Steve Kerr had no desire to talk about basketball ahead of Tuesday’s game between the Golden State Warriors and Dallas Mavericks as he addressed reporters following another devastating school shooting in the United States.
An 18-year-old gunman opened fire Tuesday at a Texas elementary school, killing at least 18 children, officials said. The gunman is dead. The death toll also included three adults, according to state Sen. Roland Gutierrez, who said he was briefed by state police on the fatalities. It was not immediately clear whether that number included the assailant.
It was the deadliest shooting at a US grade school since a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., almost a decade ago. And it came just 10 days after a gunman in body armour killed 10 Black shoppers and workers at a supermarket in Buffalo, NY, in what authorities say was a racist attack.
Kerr, who has been outspoken on matters including gun control and racism before, made an emotional plea to the US Senate to push through Bill HR8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021, which all 50 Republican members have refused to hold a vote on.
“When are we going to do something? I’m tired. I’m so tired of getting up here and offering a tribute to the devastated families that are out there,” Kerr said. “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.”
The bill was reintroduced in the House after stalling in the Senate two years ago after Democratic Rep. Mike Thompson of California, who chairs the congressional task force on gun violence prevention, sponsored the bill.
Supporters of the bill say the legislation is intended to curb gun violence and keep guns out of the hands of people who are barred from owning firearms. Although there are background checks in place preventing people with criminal records from purchasing a firearm, there are loopholes where people can buy guns through private sales.
On Monday the FBI released new statistics that said active shooter incidents are on the rise across the United States and have increased by 97 per cent since 2017.
Gun violence also led to tragedy in Kerr’s own life. His father, Malcolm, was shot and killed by two gunmen in 1984 while serving as the president of the American University of Beirut.
“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,” Kerr said.
“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?”
Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd also spoke up about the situation, opening his pre-game press conference by paying tribute to the victims and family members impacted by the shooting. He also followed Kerr’s lead refusing to talk about basketball given the situation.
“It’s tough. You know, 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,” Kidd told reporters.
“This is on-the-run training job. We’re going to try to play the game. We have no choice. The game is not going to be cancelled. But we have to find a way to be pros, 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.”
–With files from the Associated Press