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James Corden and Stephen Colbert, like many of the network late night hosts, had already taped their shows Tuesday when news broke of the Texas elementary school shooting that has so far left 19 kids dead.
But both took a few minutes on each program to address the tragedy.
Standing in front of a dimly lit audience, Corden delivered an emotional speech expressing his sadness for those affected by the “unfathomable” tragedy as he referenced his own kids.
“As a father I can’t imagine the horror of that phone call,” the Late Late Show host said. “When I drop my kids off at school this morning and kiss them goodbye, it doesn’t cross your mind that that could ever be the last goodbye. The thought of that phone call — that your child is the victim in a mass shooting — is beyond comprehension as a human being. I’m so deeply sad for the families of these children, the trauma of the survivors and for the future that these kids will never see.”
The U.K. native, who recently announced that he would be ending his nightly show in 2023 after eight years, also expressed frustration about the frequency of such events in the United States.
“I don’t know what has to happen to change things here,” he said. “I am constantly shocked by the number of people who must think this is an OK byproduct to never make meaningful changes to gun laws. It doesn’t make sense to me. It doesn’t reflect the country that I think America is, the America I’ve always admired. You have a problem, you solve it. You’re on the forefront of medicine, of technology, of innovation. When there’s a world war, you are the ones we turn to. Yet on this issue, America is one of the most backward places in the world.”
He then said that while there had been no school shootings in the U.K., Japan and Australia this year, there had been multiple mass shootings in the U.S. so far in 2022.
And he expressed pessimism about the prospect of change as he predicted he’d soon be speaking on another shooting, just as he did last week with the tragedy in Buffalo.
“Nothing will change. Gun money will continue to get in the way of morality,” he said. “Words of thoughts and prayers will come from our leaders, but I fear change never will. I hold out hope that this country will eventually wake up and change this senseless gun culture. My heart simply goes out to every single person in Texas tonight.”
Earlier on The Late Show, Colbert also got emotional, appearing to tear up as he paused for a few seconds when he spoke about the “unspeakable” shooting.
“While we can add our prayers for the dead,” Colbert said before pausing, “there is nothing that can ever be said that can approach the immeasurable grief of those families.”
Still, he urged his viewers to take action.
“Let’s pray this time our leaders show a modicum of courage in trying to prevent this from ever happening again,” he said. “But prayers won’t end this, voting might. So when you vote, ask yourself this question: Who running for office has publicly stated that they are willing to do anything and everything in their power to protect your children from the criminally insane number of guns in America?”
Colbert also spoke to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern about the gun control law her country passed in the wake of the 2019 Christchurch shooting.
Meanwhile, on NBC, The Tonight Show aired a card before Tuesday night’s episode reading, “Tonight’s show was taped prior to today’s tragic news in Texas.”
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