Late night comedian Jimmy Kimmel delivered a searing and emotional monologue Monday evening expressing disbelief at the scope of Sunday’s brutal massacre in Las Vegas and exasperation at lawmakers who offered “thoughts and prayers” but not direct action.
Kimmel, who moved to Las Vegas when he was a child, immediately broke into tears as the camera began rolling.
“Well hello everyone. Here we are again,” he said, his voice trembling. “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 hometown, and (band member) Cleto’s hometown and Cleto senior’s hometown.”
He summed up the facts of the tragedy: a “very sick” man amassed an arsenal of weapons in a hotel room at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino and rained automatic weapon fire on tens of thousands of people attending a country music festival. More than 500 were injured and 59 were killed.
“This morning, we have children without parents and fathers without sons, mothers without daughters. We lost two police officers.” He broke into a choked silence. “It’s the kind of thing that 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.”
But Kimmel grew increasingly agitated as he condemned lawmakers and others whom he says call these tragedies unavoidable.
“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.”
“President Trump is visiting Las Vegas on Wednesday. He spoke this morning, he said he was 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,” Kimmel said.
He then listed a few other lawmakers who he said sent their “thoughts and prayers” after the Las Vegas shooting, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.
“They should be praying. They should be praying for God to forgive them for letting the gun lobby run this country,” he said.
Kimmel referenced White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ Monday afternoon statement that it was not a time for political discussions.
“Well, 59 people died, it wasn’t their time either, so maybe it is time for a political discussion,” he said.
It’s not the first time Jimmy Kimmel has leapt out of the world of traditional late-night variety into the forefront of a national political issue.
After Kimmel’s newborn son was born with a severe heart defect, he angrily denounced Republican plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare. The deeply personal monologues, repeated over many weeks, touched off a national conversation and led to the coinage of the “Kimmel Test,” which says “No family should be denied medical care, emergency or otherwise, because they can’t afford it.”
But Kimmel said he never wanted it to be this way.
“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.”