(The Hill) — In an impassioned speech just after a school shooting in Texas left at least 19 children and two teachers dead on Tuesday, Golden State Warriors’ head coach Steve Kerr criticized the U.S. Senate for failing to vote on background check legislation.
“There’s 50 senators, right now, who refuse to vote on H.R. 8, which is a background check rule that the House passed,” Kerr said ahead of his team’s game versus the Dallas Mavericks in remarks that went viral. “There’s a reason they won’t vote on it: to hold on to power.”
“So I ask you, Mitch McConnell, I ask all of you senators who refuse to do anything about the violence and school shootings and 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?”
“When are we gonna do something?” Kerr added. “I’m so tired of getting up here and offering condolences to the devastated families that are out there, I’m tired of the moments of silence. Enough!”
Kerr, a longtime gun safety advocate whose father was assassinated in a shooting outside his office in Beirut in 1984, referenced a bill known as the Bipartisan Background Checks Act that would expand federal background checks required for gun purchases.
Currently, federal law does not require that unlicensed gun sellers operating online or at gun shows conduct background checks prior to the purchase of arms.
H.R. 8, which passed the House in March 2021, would close loopholes in gun purchases, requiring a background check for all gun sales.
Twenty-two percent of Americans reported that they purchased their most recent gun without any background check, according to Everytown for Gun Safety.
Background checks have effectively blocked 4 million sales “to people prohibited by law from having guns,” the group said.
Still, H.R. 8 and another proposal to strengthen background checks have stalled for over a year in the Senate, where 10 Republican votes are required to overcome a filibuster.
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has begun the process of getting those bills on the upper chamber’s calendar.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), however, has said H.R. 8 is too far-reaching. The centrist Democrat has instead pushed to vote on a narrower plan that exempts transfers and sales between family and friends, a proposal he negotiated with input from the National Rifle Association (NRA) in 2013.
“It’s astonishingly frustrating,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said of the process. “These are things that most gun owners want and yet this rabid god-damned NRA won’t let the Republicans move.”