Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr has called for stronger gun control measures in the United States following this week’s mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado.
Speaking ahead of the Warriors’ game against the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday, Kerr started his media availability with the names of the victims from the mass shootings in Boulder and Atlanta on display.
Ten people, including a store manager and a police officer, were killed after a gunman opened fire at a Colorado supermarket on Monday, while last week’s shooting at three Atlanta-area spas left eight people dead.
“The reason to do it is to remind people these are human beings,” Kerr said of displaying the victims’ names.
“It’s important to humanize the victims, and not just count them. Too often, you pick up a story and you just read there were eight victims or there were 10 victims, or whatever the number is.
“When you see faces, when you see names, it personalizes it, and you put it together, and you think about how many people are suffering – how many family members and friends and not to mention, of course, how many lives were cut short and how many dreams were shattered.”
When Kerr was in college, his father, Malcolm Kerr, who was president of American University of Beirut, was assassinated by gunmen.
“That’s why this issue is very near and dear to my heart because 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,” Kerr said.
In the wake of the shooting in Colorado, President Joe Biden made a vocal push for gun reforms, including calls for a universal background checks measure and an assault weapons ban. On March 11, the Democratic-led House of Representatives passed two bills that would expand background checks on all commercial gun sales.
The shooter in Atlanta purchased his firearm the day he is alleged to have carried out the attacks, according to police, while the Boulder shooting took place 10 days after a county judge, Andrew Hartman, halted the implementation of a ban on assault-style weapons and high capacity magazines.
The bans had been passed by Boulder’s local government after the 2018 shooting in Parkland, Florida. He said only state or federal law could ban such weapons.
Ahead of Tuesday’s game, Kerr expressed his bafflement towards current gun laws in the US.
“It’s just mindboggling to me that we can just continue to cater to the very small minority in this country,” he said.
“Again, 90 percent of Americans, regardless of political affiliation, support background checks. We go through drivers’ school and drivers’ safety. And we have to apply for a license to drive a car. Nothing like that with a gun? … A lot of us are just angry.”
Kerr, whose Golden State Warriors lost 98-108 to the 76ers, wasn’t the only NBA coach to speak out against gun violence.
Denver Nuggets’ Mike Malone opened his media session by naming the victims of the Boulder shooting, breaking down into tears after doing so.
“I think we’re all tired of it. That’s an understatement,” said Malone, who was visibly distraught as he spoke through tears.
“For me, you get so caught up in the job and basketball … We get judged on wins and losses, but if you take a step back and you put yourself in one of those families, what do you feel?”
Malone also paid tribute to Eric Talley, the police officer and father of seven who was killed in the Boulder shooting.
“I think about Eric Talley and his seven kids,” Malone said.
“That’s what I think about. I’m just heartbroken for them and everybody else. Hopefully we as a country, we as a state can find a way to be better. I apologize for my emotions.”
CNN’s Jill Martin contributed to this report.