Pro Prose: Kerr’s speech showed more backbone than nation’s leaders
In a pregame press conference full of people who had dedicated their lives to covering basketball, Golden State Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr made it clear that talking sports was off the table.
“I’m not going to talk about basketball,” Kerr said. “Any basketball questions don’t matter.”
Kerr proceeded to deliver an impassioned three-minute message about the horrific tragedy that occurred in Uvalde, Tex. on Tuesday when an 18-year-old killed 21 people, including 19 children, in the second deadliest school shooting in United States history.
Kerr, who lost his father to gun violence when he was just 18 years old, was full of emotion as he pleaded with the leaders of our nation to respond appropriately to not just the massacre in Uvalde but also the hundreds of deadly shootings that preceded the event.
“When are we going to do something?” Kerr yelled, hitting his hands on a table in frustration. “I’m so tired of getting up here and offering condolences to the devastated families that are out there. I’m tired of the moments of silence.”
Kerr’s frustration is shared by an overwhelming majority of the country. Nearly 90% of Americans support background checks for all gun purchases, yet bills that would establish expanded background checks have stalled in the Senate.
After the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting, in which 26 people were killed by a gunman, members of the Democratic party introduced a bill called H.R. 8. The bill, which would require background checks on all gun sales, was passed by the House of Representatives in 2021. Unfortunately, the bill is stuck on the Senate floor.
“There’s 50 senators right now who refuse to vote on H.R. 8 … and there’s a reason they won’t vote on it: to hold on to power,” Kerr said.
The National Rifle Association has its hand deep inside the pants of the Republican party since forming its own political action committee in 1977. According to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, around 24 Republican senators have received contributions from the NRA. Of those, 16 senators have received over $1 million.
Mitt Romney, a Republican senator who has received over $13 million from the NRA, tweeted on Tuesday, “I offer prayer and condolence but know that it is grossly inadequate. We must find answers.”
Prayers and condolences are indeed grossly inadequate, but so has been the United States’ response to gun violence in this country. People die every day from gun violence. The problem is plaguing the country and elected officials are cowering in their response.
“Are you going to put your own desire for power ahead of the lives of our children?” Kerr said, addressing the same 50 senators who have let H.R. 8 gather dust as people are shot down daily.
Speaking of inadequacy, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who last year signed into law a preposterous bill that restricts abortion access for women in the state, continues to outdo himself. Abbott will be delivering a pre-recorded speech for the 2022 annual NRA meeting in Houston on Friday. Former President Donald Trump will also be in attendance. This appalling timing has led many to demand the NRA cancel the event. They won’t.
Since Abbott took office in 2015, Texas has experienced six mass shootings; yet, the Republican governor has signed 22 pieces of legislation that make it easier to buy and carry a gun in Texas. With the NRA on his shoulder, Abbott has refused to even attempt to protect Texans from gun violence.
Former Congressman Beto O’Rourke called Abbott out in a recent press conference. He was removed after criticizing Abbott’s passivity when it comes to gun laws.
“These massacres are not natural disasters, acts of God or random,” O’Rourke said. “They are totally predictable, direct consequences of the choices made by Greg Abbott and the majority of those in the Texas legislature.”
In response to calls for action, Uvalde County commissioner John Yeackle said, “This is not going to be the time to talk about gun policy … Right now, feelings are so raw.”
When Hurricane Katrina hit the city of New Orleans in 2005, people didn’t wait until the grieving was over to help the community. That’s not how grieving works. On Tuesday, parents were forced to wait on DNA tests to confirm the loss of their children because the damage from the assault rifles rendered their babies unrecognizable. That’s a grieving process that never ends.
“It’s so easy for young, mental kids to get guns and randomly shoot innocent victims,” said Lydia Martinez Delgado, whose niece was killed in the shooting, in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. “It shouldn’t have to be like this: teachers, parents and students afraid to go to school or send their kids to school.”
When tragedy strikes, mourning is important but so is action. Steve Kerr, Beto O’Rourke and most importantly, family members of the dead children are calling for just that.
“We can’t sit here and just read about it and go ‘Well, let’s have a moment of silence, yeah go Dubs. Come on Mavs,’” Kerr said.
Kerr is right. We cannot numb ourselves to the everyday tragedies caused by gun violence in this country. Legislative action is more necessary than ever in order to prevent these senseless acts. Republican senators, and the few Democrats who accept money from the NRA, aren’t sneaky. It’s abundantly clear why they refuse to enact change, and as Kerr put it: “It’s pathetic. I’ve had enough.”
Patrick Warren is a senior providing updates and opinions on all things professional sports. He is also the sports editor.