CHICAGO -- Pitcher Liam Hendriks of the Chicago White Sox made an impassioned plea for American leaders to work harder to solve gun violence after a mass shooting Monday at a suburban parade.
The 33-year-old Australian right-hander, Major League Baseball's American League 2020 and 2021 Reliever of the Year, spoke after the White Sox called off post-game fireworks for the Independence Day holiday following a gunman's shooting six people dead and injuring more than 20 others at a July 4 parade in nearby Highland Park.
"I think the access to the weaponry that is being used in these things -— something needs to change," said Hendriks. "Something needs to be done. Something needs to happen because it's way too many people losing their lives."
The White Sox, after consulting with MLB about a possible postponement of the contest, held a moment of silence before playing their home game Monday against Minnesota.
"Our hearts are with the Highland Park community," the club said in a statement. "The entire Chicago White Sox organization expresses our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of the innocent victims of today's horrific shooting and all of those who have been affected by this tragedy."
Hendriks said gun violence harms not only shooting victims but families, communities and society, saying change is required to settle the political differences between sides in the US gun debate.
"It's not only about the people that are losing their lives," he said. "It's the families of them. It's the tragedy that they go through, an entire community, when people are concerned about leaving the house, concerned about doing the day-to-day things of going to work.
"We really need to reflect on what's going on. I don't think enough is being done. There are two sides. The two sides need to meet somewhere in the middle and figure this out because there are too many people dying and there's no excuse to be on this side or that side.
Hendriks noted that protection is not enough reason to be allowed to have a handgun in his homeland, where major reforms came after a 1996 mass shooting.
"It's baffling to me coming over," Hendriks said. "I can walk into a store as a non-American and buy a handgun in certain states. And that baffles me.
"I had to take a driving test when I was over here. I won't have to take a test if I want to get a gun. That's stupid. Whoever thought that was a great idea was an idiot."
© Agence France-Presse