Warriors coach Steve Kerr on Tuesday denounced lawmakers’ inaction to pass gun control legislation after more mass shootings, the latest of which took place in Atlanta on March 16 and in Boulder, Colo., on Monday.
Before Golden State’s Tuesday game against the 76ers, Kerr opened his pregame news conference in front of a black screen that displayed the names of the 18 victims killed in the shootings. Ten were killed in Boulder, and eight in Atlanta; in the latter, the gunman killed six women of Asian descent, prompting outrage at anti-Asian sentiments becoming more prevalent in the United States.
Kerr said it was important to remember the victims not as statistics, but as human beings.
“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.”
The issue of gun-control legislation is personal for Steve Kerr. His father, Malcolm Kerr, was killed as a direct result of gun violence in 1984 in Beirut, Lebanon. The president of the American University of Beirut, Malcolm Kerr was shot twice in the back of the head with suppressed pistols by gunmen from the Islamic Jihad, a Shia Lebanese militia.
Steve Kerr was 19 at the time.
The Warriors coach on Tuesday also criticized U.S. senators who have twice refused to pass into law HR8, a bill that requires background checks for anyone attempting to purchase a gun. In the case of the Atlanta shooting, the gunman bought the weapon — a 9 mm handgun — on the same day he committed the mass shooting.
“We have a congressman from here in Napa, Mike Thompson, who was behind the legislation, the bill HR8, which is the background check that has been passed by the house now two years in a row, that basically 85 to 90 percent of all Americans support. Because the bill is based on the background checks. And just getting people to have to pass a background check before they’re able to purchase a gun.
“The gun in Atlanta was bought that day without a background check. Eight people died as a result. So 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 to the Senate this term. But I am just sort of a loss for words at this point.”
Kerr also singled out Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who criticized attempts to pass legislation as “ridiculous theater.”
“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.”
Kerr is not the only coach to have spoken out on the shootings. Nuggets coach Michael Malone broke down in tears as he read the names of the Boulder victims. The shooting occurred a half-hour away from team headquarters. Colorado Buffaloes coach Tad Boyle, whose team lost in the NCAA Tournament on the same day of the shooting, also weighed in on the shooting.
“I felt an emptiness in my stomach,” Boyle said. “Another senseless act of violence that we’ve experienced as a country many, many times.”
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