Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr had a special backdrop behind him when he spoke with reporters on Tuesday night before their game with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Kerr sat in front of a black screen that had the names of the 18 victims in the two latest mass shootings in the United States, both from the Atlanta area last week and from the grocery store in Boulder, Colorado, on Monday.
“I think it’s, first of all, important to reference their names,” Kerr said. “These are human beings. These are people who have been lost. The thought of the mothers and fathers and sisters, brothers, daughters and sons who are grieving right now with the loss of the people behind me is just devastating — particularly in the wake of what is just a common occurrence in our country and an inability of our representatives in government of doing anything about it.”
A 21-year-old man was charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder on Tuesday after he allegedly opened fire at a Boulder grocery store on Monday. Ten people, including a police officer, were killed in the attack.
Last week, a 21-year-old man was charged after allegedly shooting and killing eight people at three spas in the Atlanta area. Six of his victims were women of Asian descent, which again stoked fear and outrage throughout the Asian-American community.
Steve Kerr calls on lawmakers: ‘I am just sort of at a loss for words’
Kerr, one of the most outspoken figures in the NBA, has long been an advocate for gun control and has been calling for meaningful change for years — something, in part, that was sparked by his father’s assassination in Lebanon in the 1980s while he was playing at Arizona.
Kerr has hosted a town hall about the issue in the Bay Area and helped draw support for both “Vote For Our Lives” and “March For Our Lives,” groups that were started by students after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in 2018.
Like he has done plenty of times in the past, Kerr again called out lawmakers for not doing anything meaningful to help solve the problem. He specifically addressed one bill that was passed again in the House of Representatives earlier this month that would expand background checks on people trying to buy or transfer a firearm in the country — a concept that an overwhelming majority of Americans support.
Kerr pointed to the Atlanta shootings as a perfect example of why that bill could help — as the suspect purchased the weapon allegedly used in the attacks that same day legally, per The New York Times.
“The gun in Atlanta was bought that day without a background check. Eight people died as a result,” Kerr said. “This bill was passed by the House, it hasn’t even been presented in the Senate. It wasn’t last year because of the makeup of the Senate. I imagine it will be presented in the Senate this term, but I am just sort of at a loss for words at this point.”
Steve Kerr to Ted Cruz: ‘This could be your family’
Kerr then spoke directly to Republican lawmakers and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz — who on Tuesday called the latest push for background checks after the Colorado shooting “ridiculous theater,” according to The Austin American-Statesman.
“Ted Cruz, this could be your family. This could be your friend. This could be somebody very close to you,” Kerr said. “If it happened, would you not want there to be something in place where there was a background check? It’s just mind-boggling to me that we can just continue to cater to the very small minority in this country.”
Cruz and other Republicans who are ignoring the issue and the bill that was passed by the House of Representatives, Kerr said, simply aren’t listening to the people they were elected to represent.
“We have to address it,” Kerr said. “We can’t just turn it into a political issue and romanticize this idea that Americans get to have guns and that it’s a God-given right. I mean, what does that even mean? Did guns exist when God created the Earth? I wasn’t aware of that.
“I think everybody is sick and tired of the rhetoric that’s out there, particularly amongst the Republican Senators who refuse to even vote on [that bill]. We’re not being represented.”
Basketball world speaks out after Boulder shooting
Plenty around the sports world spoke out after the shooting on Monday, including Colorado coach Tad Boyle following their loss in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament on Monday night.
“Win or lose tonight, I just felt an emptiness in my stomach,” Boyle said. “Another senseless act of violence that we've experienced as a country, many, many times. And so it puts this game in perspective. It certainly puts losing in perspective.”
Denver Nuggets coach Michael Malone broke down while addressing the massacre on Tuesday, too.
“I think we all handle things differently,” Malone said after naming all 10 victims, including police officer Eric Talley. “Obviously, I think we're all tired of it. That's an understatement. I know, for me, you get so caught up in the job and basketball ... We get judged on wins and losses, but if you take a step back and you put yourself in one of those families, what do you feel?
“This is a game, a game I love, I have a passion for, but I think about Eric Talley and his seven kids. That's what I think about, and I'm just heartbroken for them and everybody else, and hopefully we as a country, we as a state, can find a way to be better.”
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