Late-Night Hosts Speak Out About Gun Violence After Las Vegas Tragedy
Jimmy Kimmel choked up in an emotional response to the deadly attack, while Seth Meyers had a pointed message for Congress.
Late-night hosts dedicated a portion of their Monday night shows to speaking out about gun violence in the wake of the tragic events that unfolded in Las Vegas on Sunday night.
The deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history left at least 59 people dead and 527 more injured after a gunman opened fire on an outdoor country music festival from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip.
Nevada native Jimmy Kimmel opened Monday night's Live! with an emotional response to the shooting, choking up as he addressed the news at the start of the show.
"Here we are again in the aftermath of another terrible, inexplicable, shocking and painful tragedy — this time in Las Vegas, which happens to be my hometown," he said, holding back tears. "And, of course, we pray for the victims — and for their families and friends, and we wonder why, even though there's probably no way to ever know why a human being would do something like this to other human beings who were at a concert having fun, listening to music."
Kimmel continued, "And, as a result of that this morning, we have children without parents and fathers without sons, mothers without daughters.... It’s the kind of thing that makes you want to throw up. Or give up. It’s too much to even process."
Singling out "our so-called leaders" and questioning why they continue to allow these deadly acts of violence to happen, he asked, "Or maybe a better question — why do we continue to let them allow it to happen?"
The host noted that his stance wasn't about gun control but about "common sense."
"Common sense says no good will ever come from allowing a person to have weapons that can take down 527 Americans at a concert," he said. "Common sense says you don’t let those who suffer from mental illness buy guns."
Kimmel also addressed White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders' comments earlier that day, when she said it was "not the time" for political debate: "Well, thank you, Sarah, but we have 58 innocent people dead — and it wasn't their time either — so now is the time for political debate."
Kimmel urged viewers to take action and "tell your congresspeople to do something. It's not enough to send your love and prayers."
Late Night host Seth Meyers began his show by sending his condolences to the families of the victims and commending the first responders and heroic residents who "risked their lives to save strangers."
"It always seems like the worst displays of humanity in this country are immediately followed by the best, and then, sadly, that is followed by no action at all. And then it repeats itself," Meyers said, before sending a pointed message to Congress.
"I would just like to say — are there no steps we can take as a nation to prevent gun violence? Or is this just how it is, and how it's going to continue to be?"
He questioned Congress' reasoning for repeatedly insisting "now is not the time" to talk about gun violence, adding, "What you really mean is, there is never a time to talk about it."
Meyers ended his message with a plea for transparency: "If you're not willing to do anything, just be honest and tell us. ... If it's going to be thoughts and prayers from here on out, the least you can do is be honest about that."
Trevor Noah similarly tackled the taboo subject of gun control in America on The Daily Show.
"What's particularly heartbreaking is other than the lives lost, I feel like people are becoming more accustomed to this type of news," he said. "I almost know how it's going to play out. We're shocked, we're sad, thoughts and prayers — and then almost on cue, people are going to come out saying, 'Whatever you do, when speaking about the shootings, don't talk about guns.' "
Noah noted that the country has run through every possible excuse to avoid talking about guns.
"I've never been to a country where people are as afraid to speak about guns. Every time there's a shooting you go to look at something else. Is it Muslims? Is it there religion? Is that what it is? Is it the blacks? Is it mentally ill people? Is it white nationalists? Every time it's a different question. Now, after this incident in Las Vegas, we're asking a new question. Is it hotels?" he said.
Noah concluded his segment with an apology to the victims and their loved ones.
"To the people of Las Vegas, I can't give you thoughts and prayers. I can only say that I'm sorry," Noah said. "I'm sorry we live in a world where people will put a gun before your lives."
Conan O'Brien spoke about the "terrible and numbing" tragedy, telling his audience, "When I began in 1993, occasions like this were extremely rare. For me, or any TV comedy host, to come out and need to address a mass shooting spree was practically unheard of. ... Things have changed."
Noting the numerous mass shootings that have occurred over the past decade, he asked, "When did this become a ritual, and what does it say about us that it has?"
"I'm not the most political of our comics, but I will repeat what I said not long ago, after Orlando — I don't think it should be so easy for one demented person to kill so many people so quickly," O'Brien added, before concluding, "Something needs to change."
James Corden also addressed the mass shooting during his opening monologue, somberly urging the need for gun control in the country.
“Last night was the biggest mass shooting in the United States history. That is a record that has been set twice in just the two and a half years that I’ve been living in America,” Corden said to the camera. “Here’s another statistic, 11,660 people have died from gun violence in the last 275 days in this country. Now I come from a place where we don’t have shootings at this frequency so it’s hard for me to fathom. But it should be hard for everyone to fathom, “ Corden explained.
Further adding, “Gun violence should not be a staple of American life. Some say it’s too early to talk about gun control. For those victims last night, it’s far too late.”
Corden then responded to comments that shootings to this caliber cannot be prevented.
“Forgive me, because I’m just a foreigner here and some of you feel I have no place to say this but how does every developed country do a better job of preventing these attacks? We can’t be surprised that gun crime will always occur where there is such wide availability of guns,” Corden said.
Corden then referred to a quote from Robert Kennedy that states, “Tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom, not a guide by which to live.” Now is the time for gaining that wisdom.”
After expressing his sorrow for the victims and families, Stephen Colbert took jabs at President Trump during his opening remarks Monday night, urging Trump to be the president to make a difference.
“Today, the president called this an ‘act of pure evil.’ And I think he’s right,” Colbert began. “So what, then are we willing to do to combat ‘pure evil?’ The answer can’t be nothing.”
Colbert expressed frustration but hope that with just a little effort, members of Congress can be heroic.
“The bar is so low right now that Congress can be heroes by doing literally anything. Universal background checks or come up with a better answer,” Colbert urged. “Enforce Obama’s executive order that denied the mentally ill gun purchases or a better answer, reinstate the semi-automatic weapons ban. Anything but nothing. Doing nothing is cowardice. Doing something will take courage.”
Further pressing Congress for action, Colbert referred to the Las Vegas victims, loved ones and city, still reeling from the aftermath of the mass shooting, but doing so with courage.
“It took courage for the people at that concert last night to help each other as bullets flew and courage for the first responders to rush and do their jobs," Colbert said. "It took courage for people in Las Vegas to simply to about their day today.
“President Trump, you’ve said you want to be a transformative president who doesn’t care about the way things have always been done in Washington. This is your chance to prove it. You don’t owe the Republicans anything. You know the Republicans tried to stop you from being president. Screw 'em,” Colbert said.
“You want to make America great again? Do something the last two Presidents haven’t been able to do. Pass any kind of common sense gun control legislation that the vast majority of Americans want. Think about what you need to do and pray for the courage to do it.”