Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr refused to "answer any basketball questions" two hours before Game 4 of the NBA’s Western Conference Finals. Instead, he spoke about gun violence in the wake of a deadly mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, earlier that day.
"Any basketball questions don't matter," he said in a now-viral clip. "In the last 10 days, we've had elderly Black people killed in a supermarket in Buffalo. We've had Asian churchgoers killed in Southern California, and now we have children murdered at school. When are we going to do something?"
Kerr said Americans are being "held hostage" by 50 senators who have refused to vote on HR 8, a bill that would require background checks for the private transfers of firearms that the House passed in March 2021.
"There's a reason they won't vote on it to hold onto 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 — are you going to put your own desire for power ahead of the lives of our children and our elderly and our churchgoers?" he continued. "You realize that 90% of Americans, regardless of political party, want background checks? ... It's pathetic. I've had enough."
Kerr's father, Malcolm H. Kerr, was assassinated by gunmen in 1984. His passion for defending victims of gun violence — as well as buckling down in the face of tragedy — has been well documented.
The NBA coach's speech, which has now been viewed more than 20 million times, has been praised as "strong," "beautiful," and "powerful."
"This took guts," one viewer wrote. "This is exactly how I feel this morning. This is exactly how most of us feel," another said.
The clip has been shared by fellow coaches as well as celebrities like Taylor Swift, Carl Weathers, and Flea.
Taylor Swift said she was "filled with rage and grief" and that Kerr's words "ring so true and cut so deep."
Footage of a speech from Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy also went viral. The Democrat, who has long pushed for stronger gun control measures, said that "there were more mass shootings than days in the year."
"Our kids are living in fear every single time they set foot in a classroom because they think they are going to be next. ... As the slaughter increases, as our kids run for their lives, we do nothing," he said. "What are we doing? Why are you here if not to solve a problem as existential as this?
As Murphy spoke to other lawmakers on the Senate floor, social media users have been working to hold politicians accountable online.
In response to President Joe Biden's speech, in which he questioned why we "are willing to live with this carnage" and when we are "going to stand up to the gun lobby," the words "you're the president" trended on Twitter.
"The answer is right there: 'we.' Sir, you’re the President," one user said. "For the love of God, do something about it. You're the president, not a pundit," another wrote.
Some said the vitriol toward Biden was misdirected, as the power to create laws lies in the hands of Congress.
"You're the president folks need to retake civics class," one user wrote.
In response to tweets from elected officials about the tragedy, users have been calling them out for their inaction on gun control and their monetary gain from gun lobbies.
Though countless people have expressed feelings of hopelessness in the wake of another senseless tragedy, many have mobilized to hold power to account. The prevailing emotion online, though, is fury.