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Charlie T Waite

NASCAR Takes a Hard Left

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After decades of NASCAR drivers literally turning left for hours every race day (road course races excluded, of course), the governing body appears to be taking a figurative left turn, politically.

K-Var, a retailer in outdoor and shooting sports products, reports that it was told it would need to edit/change an ad submitted earlier this year it had intended to be included in NASCAR’s official program. The problem, apparently, is that the K-Var ad included depictions of “assault-style rifles/sniper rifles.” Presumably, the offending firearm is an AK-variant manufactured by Arsenal.

NASCAR’s official media sales agent told K-Var (as well as other potential advertisers), that the racing organization is undergoing a “gradual shift in (its) position on guns,” which would appear to include NASCAR determining it is now opposed to the lawful manufacture, sale, and/or possession of what it refers to as “assault-style rifles/sniper rifles.” Or, at least, the organization is opposed to advertising such items.

This seems to follow a trend of head-scratching corporate decisions to alienate a significant percentage of current and potential customers.

We’ve seen Dick’s Sporting Goods, Levi Strauss & Co., and several banks decide they needed to offer their corporate support to the extremist anti-gun agenda. In the world of automotive entertainment, we’ve seen monster truck promoters determine that they don’t need to worry about offending law-abiding gun owners and supporters of the Second Amendment. And who can forget Yeti?

As a business strategy, these decisions are odd, to say the least.

Granted, not everyone who wears Levi’s believes in the Second Amendment. Same goes for those seeking banking services, or someone who wants a new soccer ball. Perhaps the CEOs and marketing executives who decided to thumb their corporate noses at gun owners determined they could afford the loss of a large segment of the market.

But NASCAR fans?

If you were to construct a Venn diagram of NASCAR fans and those who support our Right to Keep and Bear Arms, the union would undoubtedly be quite significant. The average race fan likely owns firearms for hunting, sporting purposes, or personal protection; all categories covered under NASCAR’s “assault-style rifles/sniper rifles” misnomers.

The term “assault-style rifle” is simply a derivation of the anti-gun term “assault weapon,” used to describe modern semi-automatic rifles such as the AR-15 and AK platforms. These are the most popular rifles in America, with roughly 16 million of just AR variants in circulation as of 2018. Whether used for hunting, competitive shooting, plinking, or personal protection, law-abiding citizens have owned these kinds of firearms for over half-a-century.

The term “sniper rifle,” on the other hand may be even more troubling for NASCAR to be using. In plain English, they seem to be talking about rifles designed to be precise at great distances. In other words, hunting rifles. One of history’s most famous military snipers, Carlos Hathcock, regularly used a bolt-action .30-06 rifle, the Winchester Model 70. Many readers who hunt have likely used the same rifle when hunting game, and the caliber is one of the most popular hunting rounds.

Chris Kyle, the sniper played by Bradley Cooper in the movie American Sniper, also commonly used bolt-action rifles. One of his favorites was chambered for .300 Win Mag, another extremely common hunting round.

It is not clear if NASCAR is now taking an official position in opposition to semi-automatic rifles—with the AR-15 variants often referred to as America’s Rifle—and bolt action rifles. For years, NASCAR has allowed these items to be advertised in its official publications. Gander Outdoors sponsors the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series, and the sporting goods retailer sells a great many of what NASCAR seems to think are “assault-style rifles/sniper rifles.”

What does seem clear, however, is that NASCAR doesn’t want to see such things advertised in its official publication in the future: a decision that could easily alienate a great many of its most ardent fans. And considering there has been talk about the decline in popularity of NASCAR for several years, the racing organization may want to reconsider its “gradual shift…on guns.”

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