Jimmy Kimmel, Openly Weeping, Begs America to Address Mass Shootings

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After successfully leading the fight against the Graham-Cassidy bill, Jimmy Kimmel promised to return to making jokes about the Kardashians while merrily wasting his newfound moral authority on a crusade against pumpkin spice pizza. In other words, like most of the country, he hoped things would return to normal.

They didn’t. They aren’t. They won’t. So once again, Kimmel ditched the jokes to speak plainly and openly about what’s happening to the country. But while his speeches about health care had a specific and achievable goal, when it comes to mass shootings in America, as ‘s Jamelle Bouie observed today, there’s nothing to hope for.

So when the late night host took the stage Monday to talk about what happened in Las Vegas this weekend, he was despairing in a way that is not often seen on television, particularly not in comedy. In fact, recent events seem to be souring the genre for him entirely:

You know, I want this to be a comedy show, I hate talking about stuff like this. I just want to, you know, laugh about things every night. But that-it seems to be becoming increasingly difficult lately. It feels like someone has opened a window into hell.

Breaking down in tears on multiple occasions, Kimmel delivered a vision of the future that was no less depressing for being correct:

And you know what’ll happen? We’ll pray for Las Vegas, some of us will get motivated, some of us won’t get motivated, bills will be written, they’ll be watered down, they’ll fail, the NRA will smother it all with money, and over time, we’ll get distracted, we’ll move on to the next thing. And then it will happen again. And again.

But even if he didn’t have high hopes for a path forward, Kimmel was also specific about exactly who was blocking the way, putting up pictures of the Senators-including his old pal Bill Cassidy- who voted against closing gun purchase loopholes a week after the shooting at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub because, Kimmel explained, “the NRA has their balls in a money clip.” As for the ritualistic offers of thoughts and prayers from politicians who have no intention of doing anything else at all, he had less than no patience. “They should be praying,” he said. “They should be praying for God to forgive them for letting the gun lobby run this country.”

The whole monologue is closer to Jeremiah than Johnny Carson, but Kimmel delivers it perfectly, in that he barely delivers it at all. (Yes: “the nation is transfixed as Jimmy Kimmel transforms into an Old Testament prophet before its very eyes” is one of the things that happens in 2017, apparently.) But Kimmel’s sincere and raw approach is the only way to do it, really: This is not the kind of message anyone should want (or need) to sell to an audience with guile or pretense. It’s just the truth, and we can all feel it. Things aren’t right.

Here is Kimmel’s complete statement:

Well, hello, everyone! 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 home town, Cleto’s home town, Cleto Senior’s home town. As you know, at least 59 people are dead, hundreds of people are wounded in what they say was the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history, coming about a year and a half after the previous deadliest mass shooting in modern American history in Orlando, where 49 people lost their lives.

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 and listening to music. Jason Aldean was on stage, Luke Combs who is here with us tonight, he played the show too, and obviously, no one could have ever expected that something that terrible would happen. But it did. A very sick person smuggled 17 guns into his hotel room and smashed out the windows, started firing indiscriminately from the 32nd floor into a crowd of 22,000 people across the street.

And as a result of that, this morning we have children without parents and fathers without sons, mothers without daughters. We lost two police officers. We lost a nurse from Tennessee. A special ed. teacher from a local school here in Manhattan Beach. It’s the kind of thing that it makes you want to throw up or give up. It’s too much to even process. All of these devastated families who now have to live with this pain forever because one person with a violent and insane voice in his head managed to stockpile a collection of high powered rifles and used them to shoot people.

The guy was an accountant, he had no criminal record, his brother, who lives in Florida seems totally shocked, genuinely dumbfounded, he says he saw no sign of any of this. The owner of the store that sold the killer some of the rifles said he passed the government-mandated background check while he was in the store. He wasn’t on any watchlist. He doesn’t seem to have been a religious or political extremist. Came out of nowhere. And because of that, because there weren’t any of the usual signs, you know, I’ve been reading comments from people who say this is terrible, but there’s nothing we can do about it.

But I disagree with that intensely, because of course there’s something we can do about it. There are 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 do about that. And, uh, Second Amendment, I guess, our forefathers wanted us to have AK-47s is the argument, I assume.

Orlando, Newtown, Aurora, San Bernardino, every one of these shootings the murderer used automatic or semiautomatic rifles, which are not weapons used for self-defense. They’re weapons designed to kill large numbers of people in the shortest amount of time. And this guy reportedly had ten of them in his room, apparently legally, at least some of them were there legally. Why is that allowed? I don’t know why our so-called leaders continue to allow this to happen. Or maybe a better question: Why do we continue to let them allow it to happen? Five people got shot in Lawrence, Kansas last night. Three of them died, and it didn’t even make a blip, because this is just a regular part of our lives now.

And you know what’ll happen? We’ll pray for Las Vegas, some of us will get motivated, some of us won’t get motivated, bills will be written, they’ll be watered down, they’ll fail, the NRA will smother it all with money, and over time, we’ll get distracted, we’ll move on to the next thing. And then it will happen again. And again.

Last night, the White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said this is not the time-or actually, it was today, this morning-she said it was not the time for political debate. And 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.

President Trump is visiting Las Vegas on Wednesday. He spoke this morning, he said he’s praying for those who lost their lives. You know, in February, he also signed a bill that made it easier for people with severe mental illness to buy guns legally. The Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, a number of other lawmakers who won’t do anything about this because the NRA has their balls in a money clip, also sent their thoughts and their prayers today. Which is good, they should be praying. They should be praying for God to forgive them for letting the gun lobby run this country.

Because it is-it’s so crazy, there are loopholes in the law that let people avoid background checks if they buy a gun privately from another party, if they buy a gun online or at a gun show. So I want to show you something. These are the faces of the senators who, days after the shooting in Orlando, voted against a bill that would have closed those loopholes. These are the 56 senators who didn’t want to do anything about that.

Ninety percent of Democrats-I’m not talking about politicians here, I’m talking about people-and 77% of Republicans support background checks at gun shows. Eighty-nine percent of Republicans and Democrats are in favor of restricting gun ownership for the mentally ill. But not this gang! They voted against both of those things. So with all due respect, your thoughts and your prayers are insufficient.

And by the way, the House of Representatives will be voting on a piece of legislation this week: It’s a bill to legalize the sale of silencers for guns. This is what they’re working on. We have a major problem with gun violence in this country, and I guess they don’t care. And if I’m wrong on that, fine, do something about it, ’cause I’m sick of it.

You know, I want this to be a comedy show, I hate talking about stuff like this. I just want to, you know, laugh about things every night. But that-it seems to be 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. You know, in June of last year, the NRA fought to make sure people on the no-fly list can buy guns. They aren’t allowed to get on a plane. They’re allowed to own a very dangerous gun. Who thinks that makes sense? Them, I guess, the people who voted with the NRA.

Maybe I’m nuts, but I would like to think we can put politics aside and agree that no American citizen needs an M16, or ten of them. And maybe that way we don’t do this again. I mean that seems very reasonable to me.

You know, in 1980, we had a big fire at the MGM Hotel in Las Vegas. It was horrible, right? I mean, 85 people died, you could see the fire. I mean, I was, I was 13 years old, I’ll never forget, a man jumped out the window. It was a terrible thing to see. And then a few months later there was another fire at the Hilton and five people died. So you know what they did? They changed the laws. They made major changes to the fire safety codes, and it hasn’t happened again. Why would we approach this differently? It’s a public safety issue, and something needs to be done already. So tell your congresspeople to do something.

I mean, it’s not enough to send your love and prayers-and we do, we send our love and support and whatever else is needed to Las Vegas, and to the families from all over the country and Canada who had the worst night of their lives last night.

You know, Vegas is a funny town, it’s easy to forget people live there. But they do, I mean, lots of good people. These people showed up in droves today to donate blood, because it’s the only thing they could do. And so they did it. But there is more that we could do. And we need to do it.

And thank God for the police in Las Vegas who risked their lives trying to locate the man with the gun. Thank God for the doctors and nurses and firefighters and paramedics who rose to the occasion, as they always seem to do when we need them to. And for the concertgoers themselves, who helped each other, who threw their bodies on top of each other, who drove their private cars full of people who were bleeding to the hospital. Don’t forget them. And don’t forget what’s going on in Puerto Rico, either, because just because they’re not the lead story today, they still need help.

And if you want to help either one of those cities-Puerto Rico is not a city, obviously-but Vegas or Puerto Rico, a good way to do that is to give to the American Red Cross. There’s their information right there on the screen. And we send all our love to our family and friends in Las Vegas, and to everyone affected by this terrible event. I’m sorry for getting emotional, I’m not great with this kind of thing. But it’s important, you know?

SOURCESlate Magazine
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