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Stephen Colbert delivered an emotional message during his Late Show monologue Tuesday night following an 18-year-old gunman’s mass shooting at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, claiming the lives of at least 19 schoolchildren and two adults.
“Now, ladies and gentlemen, we taped this show earlier in the day, and I just want to let you know, shortly before I came out here tonight, we learned of the unspeakable shooting in Uvalde, Texas, today. And while we can add our prayers for the dead, there is nothing that can ever be said that can approach the immeasurable grief of those families.”
He continued: “But while we’re at it, let’s pray this time our leaders show a modicum of courage in trying to prevent this from ever happening again. But prayers won’t end this. Voting might. So when you vote, ask yourself this question: Who, running for office, has publicly stated that they are willing to do anything and everything in their power to protect your children from the criminally insane number of guns in America?”
Later, he welcomed New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as a guest, and the two discussed how her country instituted strict gun-control laws and a gun-buyback plan in the wake of the 2019 Christchurch mosque shootings—in which a far-right extremist killed 51 people. (Only one lawmaker out of 120 voted against the bill.) The measures have managed to curb gun violence in the country.
“Why was New Zealand able to do that when we can’t do so much as pass universal background checks for people with a history of mental illness or violent behavior even though 91 percent of Americans approve that?” asked Colbert.
“I can only speak to our experience in New Zealand, but when I watch from afar and see events such as those today, I think of them not as a politician—I see them just as a mother, and I’m so sorry for what has happened here,” she said. “And then I think about what happened to us, and all I can reflect is: We are a very pragmatic people. When we saw something like that happen, everyone said, ‘Never again.’ And so then it was incumbent on us as politicians to respond to that.”
“Now, we have legitimate needs for guns in our country for things like peace control and to protect our biodiversity, but you don’t need a military-style semiautomatic weapon to do that. And so we got rid of that,” she added.