U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) wrote a letter to News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch on Thursday, urging him to reconsider airing an NRA-sponsored NASCAR race on Fox.
In the letter, Murphy called the NRA 500, which is set to take place Saturday at the Texas Motor Speedway, “inappropriate in the wake of the Newtown massacre.” In the months following the massacre, Murphy has gone on something of a personal crusade against the NRA, calling the group “radical.”
The race has a tradition celebrating the winner by firing six-shooters filled with blanks in victory lane.
With this letter, Murphy is likely to irk detractors on both a First and Second Amendment basis.
Murdoch, though, has been an unlikely source of a push for new gun legislation in the wake of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. In the wake of the massacre, he urged politicians to “find the courage to ban assault weapons.”
The full text of the letter is below:
Dear Mr. Murdoch:
I write today to urge you to not broadcast NASCAR’s NRA 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 13th. This race, which is being sponsored by the National Rifle Association (NRA), is going to take place during the Senate’s consideration of legislation to reduce gun violence. The race not only brings national attention to an organisation 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. This celebration of guns is inappropriate in the immediate wake of the Newtown massacre. But most importantly, broadcasting this race, which will highlight the NRA and its radical agenda during this time, sends a harmful signal to the families affected by gun violence, as well as the millions of Americans who support sensible gun control measures and enjoy your sports programming.
The horror that unfolded on December 14th at Sandy Hook Elementary School has sparked a national conversation about the adequacy of our gun laws. You, News Corporation and its subsidiaries, including Fox News, should contribute and continue to cover this discussion. 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.
Shortly after the tragedy in Newtown, you called on policymakers and the President to strengthen our gun laws, asking, “when will politicians find courage to ban automatic weapons?” This valid question will be answered when the Senate considers major reforms to our gun laws in early to mid-April. As a senator, I can tell you that many of us possess the courage, and will strongly advocate for sensible gun reforms to take assault weapons and high-capacity magazines off our streets and require all gun purchasers to submit for a background check.
You also challenged President Obama to show bold leadership on this issue after he addressed the nation. I believe that the President has shown incredible leadership since the tragedy by trying to help our country, my state, and the community of Newtown heal in the wake of this terrible event. I would like to make a similar challenge to you. 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 organisation that is currently standing in the way of meaningful progress on this issue. Today’s NRA bears little resemblance to the one of its founding. It stokes fear and perpetuates a perverse interpretation of the Second Amendment in order to sell more guns and fuel larger donations from gun manufacturers. After the events of Newtown, Aurora, Oak Creek, and so many other senseless tragedies, the NRA continues to say that the only solution to gun violence is more guns. It even disavows common sense measures, like universal background checks for gun purchases – a policy that enjoys the support of 74 per cent of its members and that it advocated for in 1999.
Considering your support of sane gun control measures and the extreme nature of the NRA, I urge you to not broadcast this race on April 13th. Inserting Fox Sports in this debate at this critical time will give credence to an extreme organisation that is opposed to reasonable policies to stem gun violence. Thank you in advance for your consideration.
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