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Jimmy Kimmel has always had an everyman appeal. Now, that manifests itself as an everyday guy who's trying to make sense of our politics—and is appalled at what he finds. There was healthcare, when he rallied a huge swathe of the country (opens in new tab) against the grotesque Republican "reform" bills. And now there is the horror in Las Vegas (opens in new tab)—Kimmel's hometown. "It feels like someone has opened a window into hell," he said last night, towards the end of a formidable monologue in which he marked the severity of the tragedy, then demanded action from both lawmakers and the public in a way it seems few others can.
There was something captivating about watching Kimmel—a self-professed newcomer to tackling political issues—attempt to tackle America's unhinged gun debate. He illustrated the absurdity of having something so obviously wrong (opens in new tab), yet insisting there's nothing you could possibly do about it.
Later, Kimmel channeled the helplessness these moments can generate:
But Kimmel wasn't helpless. He reminded the audience that there is a strong constituency for action on guns: 99 percent of Democrats and 77 percent of Republicans are in favor of universal background checks. 89 percent of everybody want to stop mentally ill people from obtaining guns.
Witnessing the Vegas Shooting Changed This Man's Stance on Gun Control
Yet, as Kimmel sharply put it, President Trump signed an executive order in February reversing an Obama-era initiative (opens in new tab) that made it harder for some mentally ill people to obtain guns. Keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill seems like the most common sense measure possible, yet it is beyond a Republican Congress and White House afraid to ever strain against the NRA's tight leash. Kimmel drove that home by throwing up the photos of all the senators who voted against background checks after Orlando, the last most-deadly-mass-shooting-in-modern-American-history. That was last summer.
But Kimmel has learned enough about the disease in our politics—the disease that has infected the Republican Party from top to bottom—to know how fierce the opposition will be to the idea civilians should not wield military-grade weapons on American streets. He had a line for the Republicans who will vote against any bill, ever, that would lead to even one fewer gun being sold in America, and are instead content to offer their thoughts and their prayers as this happens over and over again.
Yes, indeed they should. They don't reserve many spots in heaven for those who watch the mass slaughter of innocents with a shrug.
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