In the wake of a mass shooting Sunday at a Texas church, Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich told reporters after a San Antonio game that his team’s win over the Suns was “pretty meaningless.” In fact, he said, “talking about basketball tonight is probably pretty inappropriate,” and with that, he quickly ended his postgame comments.
On Monday, the Warriors’ Steve Kerr, perhaps second only to Popovich as the NBA coach most likely to speak out on social issues, offered more expansive remarks before his team played a game against the Heat. Asked about gun laws, the 52-year-old former NBA player likened the situation to “a public health issue,” and he cited the example of how increased regulations eventually made cars and roads much safer.
“I think too often we get caught up in political rhetoric — Second Amendment rights, NRA [National Rifle Association] stuff,” Kerr told reporters, after expressing his condolences to the families of the more than two dozen victims. “We have to look at this as it has nothing to do with partisanship, political parties. This has got to be a public safety issue, a public health issue.”
Kerr said he had “read a great article” Monday that compared the state of gun laws to “the automobile industry.” He added, “Apparently, in the 1950s, about nine or 10 times more people then died in auto wrecks than die now.”
“So, what changed over 70 years? Safety measures, right?” Kerr said. “Speed limits, auto regulations, seat belts, car seats, driver’s license, registration and making sure people deserve to drive.
“All these things are just safety issues, and I think we have to somehow get our government to cut through all the crap and get right to the point — the point of fact — which is safety. Which means a lot of things we can do without taking away people’s Second Amendment rights. Let’s do the sensible thing.”
It’s not the first time that Kerr, who has won two NBA titles since taking over the Warriors in 2014, has spoken at length about gun laws. In 2016, shortly after Golden State fell to Cleveland in the NBA Finals, he asked for some extra time on a sports podcast to do something he said he didn’t often do — “get political.”
“When 90 percent of our country wants background checks on gun purchases, and we’ve got our Senate and our House not only voting it down, but using the Bill of Rights as a reason for people to have rights to carry these automatic weapons, and we’re getting people murdered every day at an alarming rate. I just have to get this off my chest — our government is insane. We are insane,” Kerr said.
“And what bugs me is this adherence to the right to bear arms. That was back in 1776. People didn’t own automatic rifles, you had to have a musket in case the redcoats were coming. And the beautiful thing about the Constitution is they left open amendments to change things, because things change over time.
“I kind of think our forefathers would not have okayed automatic weapons to be sold to everybody, if they existed back then. Let’s have some checks. I mean, it’s easier to get a gun than it is a driver’s license. And it’s insane.”
On the podcast, Kerr referred to his father’s 1984 death by gunshots while he was the president of the American University of Beirut. “As someone who’s had a family member shot and killed, it just devastates me every time I read about this stuff, like what happened in Orlando, and it’s even more devastating to see the government just cowing to the NRA,” he said. “The rest of the world thinks we’re insane. We are insane.”
On Monday, Kerr said that “our government has to lead the way, and they can’t just cave in to the NRA just because the NRA wants to make money.” He said that lawmakers “have to put people’s safety and health over the interests of the gun lobby and the gun industry.”
“So, it doesn’t seem like it would be that far of a stretch,” Kerr told reporters, “but for whatever reason, we’re paralyzed, and we’re unable to do anything to protect our citizens. It’s disgusting and it’s a shame.”
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