From the second he started his nearly 10-minute monologue Monday night focused on the mass shooting in Las Vegas, Jimmy Kimmel was near tears.
Kimmel’s raw emotion — something rarely seen on television and even more unique for a late-night comedian — made for a remarkably compelling moment amid the national mourning for the victims of the attack outside the Mandalay Bay casino late Sunday night.
It was also a stirring call to action as Kimmel urged members of Congress to do something — anything — about the wave of gun violence in the country.
“When someone with a beard attacks us, we tap phones, we invoke travel bans, we build walls, we take every precaution to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Kimmel said. “When an American buys a gun and kills other Americans, we say there’s nothing we can do about that.”
Kimmel veered between breaking down in tears and angrily denouncing the National Rifle Association for its refusal to budge on what he described as “common sense” measures to limit these mass catastrophes committed with guns.
Of Republican lawmakers who voted against gun control measures in the wake of last year’s shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando that left 49 people dead, Kimmel said: “They should be praying for God to forgive them for letting the gun lobby run this country.” (Kimmel showed pictures on screen of many of the senators and House members who voted against that legislation.)
While Kimmel’s anger — and lines like the one above — will likely draw most of the attention (and criticism from Republicans), the most striking moment of his monologue for me came when he expressed his weariness with the predictable repetitiveness of this cycle of gun violence.
Here’s that moment:
“We’ll pray for Las Vegas … 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 and will move on to the next thing. And then it will happen again. And again.”
That cycle is already playing itself out. A handful of Democratic senators, including Chris Murphy of Connecticut, a leading voice pushing for gun control, are set to hold a news conference in Washington Tuesday pushing for closing the “gun show loophole” and expanding background checks. President Donald Trump, en route to Puerto Rico to view the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria, gave a vague statement: “We’ll be talking about gun laws.”
Rinse. Wash. Repeat.
As I documented Monday, views on guns are tied very closely not only to partisanship but also to culture. Gun owners believe owning a gun is a fundamental freedom that, if curtailed, is a slippery slope to losing that right (and others with it) entirely. Gun control supporters see the claims of 2nd Amendment rights as a catch-all for avoiding any real debate on the matter.
Unfortunately, Kimmel’s comments are already being sliced and diced by the political machine. Republicans, citing his opposition to their attempts to repeal and replace Obamacare — and the fact he consulted with Senate Democrats on some talking points — dismiss him as just another liberal Hollywood type, out of touch with real America.
But people should watch Kimmel’s full monologue — whether you agree with him or not. His anger, his sadness, his frustration, his confusion, his real and honest emotion are not something that should be so easily dismissed as just more political pablum.
“It feels like someone has opened a window into hell,” Kimmel said of the Las Vegas shootings. No matter where you come down on gun control, it’s hard to disagree.