It’s become a television staple for the hosts of late-night to offer condolences and prayers to the victims of mass shootings and terrorist attacks. With those events occurring more frequently in recent years—particularly in the U.S.—many of those hosts have also begun to call on law officials to do something about it. In the wake of the Las Vegas mass shooting, which became the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, many of them focused their anger on Congress and their lack of action.
Leading the pack was Jimmy Kimmel, whose voice broke several times as he talked about the shooting. He grew up in Las Vegas so it was personal for him, and after expressing his condolences and gratitude toward first responders, he soon turned his attention to the 56 senators who refused to vote for closing loopholes on background checks after the Orlando shooting. Kimmel pointed to how Las Vegas changed fire safety codes after dozens of people died in two separate hotel fires in 1980 to show how changing laws is just common sense.
Other late-night hosts might be better equipped to talk about politics, but as Kimmel has shown in recent months in the healthcare debate, nobody can weave a story like he can. He was glad to have done his part in defeating the latest effort to repeal Obamacare, but said the past few months have gutted him.
“We have a major problem with gun violence in this country, and I guess they don’t care,” Kimmel said. “If I’m wrong on that, fine, do something about it because I’m sick of it. 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 it seems to be becoming increasingly difficult lately. It feels like someone has opened up a window into hell.”
After praising the heroic actions of first responders and concertgoers who showed the best of humanity in the face of the worst of it, Seth Meyers turned his attention to Congress. Meyers doesn’t know what else he can say about mass shootings, but he does want a shred of honesty from members of Congress who won’t do a thing after Las Vegas.
“But 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 gonna continue to be?” he said. “Because when you say—which you always say—‘Now is not the time to talk about it,’ what you really mean is, ‘There is never a time to talk about it.’ And it would be so much more honest if you would just admit that your plan is to never talk about it and never take any action.”
“In the face of tragedies and acts of terror, we need to remember that good still exists in this world,” Fallon said.
Stephen Colbert directly appealed to Donald Trump and offered him a variety of ideas on how he could help prevent another shooting of this magnitude—although so far the Trump administration seems to be avoiding discussion on gun control in the wake of the shooting. “Doing nothing,” Colbert told him, “is cowardice.”
“Now President Trump, you’ve said you wanted to be a transformative president who doesn’t care about the way things have always been done in Washington, D.C. This is your chance to prove it, and I mean this sincerely,” Colbert said. “You do not owe the Republicans anything. You know the Republicans tried to stop you from being president? Well, screw them. 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.”
Conan O’Brien, who’s been on late-night TV since 1993, pointed out that when he first started it was extremely rare for a comedy host like himself to have to address a mass shooting or a terrorist attack on television. But now it’s become so commonplace that he has a file for all of the remarks he’s said after mass shootings, and he questioned the “ritual” we have after mass shootings, as well as why we still allow the sale of semi-automatic weapons.
“How could there be a file of mass shooting remarks for a late-night host?” O’Brien asked. “When did that become normal? 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. I never have been. But I will repeat what I said after Orlando not long ago: I don’t think it should be so easy for one demented person to kill so many people so quickly.”
James Corden praised the resilience of the first responders and concertgoers, which he’s seen countless times after senseless attacks and shootings, and remarked that the record for the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history changed twice in the 2.5 years he’s lived in the U.S. He wondered aloud at how the U.S. couldn’t find a way to prevent gun violence of this magnitude when it wasn’t anywhere near as big of an issue in every other developed country in the world.
“Now I come from a place where we don’t have shootings at this frequency so it’s hard for me to fathom,” Corden said. “But it should be hard for everybody to fathom. Gun violence should not be a staple of American life.”
And Trevor Noah also noted at how frequently mass shootings have happened since he’s moved to New York, and just “how accustomed” everyone’s become to these mass shootings.
“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 gonna come out saying ‘whatever you do, when speaking about the shootings, don’t talk about guns,’” Noah said.