Jimmy Kimmel thought he might finally get to be silly again this week. After his successful crusade to kill the last-ditch Obamacare repeal effort, the late-night host joked last week, “The best news is now I can go back to talking about the Kardashians.”
Then, on Sunday night, a domestic terrorist committed the worst mass shooting in U.S. history in Kimmel’s hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada. Much as he did when he first revealed his baby son’s medical problems this past spring, Kimmel’s eyes were already welling up with tears by the time he opened his mouth to speak on Monday.
“Here we are again in the aftermath of another terrible, inexplicable, shocking and painful tragedy,” Kimmel said at the top of his Jimmy Kimmel Live! monologue, his voice breaking with emotion. “This time in Las Vegas, which happens to be my hometown.”
The host said “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 listening to music,” adding that as a result of his actions, “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,” he continued. “It’s too much to even process.” Kimmel acknowledged that the gunman had no criminal record, passed the required background checks to purchase his semi-automatic rifles. And because of all that, people have been saying there was “nothing” we could have done to stop him.
“But I disagree with that intensely,” Kimmel said. “Because of course there’s something we can do about it. There are a lot of things we could 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 do about that.
Of the Second Amendment, Kimmel said, “Our forefathers wanted us to have AK-47s, I guess, is the argument, I assume.” These are “weapons designed to kill large numbers of people in the shortest possible time,” he said, adding, “I don’t know why our so-called leaders allow this to happen.”
The host also shot down White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ assertion that now is “not the time” to have a political debate about guns. “We have 59 innocent people dead. It wasn’t their time either,” Kimmel said. “So I think now is the time for political debate.”
He went on to go after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan and all the other lawmakers who “won’t do anything about this because the NRA has their balls in a money clip,” for sending their “thoughts and prayers” to the victims. “They should be praying for God to forgive them for letting the gun lobby run this country,” Kimmel said.
After that, Kimmel put up on the screen behind him the face of every senator who, just after last year’s Orlando shooting, voted against a bill that would have closed major loopholes in the background check system. “With all due respect, your thoughts and your prayers are insufficient,” Kimmel said.
“We have a major problem with gun violence in this country and I guess they don’t care,” he continued, mentioning the bill to deregulate silencers that Congress will take up this week. “If I’m wrong on that, fine, then do something about it, because I’m sick of it.”
Kimmel really started to break down when he stressed that he wants Jimmy Kimmel Live! to be a “comedy show” and he “hates” having to talk about such serious issues. “I just want to laugh every night, but it seems to be becoming increasingly difficult lately. It feels like someone has opened a window into hell.”
“Maybe I’m nuts, but I would like to think we can put politics aside and agree that no American citizen needs an M-16, or 10 of them,” Kimmel said, getting applause from his audience. “And maybe that way, we don’t do this again.”
As he did during the latest health care debate, Kimmel urged his viewers to tell their congresspeople to “do something already,” because “love and support” are not enough.
“I’m sorry for getting emotional, I’m not great with this kind of thing,” Kimmel added. As he has shown us again and again this year, that last statement could not be further from the truth.