If you aren't a fan of NASCAR, you probably wouldn't have known the NRA was hosting Sunday's race in Texas. When ESPN reported on the event, they never even mentioned its host. But then came news of the shooting at the NRA 500.
A man died in the middle of the race at Texas Motor Speedway, victim of, of all things, a gunshot wound. It's a sad, tragic accident, and one that the NRA cannot afford to ignore.
On Sunday, a man died while using one of the machines the NRA supports during an event that the NRA sanctioned. At press time, officials say there may have been alcohol involved, but they're ruling 42-year-old Kirk Franklin's death a suicide. He seems to have shot himself in the head in a pick-up truck in the infield of the speedway, somewhere near the backstretch.
It sounds so lonely. So sad.
The shooting is certainly getting more publicity today because of the sponsor of the race, but let me be clear: this is not a time for gun control advocates to celebrate.
No matter which side of the gun debate you are on, Franklin's death is a sad occurrence.
But even as I would caution folks against using this man's death as a time to stick their tongues out and waggle them at the NRA, I would say it's a reason to continue pressure on the organization.
Although its members are known to say that "guns don't kill people, people kill people," the fact is, it was a gun that killed Mr. Franklin and not a pencil or a banana. Only a device specifically designed to propel a bullet took this man's life.
If he was indeed using alcohol, then the gun was not being used properly -- responsible gun owners do not consume alcohol while handling their weapons.
But that's just the problem with guns in America. They aren't always used responsibly. That's why some 32,000 people died from firearms in 2011.
If the NRA wants to sanction having guns in America, that's one thing. Go ahead, sponsor a NASCAR race.
However, that sanction has to come with responsibility. You can't simply say "yes, let's have guns" and continue to railroad people trying to address the necessity of making those guns safer.
It behooves the NRA to do something about the myriad tragedies surrounding guns. Because sticking their heads in the sand isn't working.
What do you think of the NRA's NASCAR event?
Image via purduenila/Flickr