A night after he and the other late-night hosts worked through their grief and anger about the massacre in Las Vegas and Republicans’ “thoughts, prayers, and literally nothing else” response to the shooting of 600 people by one asshole with a whole lot of military-grade weaponry, Trevor Noah invited a congressman from the other side of the aisle to offer some alternatives. Representative Jim Himes (D-CT) came on The Daily Show to talk about gun control, as he did after another nation-rocking mass shooting back in 2016. After joking that they only meet after horrible gun-related mass murders, Noah added that “it feels like there is always a mass shooting to see you after,” before asking noted gun control advocate Himes what Congress should and actually will do after this latest horrific mass shooting. (The 273rd in 275 days this year, for those who are counting.)
Calling Monday one of those days “when you just want to set your own hair on fire,” Himes dismantled the hypocrisy of his congressional colleagues who hold mandatory moments of silence for victims of gun violence while using the time directly after those moments to vote against any gun restrictions of any kind. Explaining his decision to not participate in this most recent meaningless gesture, Himes said, “If you’re in the one room where you can start fixing this problem that no other country has” and your only response is to not talk for a minute, then “that’s negligent, that’s not honoring anybody.” Noting that the vast majority of Americans (including gun owners) support common sense measures like universal background checks for gun buyers, bans on the sort of death-spewing assault weaponry used in Las Vegas (and the Pulse nightclub, and Sandy Hook Elementary School, and let’s look at this map again), and others, Himes called out his fellow lawmakers for being beholden to the National Rifle Organization, both for its massive donations to pro-gun candidates, and its threats to primary anyone who steps out of line.
Noah pressed Himes on the fact that Las Vegas mass murderer Stephen Paddock’s choice of semi-automatic weapons represents but a small percentage of the types of guns used most often in gun deaths, but Himes wasn’t having it. Calling such arguments “tool number seven” in the tactics the NRA uses to derail the gun control debate, Himes said that, in the wake of yet another unthinkable act of gun violence in America, looking for reasons not to act is the strategy of people who value guns—and gun industry cash—a whole lot more than people’s lives. For example, Himes pointed out that, when two-thirds of gun deaths are the result of suicides, simply making it “a little less easy to get the tool” could prevent a lot of pain.
Noah spent the first half of his show revealing how noted NRA boosters Fox News have been having a tough time making a white, 64-year-old millionaire their usual scapegoat after a national tragedy. (They tried, bless,’em with one commentator landing on “country music fans love religion” as a possible motivation for Paddock’s music festival targets, while smirking cautionary tale for why a conservative Daily Show will never work, Jesse Watters, landed on “it’s Colin Kaepernick’s fault,” somehow.) Asked what American citizens who don’t think everyone should be packing heat every second of the day can do in the face of NRA and Fox News propaganda and the action-stifling effect of gun lobby money on Congress, Himes pointed to the exhausting but effective example of direct action by constituents. Keeping relentless public pressure on their representatives like the kind that repeatedly stopped the Republican Party’s attempts to kill the Affordable Care Act (and a lot of their constituents) by going to town meetings, making calls, and writing letters works, according to Himes, only if representatives can feel the heat of voters asking every minute of every day, “What are you going to do about it?”