Conan O’Brien, Samantha Bee, Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah and Jimmy Fallon all took to their late-night shows to address the shooting at a nightclub in Orlando, Fla., over the weekend. The tragedy was the largest mass shooting in United States history, so instead of sticking to one-liners, the late-night hosts addressed the event full-on because telling jokes “was not really possible.”
On TBS’ “Conan,” O’Brien said the bottom line was: “Nobody I know or have ever met in my entire life should have access to a weapon that can kill so many people so quickly.”
O’Brien is a father of two who generally stays away from matters of policy as he claims he’s no “expert” on them. However, the current situation surrounding weapons sales in the U.S. caused him to break that rule.
“I simply cannot understand why anyone in this country is allowed to purchase and own a semi-automatic assault rifle. It makes no sense to me. These are weapons of war and they have no place in civilian life,” said O’Brien.
“The news out of Orlando is still impossible to fathom — that so many people can lose their lives so quickly because of someone’s demented rage — will never make sense and God help us if it ever does,” said O’Brien.
He encouraged viewers to donate to the GoFundMe page for the victims of the Orlando shooting. O’Brien couldn’t figure out a solution to the ongoing problem in the country, but agreed with a rapidly growing sentiment in America that “it’s time to grow up and figure this out.”
“Full Frontal’s” Bee started out similar to O’Brien, but took it up a notch. Instead of starting with something like “love wins,” she pointed out that although that’s great and beautiful, it’s not enough.
“You know what? F–k it! I am too angry for that. Love does not win unless we start loving each other enough to fix our f–king problems,” said Bee.
“Hey, is it okay if, instead of making jokes, I just scream for seven minutes until we go to commercial?” she added. But instead, Bee went on to point out the sheer amount of mass shootings that have plagued the country and how easy it was for the “mass shooter du jour” to access weapons.
“He beat his ex-wife, he had been reported multiple times to his employer as homophobic and unhinged and the FBI has twice questioned him for terrorism,” she said. “But none of these things disqualified him from buying a gun that shoots 45 rounds a minute.”
The host lightened the tone a little by adding that not even his “terrible mirror selfies” disqualified him from that.
“I think we can all agree that if you don’t have one friend to hold the phone for you, your lone-wolf ass doesn’t get a gun,” she said.
She pointed out that only President Obama thought that letting suspected extremists buy guns is a bad idea. She also went on to mock elected officials for their advice to pray as a solution.
“We pray after every mass shooting and yet they keep happening. Maybe we’re not praying right. Can we check the instruction manual?” she said.
CBS’ “Late Show” host Colbert, sickened by the news, asked himself and the crowd what “we can possibly say in the face of this horror?”
“It’s as if there’s a national script that we have learned, and I think by accepting the script, we tacitly accept that the script will end the same way every time, with nothing changing, except for the loved ones and the families of the victims, for whom nothing will ever be the same,” he said.
Colbert added that it’s easy to feel paralyzed by such a heinous act. But instead of feeling despair and giving hate a victory, he said that love makes us strong and can be the vehicle for change.
“Love makes us strong. Love gives us the courage to act. Love gives us hope that change is possible. Love allows us to change the script. So love your country. Love your family. Love the families and the victims and the people of Orlando, but let’s remember that love is a verb. And to love means to do something,” he said.
Noah pointed out that the room that Obama spoke from about the mass shooting, the 16th time he’s done so, was named after James S. Brady, who suffered a gun wound in 1981 after the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan.
“That’s how much gun violence is a part of American life,” said Noah. “Even the room that the president talks about gun violence from is named for a victim of gun violence. I wonder if President Obama ever thought to himself that mass shooting speeches would be such a big part of his job.”
Noah noted that it seems that, because the shootings keep happening, it’s as if the United States wants to be this kind of country.
“Just because there’s a problem with terrorism doesn’t mean there isn’t also a problem with access to guns,” he said. “And I understand that Americans love guns. But this love comes at a cost.”
Noah, who is from South Africa, is no stranger to violent crime. He added that before the United States attempts to fight terrorism, it must first self-reflect.
“It’s clear here. America needs to ask itself the question: Do you want to be a country that takes reasonable measures to protect its citizens, or should we tell the president to prepare speech No. 17?”
“This country was built on the idea that we do not all agree on everything, that we are a tolerant, free nation that encourages debate, free thinking, believing or not in what you choose,” said “The Tonight Show” host.
Fallon was very vocal about accepting and supporting each other’s differences. As a new father, he grapples with what to tell his children about the world, but these situations can be viewed as a lesson of tolerance.
“We have to get away from believing or supporting the idea that if someone doesn’t live the way you want them to live, you just buy a gun and kill them, bomb them up. That is not okay.”
“We need to get back to being brave enough to accept that we have different opinions and that’s okay, that’s what America is built on — this idea that we can stand up and speak our minds and live our lives and not be punished for that. Or mocked on the internet. Or killed by someone you don’t know,” he added.
He uplifted viewers by saying, “there will always be more good than evil” and ended his opening monologue with: “Keep loving and keep respecting each other and keep on dancing.”