A visibly angry and shaken Steve Kerr on Tuesday evening condemned senators, particularly Republican leader Mitch McConnell, for failing to act on gun legislation, hours after a gunman killed 18 children and three adults at an elementary school in the west Texas town of Uvalde.
“When are we going to do something?” Kerr, the Golden State Warriors’ head coach, shouted at a press conference before his team was set to take on the Dallas Mavericks in game four of the NBA’s Western Conference Finals. The teams were playing in Dallas, over 300 miles from the site of the massacre.
“I ask you, Mitch McConnell, I ask all of you senators who refuse to do anything about the violence and school shootings and supermarket shootings – I ask you, are you going to put your own desire for power ahead of the lives of our children and our elderly and our churchgoers?” he said. “Because that’s what it looks like.”
Kerr, who refused to discuss basketball during his remarks, was also referring to a mass shooting 10 days ago at a Buffalo grocery store, where a racist gunman targeted mainly Black people, as well as an attack on Asian parishioners at a California church that is being investigated as a hate crime. Both occurred within the past two weeks.
He also mentioned HR8, a bill that would expand background checks for gun purchases. The Democratic-controlled House passed it in 2019, but the measure would need to clear the 60-vote filibuster threshold in the evenly divided Senate. Republicans, many of whom are backed by the National Rifle Association, have successfully swatted away several attempts to impose restrictions on access to guns.
“We’re being held hostage by 50 senators in Washington who refuse to even put it to a vote, despite what we, the American people, want,” Kerr said. “They won’t vote on it, because they want to hold on to their own power. It’s pathetic.” The coach slammed the table for emphasis several times during his plea.
Kerr made his remarks not long before President Joe Biden addressed the nation Tuesday night. “We as a nation have to ask when in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby. When in God’s name do we do what we all know in our gut needs to be done?” the president said.
The Golden State Warriors’ official Twitter and YouTube accounts posted the video of Kerr’s emotional plea for real action on gun violence. Venture capitalist Joe Lacob is the team’s majority owner.
Kerr’s father, Malcolm Kerr, was killed by gunmen in Lebanon in 1984 while serving as president of the American University of Beirut. The coach and former NBA player has often weighed in on social issues and has been an advocate for gun control.
“We can’t get numb to this,” Kerr said Tuesday evening.