By Terrance Turner
May 24, 2022
At around 11:33 this morning, 19 children and at least two adults were killed in a shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. 18-year-old Salvatore Ramos shot his own grandmother before crashing his car and then entering Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, a town about 85 miles west of San Antonio. The gunman opened fire on both teachers and children before being shot to death by authorities. Robb Elementary teaches second through fourth grade, meaning that third- and fourth-graders are among the dead.
Tonight, six hours away in Dallas, the Golden State Warriors are facing the Dallas Mavericks in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals. But Warriors coach Steve Kerr (who lost a father to gun violence) did not want to talk about the game when he met with reporters today.
“I’m not going to talk about basketball,” Kerr started his press conference. “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 [pregame] 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?” he asked, slamming his palms on the table. “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 HR 8, which is a background check rule that the House passed a couple years ago. It’s been sitting there for two years. (According to ESPN, Kerr has on multiple occasions pointed to H.R.8, a bill that would tighten background check rules for firearm purchases. That bill passed in the U.S. House of Representatives in early 2021, but it never got to the Senate floor.) “And there’s a reason they won’t vote on it; to hold on to power.
So 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% 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!” Kerr raged, slamming the table again. “It’s pathetic. I’ve had enough.” With that, he abruptly got up and left the conference.
Kerr’s anguish is real; he comes by this passion honestly. His father, Malcolm Kerr, was a university professor and president of the American University in Beirut, Lebanon in the Middle East; he was shot and killed by two gunmen there on Jan. 18, 1984. His death was such a significant story that it even prompted a response from then-President Ronald Reagan:
“Terrorism must not be allowed to take control of the lives, actions, or future of ourselves and our friends.”