Count Rick Pitino among basketball coaches supporting gun control.
The Louisville coach was asked Friday about his reaction to Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim’s comments Monday assailing the nation’s gun culture following last week’s school shooting massacre in Newtown, Conn. Pitino agreed with Boeheim, and said he couldn’t understand why people wouldn’t support gun control.
On consecutive days, Boeheim and Winthrop coach Pat Kelsey used postgame news conferences to express sympathy for victims’ families and stress the need for reforms to avoid another tragedy.
Pitino followed by adding that society doesn’t need guns.
He says, “The fact that every single person does not want it would be a mystery. This is not the beginning of American civilization where we need guns like it’s the wild, wild West.”
Pitino said he was unaware of Boeheim’s comments following the Syracuse coach’s milestone 900th career victory Monday night. Told what his colleague said, Pitino said Boeheim was right and similarly expressed empathy for victims’ families.
The Louisville coach seemed saddened over the grieving process the town is going through, believing it might never end. He said he still grieves for brother-in-law Billy Minardi, who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center in New York.
Pitino created an annual game in Minardi’s honor – beating his son, Richard, and Florida International on Wednesday night – but said he thinks about his good friend every day. And he figures the families, friends and neighbors in Newtown will be hurting for a long time as well.
“I don’t know how anybody can ever close their eyes in those families,” Pitino said. “There can be no good that comes out of that except immediate gun control.”
Pitino went more political, believing that members of Congress on both sides have been around too long to effect change. If they were doing what’s right for the country, he said, the nation “would demand” gun control.
He had little to say about the National Rifle Association, which held a news conference Friday in Washington saying that schools should have armed officers for protection.
“I don’t care about those people. They have their own agenda,” he said. “I don’t respect people who have their own agendas.”