In what’s become a soul-sickening side job for late-night comedy hosts, both Seth Meyers on Late Night and Stephen Colbert on The Late Show had to shift gears on their Monday shows to find some way to address another horrifying act of gun violence. After yet another semiautomatic weapon-wielding asshole murdered 26 people (and seriously wounded a similar number) at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas on Sunday, both hosts struggled to talk about the unthinkable, little over a month after doing the same grim duty after another asshole with a semiautomatic weapon murdered 58 people (and wounded over 500 more) in Las Vegas.
Colbert sat somberly behind his desk and looked initially defeated by the task—even as he urged viewers to resist the understandable impulse to take refuge in hopelessness. A noted churchgoer himself, Colbert expressed a heartbroken solidarity with the parishioners of the First Baptist Church (“people, on a Sunday, going to love and serve the Lord”), and showed a restrainedly furious bafflement at those in the government who choose to offer only “thoughts and prayers” for dozens of dead and wounded gunned down while peacefully offering their own prayers on Sunday. Speaking of Congress’ unwillingness to address America’s gun crisis, Colbert said such inexplicable inaction is “unnatural,” continuing, “It’s inhuman. It just goes against our nature. We want to fix things.” Noting that, in addition to monsters like this most recent mass shooter, “There are some truly evil people out there who want you to feel powerless just for a buck.” Colbert pleaded with everyone to fight the hopelessness engendered by gun manufacturers, the NRA, and those politicians subservient to them, at the ballot box. “If you’re not gonna be hopeless, but you feel powerless, vote,” urged Colbert, “for someone who will do something.”
Seth Meyers, too, sat at his Late Night desk and stared down the camera to make his own direct appeal. But Meyers’ intended audience was those lawmakers who, he said contemptuously, are “soaked in NRA money and have no intention to do anything about guns.” Noting also that Donald Trump’s response to the massacre (which was perpetrated by a white guy and therefore not accompanied by a presidentially racist call to ban brown people) called the deaths of 26 people “a mental health... not a gun situation,” Meyers pointed out how the Republican Party and Trump clearly don’t care about that problem either. (Perhaps Meyers was thinking of the fact that one of Trump’s first acts after taking office was to overturn a President Obama-led law preventing those with serious mental health issues from purchasing guns. Or how every failed GOP healthcare proposal since Trump took office would deprive millions of necessary mental health assistance.) Like Colbert, Meyers had some advice, though his was for those politicians whose “transparent covering for the NRA and assault weapon manufacturers” will guarantee that they, once again, not do a damned thing to pass sensible gun control (or any gun control). “Just shut up,” snapped Meyers, telling people like Trump who cite “mental health” instead of America’s gun culture as the real problem (while doing exactly nothing about either) to at least have the decency to stop pretending they give a shit about anything but themselves, and gun industry cash.
In case you missed it, there are many state elections on Tuesday, November 7. If you need to know how your candidates stand on guns, there are many organizations that can help you make an informed decision.