Minutes after Syracuse's Jim Boeheim became just the third coach to record 900 wins in his career, he closed out a lengthy press conference in surprising fashion, making an impassioned plea for new gun control measures. His comments came in the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Friday, in which 20 children and seven more adults were killed.
"This will probably offend some people," Boeheim said, unprompted, "but I was watching television all day today because I don't leave. If we in this country as Americans cannot get the people that represent us to do something about firearms, we are a sad, sad society."
Members of the audience began to applaud Boeheim. Since the attack in Newtown, numerous lawmakers — including President Barack Obama — have signaled a willingness to introduce new gun control legislation. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on Sunday pledged to reintroduce legislation banning assault weapons on Congress' first session next year.
"I'm not talking about hunting — rifles. That's fine," Boeheim said. "If one person in this world — the NRA president, anybody — can tell me why we need assault weapons with 30 shots in the thing. ... This is our fault. This is my fault, your fault, all your faults."
Boeheim chided lawmakers and others who have called for more guns and for teachers and school staffers to be armed. It wasn't exactly clear who he was referring to.
"Someone ... had come out and said, 'We need more guns. We don't need less. We need to give teachers guns so they can shoot people.' Yeah, that's really good thinking to do that," Boeheim said.
The Syracuse head coach praised lawmakers like New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has called out Obama and urged him to take action.
"I mean, I go with the Mayor of New York City — if we can't get this thing done, I don't know what kind of country we have," Boeheim said. "Because this is about us. This isn't about the president or the people down there — we need to make them understand, somehow, that this needs to get figured out. We have to move quick, not six months from now."Boeheim left the podium to more applause from the audience, though it didn't have anything to do with his 900th win.