Steve Kerr has spent the last week observing the protests and emotional efforts of the Stoneman Douglas shooting victims trying to convince their government to address the long overdue gun-control issue. Kerr has actively supported gun reform in the wake of previous mass shootings and on Thursday offered his support to the teenage victims-turned-activists.
“I think it’s phenomenal,” Kerr said. “I think what those kids are doing is heroic. It’s heartfelt. And I think it’s the beginning of some change—I really believe that. I’m amazed any time I see them on TV or online. It’s heartbreaking but inspiring all at once.
“I feel very encouraged. We’ve got a generation that’s grown up with these school shootings and mass shootings and they’re fed up. Historically, it’s the young generation that has to initiate change. You think about the Vietnam War. All the old white guys who kept sending the troops off to fight this ridiculous war. And all the young people who protested had to make change, create change. And so it’s the young people in the county now who are going to create the change we need in terms of how we handle gun violence, and how we do our best to curb it. It’s amazing to watch them.”
Kerr is especially sensitive to the gun violence debate since his father, Malcolm, was assassinated in Beirut 34 years ago. He can also sympathize with the survivors whose lives have been altered forever by the trauma they endured. Kerr was an 18-year-old University of Arizona freshman at the time of his father’s death and he has remained a vocal advocate of gun control.
Following the Oct. 1 mass shooting in Las Vegas that resulted in the deaths of 59 and injuries to hundreds more, Kerr declared that the country should offer more than thoughts and prayers. A month later, the murder of 26 churchgoers in Sutherland Springs, Texas resulted in Kerr describing gun violence as a “public health crisis.”
Kerr’s comments on Thursday echoed those of 2-time MVP Steve Nash. In a first person piece for The Players Tribune, Nash addressed the rampant gun violence gripping America. As a Canadian citizen, Nash brings a different perspective to the debate than Kerr as Canada is nearly devoid of the type of gun violence that plagues America.
Many Americans want the right to bear arms to protect themselves or their families. I can understand this way of thinking, even if it’s not familiar to me. But the truth is that for every one time a gun is used in the home out of self-defense, there are four accidents involving guns in the home; eleven suicide attempts; and seven assaults or murders. You may say this doesn’t apply to you — that your weapon is safe and secure — but sadly this is not the case for many Americans. Homes with guns have 22 negative outcomes for each time a gun is actually used — not necessarily with success — in self defense.
First, we need to enforce and expand background checks for people trying to purchase a gun. We also need to require them to supply proof of proper storage, which they do in other countries with great success.
Second, we need to more strictly regulate semiautomatic weapons, like the AR-15, which are so often used in mass shootings. These weapons make it easy for someone to kill many, many people in a matter of seconds. And seriously — what’s the counterargument here? I’m just not sure what weapons like the AR-15 offer everyday society. But we do know the harm they cause: Without these weapons, deranged individuals such as the killer in Las Vegas wouldn’t have be able to murder and injure so many victims in such a short amount of time. Lives would have been saved. Those people would be here with us now, going to work or school, or packing their kids a lunch.
In summation, Nash also expressed support for the gun reform activism demonstrated by Stoneman Douglas survivors and students around the country.
High school students decided that they’d had enough. The students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, where the Parkland shooting happened, decided that there’s been enough silence, enough violence and enough death. They decided that the future belongs to them. And while they may not know exactly how their future will turn out … they’ve experienced enough to know how they don’t want it to turn out.
We need to support them now.
Inevitably, Nash’s opinion will be discarded by many because he hails from our neighbor to the north, but it’s worth listening to his opinion. In contrast to the United States, Canadians don’t stock up on semi/automatic assault rifles. As a consequence, they remain immune to rampant gun violence and still haven’t been subjected to the theoretical tyranny many Second Amendment supporters fear.
There are 89 firearms per 100 residents in the United States, which is the most in the world by a significant margin. That’s nearly twice as many as the second and third nations, Yemen and Serbia, who have engaged in violent civil wars within the last 20 years.
Canada ranks 13th, with 31 firearms per 100 residents, but averages 1 gun death for every 215,000 people in Canada, compared to 1 death for every 28,000 people in the United States. Nash doesn’t advocate for a complete repeal of the Second Amendment and his argument for gun reform holds weight when you consider Canada’s paucity of gun violence.
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