"Well, here we are again."
Last night, late-night host Jimmy Kimmel found himself bearing the weight of tragedy, where his only rational response was to forego laughs and speak hard truths. His audience had seen him there before. Only last week, the comedian took his opening moment to defend health-care rights for his fellow Americans (including his son, who was bor with congenital heart disease). Now he was back, shocked, woeful, and stirred up by the violence in Las Vegas. Just a year after a gunman stormed an Orlando nightclub, the deadliest mass shooting in American history, here we were again, 59 dead, hundreds injured, after an attack at a concert in the city.
Las Vegas was Kimmel's hometown. He had to say something.
"It’s the kind of thing that makes you want to throw up or give up, it’s too much to even process."
Kimmel spoke for 10 straight minutes, reflecting on the act of violence, and pulling even further back to reflect on Washington's response -- or lack thereof.
"I’ve been reading comments from people who say, 'This is terrible, but there’s nothing we can do about it," he said. "But I disagree with that intensely. Because of course there’s something we can do about it, there’s a lot of things we can do about it. But we don’t, which is interesting. Because when someone with a beard attacks us, we tap phones, we invoke travel bans, we build walls, we take every possible precaution to make sure it doesn’t happen again. But when an American buys a gun and kills other Americans, then there’s nothing we can about that."
At a time of polarizing political perspectives and misinformation campaigns, Kimmel threw caution to the wind to speak openly about his feelings on gun control and the politicians who are and aren't doing anything. At the risk of alienating a portion of his audience, the comedian unpacked the situation, addressing press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders' claims from earlier in the day that this wasn't "a time for a political debate."
"I don’t know, we have 59 innocent people dead, it wasn’t their time either -- so I think now is the time for political debate," Kimmel said. After ripping into the NRA, calling out politicians who sit on the gun control issue, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan ("They should be praying for God to forgive them for letting the gun lobby run this country, because it’s so crazy"), and addressing the upcoming Senate vote on silencer use, Kimmel addressed the inevitable backlash he'd receive for the monologue.
"I want this to be a comedy show. I hate talking about stuff like this. I just want to laugh about things every night, but that — it seems to becoming increasingly difficult lately. It feels like someone has opened a window into hell. And what I’m talking about tonight isn’t about gun control, it’s 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. Common sense says you don’t let those who suffer from mental illness buy guns."