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Kerr speaks out on US shootings, Obama White House visits

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Toronto (Canada) (AFP)

Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr on Sunday urged Americans to vote for gun-control candidates in the wake of a US shooting rampage that left 12 dead and four wounded.

The tragedy spurred action by Kerr, whose university president father was fatally shot in 1984 in Lebanon by a Shia militia known as Islamic Jihad.

Kerr, guiding the defending champions in the NBA Finals for the fifth year in a row, said he hopes a younger US generation that has lived under the fear of mass shootings might force a change in American gun-ownership laws.

"The young generation, the March For Our Lives generation, has really inspired me," Kerr said.

"So I offer my support to them and to all young people, and hope that we can create a change where we don't all have to walk around scared we're going to get shot in our country."

Police say the shootings Friday at a municipal building in Virginia Beach, Virginia, were by public works department engineer DeWayne Craddock.

According to the Washington-based Gun Violence Archive monitoring group, it was the 150th mass shooting, with four or more people shot or killed, in the United States this year.

Kerr, whose Warriors are facing the Toronto Raptors for the NBA crown, wore a T-shirt with the message "Vote For Our Lives" on the front to a pre-game news conference ahead of Sunday's second game of the best-of-seven championship series.

"The shirt has everything to do with the tragedy in Virginia Beach a couple days ago and how devastated so many families are and so many people are," Kerr said.

"The shirt is a reminder that the only way we can get out of this mess is to actually vote, and to vote for people who are going to be willing to create some change in our gun laws in our country."

Kerr's remarks came only minutes before the tipoff of a contest in Toronto which former US President Barack Obama was slated to attend.

Kerr said he was not aware Obama would attend until "a little while" before he spoke to the media and recalled the Warriors' visit to Obama's White House after the team's 2015 NBA crown as a great moment.

"The White house visit, for sure, after the 2015 championship," Kerr said. "That was quite a thrill to visit there and have the whole team there. It was a treat to experience that."

What went unsaid was the team's decision not to visit US President Donald Trump in the White House after winning the NBA titles the past two seasons.

- No visits to Trump -

Warriors star guard Stephen Curry said after Golden State's 2017 title that he wouldn't go to the Trump White House. A White House invitation was later rescinded by Trump after Curry and others had already said they wouldn't attend.

That prompted NBA star LeBron to call Trump a "bum" on Twitter and add, "Going to White House was a great honor until you showed up!"

Last year, Warriors stars Curry and Kevin Durant and James said during the finals they would not attend a White House celebration if their team won.

Kerr called Trump a "blowhard" and "ill-suited" to be president in 2017.

Kerr was an 18-year-old college freshman in January 1984 when his father Malcolm, then president of American University of Beirut, was shot in the back of the head.

As a player, Kerr won five NBA titles, three with the Chicago Bulls and two with San Antonio. He has coached the Warriors to three titles in four seasons and seeks another this year.

Kerr, a Liverpool supporter, did strike a lighter tone in congratulating the club for beating Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League final.

"My novice analysis was it was not a particularly well-played game, but again, the result was the desired one for Liverpool fans," Kerr said.

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