CHICAGO (CBS) — Late-night hosts put aside comedy for the night and used their outlets on Monday to express their thoughts after what is being called the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.
Over 50 people were killed and more than 500 injured at the Route 91 Harvest Festival, when 64-year-old Stephen Paddock opened fire from above at his hotel room on the 32nd floor of Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.
Las Vegas native Jimmy Kimmel fought back tears on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” as he spoke about the massacre. He opened saying, “here we are again in the aftermath of another terrible, inexplicable, shocking and painful tragedy. This time in Las Vegas, that happens to be my hometown.”
“We wonder why,” he continued. “Even though there’s probably no way to ever know why a human being would do something like this to other human beings who are at a concert having fun and listening to music.”
After expressing his grief over the number of people dead and injured, Kimmel spoke about the shooter.
“The guy was an accountant, no criminal record,” he said. “The owner of the store that sold the killer some of the rifles said he passed the government mandated background check when he was in the store and he wasn’t on any watchlist. Didn’t seem to be a religious or political extremist. Came out of nowhere.”
Kimmel said he disagrees with people who say there was nothing that could have been done to prevent it.
“I disagree with that intensely, because of course there is something we can do about it. There’s a lot of things we can do about it. But we don’t which is interesting,” he said.
“Second Amendment, I guess our Four Fathers wanted us to have AK-47s is the argument I assume.”
Kimmel then called out lawmakers for failing to take action against gun violence.
“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 to allow it to happen?” Kimmel said.
He called out press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders for saying this is not the time for political debate, but he disagrees and said now is the time for political debate. He showed the faces of 56 senators who voted against stricter gun laws days after the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, which killed 49 people and is now the second-deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history.
“With all due respect, your thoughts and your prayers are insufficient,” Kimmel said of government officials. “We have a major problem with gun violence in this country and I guess they don’t care. And if I am wrong about that, fine do something about it, because I am sick of it.”
“I want this to be a comedy show,” Kimmel continued. “I hate talking about stuff like this. I just want to laugh about things every night. But it seems to becoming increasingly difficult lately. It feels like someone has opened a window into hell.”
But Kimmel was not alone in using his stand to talk about the shooting.
Seth Meyers opened the “Late Night with Seth Meyers” by sending his thoughts to the families of the victims and his thanks to the first responders and to those in Las Vegas who lined up to donate blood.
“Every hour we hear more stories about the incredible bravery exhibited by people, who risked their lives to save strangers,” Meyers said.
“It always seems like the worst displays of humanity in this country are immediately followed by the best. And then sadly that is followed by no actions at all. And then it repeats itself.”
He asked a question to Congress: 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 going to continue to be?
“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,” Meyers continued.
Meyers then talked about Rep. Steve Scalise, who returned to the House floor after being shot himself in an attack at a Virginia baseball field. Scalise said his being alive is proof that “miracles really do happen.”
“But is that the best plan D.C. has for dealing with gun violence? When there is a shooting we just pray for a miracle?” Meyers asked.
“If it’s going to be thoughts and prayers from here on out, the least you can do is be honest about that,” he said.
He concluded with a round of applause for first responders and all the heroes involved in the mass shooting.
Jimmy Fallon opened Monday night’s episode of “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” saying, “This morning we woke up to the news of another senseless shooting, this time in Las Vegas. In the face of tragedies and acts of terror, we need to remember that good still exists in this world.”
He kept the purpose of the show – to entertain – and introduced guests, Miley Cyrus and Adam Sandler who sang a rendition of Dido’s “No Freedom” as a tribute to the victims.
“We’re here to entertain you tonight, and that’s what we’re gonna do,” Fallon said.
At the end of the show, Miley Cyrus sang again, this time performing her 2009 song “The Climb” for the first time in years, as a message of hope.
Stephen Colbert started his late show by saying, “obviously this is a comedy show, but it is one that talks about what happens everyday. And today the national conversation is about the shooting in Las Vegas.
“And jokes aren’t appropriate to address the shock and grief and the anger we all feel, but I do want to take a moment before we begin the show to say that, once again, we want to send our thoughts and prayers to the victims and the families and everyone who’s hurt by this unimaginable cruelty.”
Americans cannot accept this as the new normal, Colbert said. He brought up President Trump’s comment on the shooting, calling it “pure evil” and Colbert agreed.
He posed the question: So what then, are we willing to do to combat pure evil?
The answer cannot be nothing, he said.
“The bar is so low right now. Congress can be heroes by doing literally anything: universal background checks or come up with a better answer, enforce Obama’s executive order that denied mentally ill gun purchases, or a better answer, reinstate the assault weapons ban or come up with a better answer. Anything but nothing.
“Doing nothing is cowardice. Doing something will take courage…” Colbert said.
Calling out to President Trump, he said, “You want to make American 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.
“Because if we are facing pure evil, then, by all means, offer thoughts and prayers. But think about what you need to do, and then pray for the courage to do it,” Colbert closed.
And finally on the “Late Late Show with James Corden” the host described the night and the feelings of those impacted by the shooting “something I cannot begin to imagine.”
“We are hearing stories of bravery and heroism by the resilient fans at the concert, the first responders and medical professionals in Las Vegas. People lining up to give blood – lines that started just hours after the shooting, because that’s what people do,” Corden said.
“It’s what they do in every city where a horrific attack takes place. Those will be far greater examples of true human nature than that shooter on the 32nd floor.”
He stated that the Las Vegas shooting was the “deadliest mass shooting in modern American history” – a record that has been set twice in just the two and a half years he’s been living in America. He stated another statistic: 11,660 people have died from gun violence in the last 275 days in the United States.
“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 everyone to fathom. Gun violence should not be a staple of American life. Some say it’s too early to talk about gun control. For those victims last night, it’s far too late.”