Heat Check

LeBron James wonders why a 19-year-old can’t buy beer, but can purchase an AR-15

LeBron James is introduced for the upcoming 2018 NBA All-Star game during practice at the Verizon Up Arena at LACC on Feb. 17, 2018, in Los Angeles.
LeBron James is introduced for the upcoming 2018 NBA All-Star game during practice at the Verizon Up Arena at LACC on Feb. 17, 2018, in Los Angeles. Getty Images

LeBron James made South Florida home for four seasons as a member of the Miami Heat.

He got to know the neighborhoods and the people. So, seeing the community he used to live in suffer through one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history this week impacted him.

“It’s a tragedy,” James, 33, said as he spoke at All-Star media day at the Los Angeles Convention Center about the 17 lives lost at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on Wednesday when 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz opened fire at the school he was expelled from. “We’ve seen these schools and these tragedies happen in America and there’s been no change to gun control. I don’t have the answer to this. But we have to do something about it.”

Flanked by his sons LeBron Jr. and Bryce during a 22-minute interview session with reporters, James, a 14-time All-Star and four-time league MVP who won two championships with the Heat, echoed the sentiments of Miami’s players earlier this week, who were deeply saddened to hear what happened at the school.

“We’re all sending our kids to school, right?” James said in a response to a question about the school shooting from The Miami Herald. “We drop them off at 8 o’clock. At 3:15 they’re going to be ready to get picked up. Either we’re picking them or someone in our family is picking them up or they have to take a bus or there’s aftercare and they stay until 5. But we all feel like our kids are going to return, right?

“We have a kid who wasn’t legally able to buy a beer at a bar, but he can go buy an AR-15? It doesn’t make sense. I’m not saying it should be legal for him to go buy beer. But how is it possible that we can have minors go buy a gun? I don’t have the answer to it. But to the families in Parkland, down in Broward County, it’s sad and I’m sorry and it’s just a tragedy. I hope we don’t continue to see this because it’s too many in the last 10 years with guns.”

Wayne Ellington, a participant in Saturday night’s three-point contest who became a father last year and lost his own father to gun violence a few years ago, said Saturday something needs to change with how easy it is for troubled individuals to get their hands on weapons.

“I was at a loss for words,” Ellington said of the shooting in Parkland. “I couldn’t understand what’s going on, why what’s going on in the world. We need to change. These young people doing unexplainable things, hurting each other and hurting innocent people, it’s so unfortunate and sad. It’s something I don’t know how we can change but it’s something we need to come together and figure out.​”

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