Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy is trying to stop a NASCAR race–sponsored by the National Rifle Association (NRA)–from ever airing.
The Democrat wrote a letter to Rupert Murdoch, chairman and CEO of News Corp., asking that his Fox network not air Saturday’s race. The Sprint Cup event, in Ft. Worth Texas, will be called the NRA 500.
Guns are already part of the tradition at the Texas Motor Speedway. The winner of the Cup race gets to fire off a six-shooter in the victory lane. Plus, the winner of the pole wins a rifle.
“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 in the letter, which was sent to Murdoch on Thursday. “The celebration of guns is inappropriate in the immediate wake of the Newtown massacre,” he added, insisting the race “sends a harmful signal to the families affected by gun violence.”
NASCAR, which brings in around $3 billion in sponsorship money each year (two times what the NFL collects), said it will “take a closer look at our [sponsorship] approval process moving forward.”
Murdoch and Fox have yet to comment, but the conservative network’s head honcho is known for his pro gun-control stance. Days after the mass school shooting in Newtown, Conn. in December, Murdoch took to Twitter and asked “when will politicians find courage to ban automatic weapons.” He also called for “bold leadership action.”
In March, when the NRA announced it would be holding the racing event, Wayne LaPierre, the group’s executive vice president declared in a video message that “NRA members and NASCAR fans love their country and everything that is good and right about America. We salute our flag, volunteer in our churches and communities, cherish our families and we love racing.”
Following criticism of the event, Eddie Gassage, president of Texas Motor Speedway, insisted to the AP that “It’s not about politics. It’s about sports marketing.”
Murphy’s letter was sent the same day the Senate accrued the 60 votes needed to kick off debate on gun control legislation, despite a group of Republicans who threatened to filibuster.