Now is not the time to talk about guns in America, some said in the aftermath of the massacre of 59 people Sunday in Las Vegas.
But late night host Jimmy Kimmel was not one of those people. In his Monday night monologue, Kimmel choked up several times as he begged Congress and voters to get serious, now, about gun control.
Invoking recent gun-related tragedies across the country, Kimmel mentioned the early Sunday shootings in downtown Lawrence that left three people dead. The victims were Leah Elizabeth Brown, 22, of Shawnee, and Colwin Lynn Henderson III, 20, and Tre’Mel Dupree Dean, 24, both of Topeka.
“I don’t know why our so-called leaders continue to allow this to happen,” Kimmel said in his passionate plea.
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“Or maybe a better question: Why do we continue to let them to allow it to happen? Five people got shot in Lawrence, Kansas, last night. Three of them died. 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 go on to the next thing, and then it will happen again. And again.”
On Monday, Fox News host Sean Hannity said it was “shameful,” “exploitive” and “pathetic” for people to talk about guns in those first hours after the tragedy.
“Bodies weren’t even in the morgue yet,” Hannity said. “Parents were in hospitals with their kids who are hanging on to life. None of this mattered to the left in this country.”
At a press briefing Monday afternoon, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders avoided questions about gun control, saying there’s “a time and place for a political debate, but now is the time to unite as a country.”
“Well, 59 people died,” Kimmel said in his late-night monologue. “It wasn’t their time either, so maybe it is time for a political discussion.”
The slayings literally hit close to home for Kimmel, who moved to Vegas with his family from Brooklyn, N.Y., when he was 9. He went to high school there and attended the University of Nevada Las Vegas, which gave him an honorary degree in 2013.
This is the second time in recent weeks Kimmel has injected himself into a hot political debate. He became a high-profile voice against Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Access to health care became a personal issue after his son was born with a heart defect, and he devoted several monologues on the topic.
He said Monday night that he’d rather stick to comedy than tackle hot-button issues.
“I hate talking about this stuff. I want this to be a comedy show,” he said. “It feels like someone has opened a window into hell.”
Today, Kimmel said, “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 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 use them to shoot people.”
Kimmel said he “intensely” disagrees with people who say nothing can be done to prevent more massacres, given that the Vegas shooter didn’t display any warning signs.
“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,” he said.
“But when an American buys a gun and kills other Americans, then there’s ‘nothing we can do about that.’”