Heartfelt Kerr addresses gun violence at local town hall


NEWARK -- The Warriors have games on the evenings of March 23 and March 25. They do not play on March 24, so coach Steve Kerr plans to devote his energy toward an issue bigger than basketball.

He’ll be occupied with extolling the virtues of common sense in regards to gun violence in America.

Kerr will be among millions of Americans participating in the March For Our Lives, a grass-roots demonstration in the wake of the mass shooting at a Florida high school designed to bring attention to government neglect on an issue that has galvanized individuals on both sides.

Participation in the march was among the revelations Kerr made during a town hall Monday afternoon at Newark Memorial High School. Invited by Rep. Ro Khanna, who also attended and spoke, Kerr spent about 10 minutes in the gym addressing the crowd of about 500 before taking questions from students and parents concerned about gun violence.

“There are many things to debate,” Kerr said, mentioning foreign policy and immigration as examples. “But kids getting murdered...that’s not up for debate.”

Khanna invited two other guest speakers committed to doing their part to reduce gun violence.

Fellow Congressman Mike Thompson of Napa, chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, was on hand. And Matt Deitsch, a graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where 17 students and teachers were killed in a mass shooting on Feb. 14.

Deitsch arrived from Fort Lauderdale early Monday morning, speaking at Stanford University in the late morning and early afternoon before crossing the bay to Newark.

“Every single day is a looming threat, and we’re not scared any more,” said Deitsch, 20, whose younger brother and sister are students at MSD in Parkland. “This isn’t a left issue. This isn’t a right issue. This is about saving innocent lives.”

Thompson related his experience last Friday, when he returned from Washington to the Bay Area and got the news of an active shooter at the Veterans Home of California in Yountville. That’s part of his district and it served as yet another reminder of the dangers of guns.

Three women employees were killed before the shooter, identified as Army veteran Albert Wong, committed suicide.

Thompson’s primary role is to fight for change.

“This is our civil rights moment,” he said. “This is our Vietnam War moment.”

Kerr, an outspoken advocate for gun control, as well as a critic of the policies and rhetoric of President Donald Trump, reiterated the message he delivered on Feb. 14, hours after the shooting in Parkland.

Standing outside the locker room at Moda Center in Portland, he urged the voting public, if weary of mass shootings, to take action against the National Rifle Association via the ballot.

“You can scare the hell out of people by voting,” he said Monday. “You can inspire others to vote. Get registered.”

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