Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr has spoken extensively on gun control and a desire for change in an opinion piece followingmass shootings in both Louisville and Nashville.
Amid widespread discussion on the Second Amendment, including provocative comments from Kerr's former coach Gregg Popovich, the Warriors play-caller penned his thoughts broadly while also reflecting on his May 2022 speech on gun violence.
'The only thing that's ever going to change our gun laws in this country is if we have enough voters who are fed up and want to force change – for the safety of our children and communities,' Kerr told sports non-profit, Laureus.
'The only way that happens is through conversation. Those conversations are now happening.I see hope.'
Kerr's father was shot to death by terrorists in Beirut during 1984, in what has indisputably shaped his stance on the delicate discussion.
Legendary NBA coach Steve Kerr has consistently been in favor of further gun restrictions
'I understand what people are going through when they lose a family member in these circumstances. Total heartbreak. Devastation.
'Those are my first thoughts when I hear about another shooting. And then I feel anger. But despite it all, I see hope.'
Despite expressing his dismay at mass shootings throughout the years, including a suggestion the the Second Amendment 'is leading to mass murder', the left-leaning Kerr sees today's youth as catalysts for change to the fabric of America.
'What's happening nationwide is we are, perhaps unwittingly, growing a generation of people who are going to flip things on its head. In this country, we have a lot that we have to fix.
'The younger generation – they're living that, suffering from it. But there are so many impressive young people, who are making it their business to seek change. Before long, those are the people who are going to be influencing and winning elections.
'Any type of societal change takes time. But I have an optimism that the younger generation will be the ones to make real change.'
Kerr has consistently made impassioned pleas for alterations to gun laws in America, and in turn, hammered republicans for not advocating a need for change.
'More than anything, we need to have senators and congressmen on the republican side who can run on a campaign of gun safety and gun violence prevention and still think they can win,' Kerr said in January, via NBC Sports, aftermass shootings in California's Half Moon Bay and Monterey Park.
Kerr's father,Malcolm Kerr, was shot to death by terrorists in Beirut, Lebanon during 1984
'As long as all those candidates think they can't win their election if they support gun-violence prevention, gun-safety measures, common-sense laws, it's been proven that most of those people are going to put their job and their power ahead of the lives of their fellow citizens.'
'There’s a reason we don’t allow tanks in the streets,' Kerr added. 'There’s a reason we don’t allow automatic weapons. So, why did we draw the line at semiautomatic weapons? Those have been unbelievably deadly in most of these mass shootings. There’s no reason.'
Kerr has routinely pontificated on a range of social and political issues but has noticeably remained mum on human rights discussions regarding China -- which according to a 2022 ESPN article, makes the NBA approximately $5billion annually.
The former Bulls star admitted to regretting his unsupportive stance - for whichthen-President Trump labeled him 'weak' and pathetic' - when then-Houston GM, now Philadelphia president, Daryl Morey tweeted in support of pro-democracy Hong Kong protestors in 2019.
Steve Kerr has no comment on NBA’s China issues. He comments on every Trump tweet and can’t support democracy in China? What a complete and total coward. pic.twitter.com/Fr4FJIaOW0— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) October 8, 2019
'I handled it really poorly,' Kerr told Candice Buckner in 2020. 'I was frankly sort of tongue tied. I'm sitting there trying to figure out what I'm supposed to say to make sure I don't put the league in jeopardy but also trying to find the right balance and I realize it was probably the one time over the years when I haven't just spoken my heart and I sort of got caught in this political hail storm.
'It was very uncomfortable because it wasn't a topic I was very comfortable with and the circumstances were really strange. 'I would first of all back up Daryl,' he added. 'I would just say Daryl, has a right, as an American, to free speech. He can say anything he wants and we should support him in that and that's the main message.'
Kerr has also chosen not to speak on issues relating to the inordinate gun murders in cities such as Chicago -- where he played between 1993-1998 -- and Philadelphia. According to a December 2022 Brown University study, young men in those cities' worst neighborhoodsare more likely to be shot and killed than those who fought on the bloodiest front-lines in Afghanistan and Iraq.
San Antonio coach Popovich angrily decried the Second Amendment prior to the Spurs' final game of the NBA regular season in Dallas, after themass murder of six -including three children - at a Nashville private Christian school by a 28-year-old transgender ex-student.
San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich went on a nine-minute rant regarding gun control
'They're going to cloak all this stuff [in] the myth of the Second Amendment, the freedom,' Popovich told reporters at the time. 'You know, it's just a myth. It's a joke. It's just a game they play. I mean, that's freedom.
'Is it freedom for kids to go to school and try to socialize and try to learn and be scared to death that they might die that day?'
Popovich also critiqued the expulsion of Democrat Representatives Justin Jones and Justin Pearson for their roles in the shocking sceneson the Tennessee House floor this month. Some labeled it an insurrection, while others described it as a protest.
Both Popovich and Kerr blasted the Trump Administration, with the latter describing America's leadership as 'gutless' under No. 45 in light of the 2019 El Paso and Dayton mass shootings.
'I think about it all the time. Somebody could walk in the door in the gym right now and start spraying us with an AR-15,' Kerr told reporters at the time. 'They could. It might happen because we're all vulnerable, whether we go to a concert, a church, the mall or go to the movie theater or a school.
'The second amendment is about the right to defend yourself. The only thing that second amendment is doing is leading to mass murder right now. This is all just insanity.'
Kerr won three titles as a player with the Bulls before winning another two under Popovich
STEVE KERR: I SEE HOPE
Steph Curry walked up, stuck his fist out and looked me in the eye. I knew exactly what he was saying.
Well done, coach.
Fifteen minutes earlier, I had sat down for a press conference ahead of Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals. It was May 24, 2022. Earlier that day, 19 school children and two teachers were killed by a teenager with a semi-automatic rifle at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, a few hundred miles from where my Golden State Warriors were about to play the Mavericks.
It was so hard to think about basketball. I decided I was going to say something. I didn't know what. So, I just spoke from the heart.
I'm not going to talk about basketball, I began.
I am a survivor of gun violence. My father was shot and killed in Beirut in 1984. I understand what people are going through when they lose a family member in these circumstances. Total heartbreak. Devastation.
Those are my first thoughts when I hear about another shooting. And then I feel anger. But despite it all, I see hope.
The only thing that's ever going to change our gun laws in this country is if we have enough voters who are fed up and want to force change – for the safety of our children and communities. The only way that happens is through conversation. Those conversations are now happening.
I see hope.
Athletes, musicians, artists – people who are in the limelight can make an impact in a way that politicians can't. It's about using our platform, knowing that a lot of people are watching. If those people pay attention, it becomes a conversation.
I don't know if advocacy is something that can be taught. An athlete has to be comfortable speaking up in public, and there's a lot that goes into that. I feel comfortable speaking out because my coach Gregg Popovich spoke out. I never sat down with him and said, 'Hey, what do I need to think about, when I speak out?' I just watched him and was blown away by his courage. Then I realized he was inspired by other people in the same way.
You can go back to the 1968 Olympics, when the two American sprinters, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, held their fists up with black gloves on. That took incredible courage. We had Tommie come and visit our team a couple of years ago. He told us why he did what he did and the repercussions those actions had for him afterwards.
A strong team culture breeds success, in the form of NBA titles and recognition such as our nomination for the Laureus World Team of the Year Award. I've thought a lot about how to build a culture of success at the Warriors. Culture is really nothing more than values. Examples like Tommie are the best way to teach others. I have so much respect for the young athletes in the last few years who have talked about their own mental health. That was taboo when I played. Think how many hundreds of thousands of young people that has impacted and allowed them to say, 'Okay, it's all right to speak publicly about this'. That's how this should work.
I see hope.
Live Free is a grassroots organization in Oakland, East Bay, close to the Chase Center in San Francisco, where we play in the NBA. It works hard on gun safety and gun violence prevention. I met their executive director Mike McBride just before the pandemic. We hit it off immediately. He's a really charismatic guy, got huge empathy, a leader in his community.
Live Free go into the community and gather together all the people involved in gun violence. Every single touch point: the people who are actually committing crimes – the shooters – victims, family members, politicians, police, mentors, social service organizations. All of them are connected and communicate together. It's the only way everyone can see the big picture. Otherwise, you're just having a series of conversations without a link to one another and not really accomplishing much. Live Free organizes these gatherings once a month and, at the time I met Mike, they had helped the City of Oakland reduce gun violence by 50% over a five-year period. That's when I realized that the things that happen at the grassroots are often the most important.
I see hope.
Then there's the younger generation. The kids who started March For Our Lives in 2018, at first in response to the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. They're forming a really powerful alliance. I think what's happening nationwide is we are, perhaps unwittingly, growing a generation of people who are going to flip things on its head. In this country, we have a lot that we have to fix. The younger generation – they're living that, suffering from it. But there are so many impressive young people, who are making it their business to seek change. Before long, those are the people who are going to be influencing and winning elections. Any type of societal change takes time. But I have an optimism that the younger generation will be the ones to make real change.
I see hope.