NBC Sports

Kerr, touched by gun violence, humanizes mass shooting victims

NBC Sports
Warriors' Steve Kerr

Their names, outlined on a screen in the background, sent an unspoken message of the latest spasm of gratuitous violence and repercussive grief to smack America upside its cold heart, stubborn head and corrupt halls of government.

They’re gone, all 18 of them, murdered in two mass shootings, one week apart, by men who were able to buy weapons of war to turn them on innocents.

We should all be sick of it and angry about it, but Warriors coach Steve Kerr, with good reason, is at or near the front of the line among the outraged.

“You notice the names behind me on the screen, the names of the victims in both Atlanta and Denver over the last two weeks, over the mass shootings that we have suffered,” Kerr said, opening his pregame video conference Tuesday.

“It’s important to reference their names,” he continued. “These are human beings. These are people who have been lost. And 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.”

Ten people were killed in a mass shooting Monday in Boulder, Colo. Eight were killed March 16 in a mass shooting in metropolitan Atlanta. The suspect in Georgia was found to have bought a gun hours before the shooting. The suspect in Colorado was found to have bought an AR-15 last week, six days before walking into a supermarket and firing upon shoppers and employees.

 

The AR-15 is designed to maximize killing efficiency. It is built for war, but it is legal in the United States because the ban on such weapons wasn't renewed in 2004. The weapon is utilized in many mass shootings in America, which consistently ranks No. 1 in the world in the inglorious category of mass shootings.

The destruction wrought over the past few days has many entertainers and sports figures speaking out. President Joe Biden on Tuesday urged representatives to pass a law reimplementing the ban on assault weapons.

Denver Nuggets coach Michael Malone broke down Tuesday when addressing the tragedy that unfolded 30 miles away. Other NBA coaches and franchises are expressing sympathy.

Kerr, however, has a more personal connection to such incidents. He knows the feeling of losing someone to unprovoked gun violence. His dad, Malcolm Kerr, was the president of American University in Beirut in 1984 when accosted by gunmen and assassinated on campus.

“That’s why this issue is very near and dear to my heart,” Kerr said. “My family had to deal with the loss of my dad and my mom’s husband. And we’ve had to deal with the aftermath ever since. We don’t want other people to have to deal with what we’ve dealt with.”

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Kerr cited the efforts of various groups that have assembled in recent years with the purpose of seeking safer and saner gun laws, such as the Giffords Law Center, Brady: United Against Gun Violence and Sandy Hook Promise. Each of those has been personally impacted by gun violence.

And while some have made inroads toward more stringent guns laws in America, there always is opposition. Republican Sen. Ted Cruz on Tuesday referred to Democratic members moving -- once again -- to act on the issue as playing “ridiculous theater.”

Tell it to the families of those 18 victims trying to cope with the latest episode of mass shootings in America.

Clearly, it’s a national crisis. Just as clearly, it is rife with division.

“I’m just sort of at a loss for words at this point,” Kerr said. “We can’t just sit here and accept that we’re going to allow our fellow citizens to mow each other down with weapons of war. It’s the most disgusting thing that exists within our country. It’s ridiculous. It’s disgusting. It’s devastating. There are so many people out there who are suffering.

 

“We have to do something about it.”

If that sounds familiar, it is. It has been said before by many, including Kerr, who feels it in his gut. So should we all.

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