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Time and again in recent years, Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr has spoken loudly and clearly about his disgust over the scourge of gun violence and his belief that the United States desperately needs more stringent gun control legislation. On Monday, in the wake of another senseless massacre on U.S. soil — this time at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, leaving at least 26 dead, marking the 377th mass shooting in this country in 2017 — Kerr struck the same somber note once more.
Unlike his former coach and friend Gregg Popovich, Kerr had the benefit of distance from the tragedy, and spoke with reporters about baketball as his Warriors prepared to take on the Miami Heat on Monday night. But Kerr — whose father was shot and killed by assassins in Beirut in 1984 — also spoke at some length about what happened in Sutherland Springs, what keeps happening in this country, and what he thinks our nation’s lawmakers might be able to do to address it:
Tough question. I have my thoughts. First, I want to just express my condolences to the people involved — the victims, the survivors, people directly affected. It’s just awful, and that’s the prevailing sentiment, I think, from all of us today. You know, to solve it … I think we almost have to look at it like a public health issue. I think too often, we get caught up in political rhetoric — you know, Second Amendment rights, [National Rifle Association] stuff. We have to look at this as, it has nothing to do with partisanship or political parties. It’s got to be a public safety issue. A public health issue.
I read a great article today that talked about comparing this to the automobile industry. Apparently, in the 1950s, about nine or 10 times more people then died in auto wrecks than die right now. So, what changed over 70 years? Well, safety measures, right? Speed limits. Auto regulations. Seatbelts. Car seats. Driver’s license registration and making sure people deserve to drive. I mean, all these things are just safety issues.
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, you know, a lot of things that we can do without taking away people’s Second Amendment rights. Let’s do the sensible thing. But our government has to lead the way, and they can’t just cave into the NRA just because the NRA wants to make money. They have to put people’s safety and health over the interest of the gun lobby and the gun industry. So, it doesn’t seem like it would be that far of a stretch, but for whatever reason, we’re paralyzed and we’re not able to do anything to protect our citizens. And it’s disgusting, and it’s a shame.
If this sounds awfully familiar to you, it might be because you read the same article Kerr did — “How to Reduce Shootings,” by Nicholas Kristof, in the New York Times. Or it might be because you heard Kerr espouse similar points of view the last time we had a horrific, unconscionable and senses-shattering mass shooting that claimed dozens of lives — just five weeks ago, in Las Vegas.
“I hope we can do more than just offer victims our thoughts and prayers,” Kerr said after the shooting in Las Vegas. “We’ve been offering victims thoughts and prayers for three decades. We need to offer them something else.”
I’d like to say I’m optimistic that our legislators will get to that point soon. If we’re being honest, though, I think it’s much more likely that I’ll be writing another post very much like this, with the same questions about how we continue to let these atrocities unfold, before that happens.
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