle.
Murphy appealed to Murdoch’s own stated opposition to guns.
“Given that you have been outspoken in your support of gun reform, it is the height of irony that some would perceive that your company would now essentially endorse the NRA’s extreme position against such laws by broadcasting this event,” Murphy wrote.
Fox representatives didn’t comment on the letter, but NASCAR said it’s not willing to wade into the political forum.
“NASCAR has no official position on the gun rights debate,” representative David Higdon told the Charlotte Observer.
“Our fans, racing teams and industry partners come from all walks of life and thus have varying points of views and opinions. … As a sport, we are in the business of bringing people together for entertainment, not political debate.”
In a sport where sponsors rule, drivers did what they could to avoid getting dragged into the argument.
“I can’t speak for everybody but I can speak for myself in saying that I would really rather stay out of politics and just race,” NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski told the Associated Press.
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