Through June 5 of this year there have been 246 mass shootings in the United States, according to data compiled by the Gun Violence Archive. The mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, New York, come to mind immediately, but there have been so many. Players and coaches in the NBA have spoken out vehemently about passing laws to end gun violence in the United States. Boston Celtics forward Jaylen Brown, one of the league’s leaders in protesting social injustice in 2020, was asked at NBA Finals media availability if players would consider boycotting an NBA Finals game as they did in the bubble.
“It could. You keep an open mind. You never know. Definitely things need to be addressed. Sometimes people argue and say stopping a basketball game or something, what effect is that actually going to have on society?,” Brown said. “I would say in response it raises awareness. That’s important. It gets people’s attention. It’s a topic that’s being talked about now. Certainly people have pressure on them. Changes need to start to get made. So I definitely think it’s an effective strategy that could work. Do I have the answer if that’s something we will see in the near future? I don’t. But we’ll see.”
Sports are a powerful platform to put a specific message out there. To see a team or two teams boycotting the NBA Finals would clearly be a huge news story and draw a lot of attention.
We saw the power of the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream in helping to get Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock elected in Georgia last year.
So on the one hand it’s an excellent first step as a part of an overall strategy to combat gun violence. The next steps are the difficult ones. A concerted effort from constituents to bombard their Republican senators’ office with phone calls demanding common sense gun laws.
If senators feel pressure from their constituents, their tune will change.
In Wyoming, conservative Republican Sen. Cynthia Lummis said in the aftermath of the Uvalde shooting it was doubtful that measures like background checks to curb gun violence would be welcomed in her very pro-gun state.
“Expanding that would not be acceptable in the state of Wyoming,” Lummis said.
However in the weeks since her office has been flooded with calls from constituents expressing their wish to do something about mass shootings.
“We’ve received so many calls,” Lummis told CNN. “I’ve been a little surprised at the phone calls we’ve been getting and how receptive Wyoming callers seem to be to address guns in some manner. I am of the opinion that it’s more of a mental health issue than a gun issue. But, you know, I’m listening to what people from Wyoming are saying.”
NBA players using their platform to bring more awareness to the serious plague that is gun violence. Then using their influence to set up a coalition of constituents in their communities to relentlessly make their voices heard with their respective senators. When the politicians hear the will of the people, that’s when change can occur.