DALLAS — Coach Steve Kerr, one of the NBA’s leading voices on social issues, gave another emotional plea for gun control after at least 18 children and three adults were shot and killed Tuesday at a Texas elementary school just hours before Game 4 of the Western Conference finals.
Steve Kerr on today’s tragic shooting in Uvalde, Texas. pic.twitter.com/lsJ8RzPcmC
— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) May 24, 2022
Shaking with rage and appearing to be on the verge of tears, Kerr said he was “fed up” after 18-year-old gunman opened fire at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, about 350 miles south of Dallas, resulting in the deadliest shooting at a U.S. grade school in almost a decade.
“When are we going to do something?” Kerr said, raising his voice and slamming his hands on the table in frustration. “I’m tired. I’m so tired of getting up here and offering condolences to the devastated families that are out there.”
The Warriors coach took aim at politicians who refuse to pass a bipartisan law that would make background checks mandatory for every gun sale.
“They won’t vote on it because they want to hold onto their own power,” Kerr said. “It’s pathetic. I’ve had enough.”
The bill mentioned by Kerr, HR8, is sponsored by U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson and has been passed by the House, but remains in the Senate. Kerr called out U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and other senators who refuse to address the gun violence epidemic plaguing the nation.
“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? Because that’s what it looks like. That’s what we do every week,” Kerr said.
The death toll rose Tuesday evening to 18 children and three adults. Another three people wounded in the attack are hospitalized in serious condition, Associated Press reported. It was the deadliest shooting at an elementary school since 2012 when a gunmen killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. And it came just eight days after a gunman killed one person and wounded five people at a Taiwanese church in Southern California, and 10 days after a gunman in body armor killed 10 Black shoppers and workers at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York.
The devastating news hits close to home for Kerr, who lost his own father to gun violence. Malcolm Kerr, a university professor and president of the American University of Beirut, was fatally shot outside his office in Lebanon Jan. 18, 1984, when Steve was 18.
“I’ve had enough,” Kerr said. “We’re going to play the game tonight. But I want every person here, every person listening to this, to think about your own child or grandchild, mother or father, sister, brother. How would you feel if this happened to you today?
“We can’t get numb to this.”
Mavericks coach Jason Kidd also opened his pre-game news conference offering condolence to those affected by the shooting, which he said he learned about when he got to American Airlines Center.
“We’ll keep [the victims and their families] in our hearts,” Kidd said. “We truly will play with heavy hearts tonight for the community, for the school of Robb Elementary School. Tough.”
Facing elimination, Kidd said it’ll be challenging to focus on playing basketball when the Texas community is reeling.
“As coaches or fathers, we have kids. People in this room have kids. Elementary school. You just think about what could take place with any of your family or friends at a school,” he said. “This is on-the-run job training. We’re going to try to play the game. We have no choice. The game is not going to be canceled. But we have to find a way to be pro, find a way to win, and move forward.
“But the news of what’s happening, not just here in Texas but throughout our country, is sad.”
Here’s the full transcript of Kerr’s pre-game availability:
“I’m not going to talk about basketball. Nothing’s happened with our team in the last six hours. We’re going to start the same way tonight. Any basketball questions don’t matter.
“Since we left shootaround, 14 children were killed 400 miles from here, and a teacher. In the last 10 days, we’ve had elderly black people killed in a supermarket in Buffalo, we’ve had Asian churchgoers killed in Southern California, now we have children murdered at school.
“When are we going to do something? I’m tired. I’m so tired of getting up here and offering condolences to the devastated families that are out there. I’m so tired. Excuse me. I’m sorry. I’m tired of the moments of silence. Enough.
“There’s 50 Senators right now who refuse to vote on HR8, which is a background check rule that the House passed a couple years ago. It’s been sitting there for two years. There’s a reason they won’t vote on it: to hold onto power.
“I ask you, Mitch McConnell, all of you Senators who refuse to do anything about the violence, school shootings, 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? Because that’s what it looks like. That’s what we do every week.
“So I’m fed up. I’ve had enough. We’re going to play the game tonight. But I want every person here, every person listening to this, to think about your own child or grandchild, mother or father, sister, brother. How would you feel if this happened to you today?
“We can’t get numb to this. We can’t sit here and just read about it and go, well, let’s have a moment of silence. Go Dubs. C’mon, Mavs, let’s go. That’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to go play a basketball game.
“Fifty Senators in Washington are going to hold us hostage. Do you realize that 90 percent of Americans, regardless of political party, want background checks, universal background checks? Ninety percent of us. We are being held hostage by 50 Senators in Washington who refuse to even put it to a vote, despite what we the American people want.
“They won’t vote on it because they want to hold onto their own power. It’s pathetic. I’ve had enough.”