The suicide of a 42-year-old Texas man at an NRA-sponsored NASCAR race over the weekend was the cherry on top of a critical maelstrom the racing league faced in the lead-up to the event. But it also brings up an important question: are you allowed to bring a gun to an NRA-sponsored NASCAR race?
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The Tarrant County (Texas) medical examiner ruled Sunday that Kirk Franklin of Saginaw, Texas, shot himself in the head. Franklin's body was found in the back of a pickup truck in the Texas Motor Speedway infield during Saturday's NRA 500 race. The details are fairly sketchy right now, but according to two different police spokespeople, Franklin got into an argument with other spectators big enough to draw "several" witnesses, and alcohol may have played a part, but no one was ever in any danger. Again, that's according to the police.
But the hard fact that a man was able to bring a gun into a live sporting event with thousands of attendees raises some questions. Questions like, why did a man have a gun inside Texas Motor Speedway? According to track rules, no one is allowed to bring a gun inside the event. It's stated very plainly on the track website: "Guests are not allowed to bring these items into Texas Motor Speedway - weapons or firearms, fireworks, illegal substances and items restricted by local, state and federal laws." But this is Texas, and this is NASCAR. Spectators are permitted to drive trucks and RVs onto the track's infield to watch the race from, literally, the center of the action. And while the course rules say everything is subject to inspection, the track clearly isn't exactly border-level secure.
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As Yahoo!'s Nick Bromberg points out, this isn't the first time someone at Texas Motor Speedway has been injured by a gun shot. In 2008, a woman was hit by a stray bullet after it tore through her RV roof. Now, there's a grain of salt to this: the shot allegedly came from someone shooting into the air five miles away from the track, but that's still an ugly record.
There's little chance race organizers knew about the death at the time, but considering everything, this video of Kyle Busch firing pistols into the air after winning the race isn't a good look for anyone involved. They're blanks, but still.