At least 21 people, including 19 children, were shot to death in an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, yesterday. A few hours after the mass killing, another mass killing, simply the latest mass killing, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr sat down for his pregame press conference ahead of Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals, and spoke from the heart.
Kerr’s anger is righteous and deeply felt, and it is admirable that he used his platform to deliver such a message. I was particularly struck by his willingness to be specific. It’s easy enough for a famous person with a microphone to speak passionately but non-specifically about how “our leaders are failing us,” but Kerr spoke directly about the fact that the United States Senate, confronted with constant gun violence and with the knowledge that a huge majority of Americans support stricter regulations on gun sales, can’t even pass a bill that would expand the use of background checks.
“Do you realize that 90 percent of Americans, regardless of political party, want universal background checks?” Kerr said. “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.”
Kerr’s right. We are every day being held hostage by institutions seeking to deny the popular will of the people. The fact that we have never had universal healthcare, are about to lose the federally protected right to abortion, and cannot even dream of a country with anything approaching sane gun policies are all the result of this hostage situation. This disconnect, between the ostensible purpose of our political system and how that system actually operates, leads to the fundamental question of our moment: What is there to be done about this?
Kerr’s answer—making a passionate plea to Mitch McConnell and other Republican senators to pass the most meager of gun control measures—is one option. It’s good that he said it and sad that it’s all he’s asking for. The hope is that he and anyone else who sees things for what they are won’t stop at such a small request.