Conn. Senator to Rupert Murdoch: Don't Air NRA-500 Race

By LeAnne Gendreau and Sam Schulz
|  Thursday, Apr 11, 2013  |  Updated 7:24 PM PDT
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Sen. Chris Murphy is asking media mogul Rupert Murdoch not to broadcast a NASCAR race sponsored by the National Rifle Association, amid intensifying debate in Washington over new measures to curb violence.

The NRA 500 race is set to air April 13 on Fox Sports, which is owned by Murdoch's News Corp.

The freshman senator from Connecticut, who has emerged as one of the Senate's most vocal gun control proponents following the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, called that race "inappropriate" in its celebration of guns.

"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 a letter to Murdoch.

"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," it continued.

"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 organization that is opposed to reasonable policies to stem gun violence," Murphy wrote.

Murphy has been a central figure in the national debate over gun control, which ramped up after 20 first-graders and six educators were gunned down at Sandy Hook in Newtown, Conn.

The Senate voted Thursday to begin debate on a new package of gun control proposals, months after President Barack Obama formed a task force to come up with recommendations to reduce gun violence in response to Sandy Hook.

Last month, Murphy sent a letter to NASCAR CEO Brian France, asking him to reconsider his decision to sanction the race and prevent the NRA from having the title role.

Murphy’s entire letter to Murdoch is posted below:


April 11, 2013
 
Mr. Rupert Murdoch
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
News Corporation
1211 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10036
 
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 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. 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 organization 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 percent 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 organization that is opposed to reasonable policies to stem gun violence.  Thank you in advance for your consideration.
 
Sincerely,
 
 
Christopher S. Murphy
United States Senator

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