JOANNA ELM, Author, Journalist, Attorney

‘Someone Opened A Window Into Hell’ –TV Talk Show Hosts Battle Guns


“It seems like someone has opened a window into hell.” That’s how Jimmy Kimmel described it on his show this week. And there was no punch line.

Fifty-Eight Gunned Down

He was talking about the mass shooting in Las Vegas where 58 concertgoers lost their lives, and 500 more were injured. He was probably also thinking about the other horrific images of the week showing the devastation in hurricane ravaged Puerto Rico. Kimmel said he didn’t want to be talking about these things. “I want to laugh and do a comedy show,” he told his audience. But he couldn’t do his job. Neither could Trevor Noah, host of The Daily Show, or Stephen Colbert on The Late Show.

TV Talk Show Hosts Take On Guns

Neither could I. I didn’t want to talk or hear about the subject of guns or gun control in this country. But talk about it was all over our TV screens. Talk was everywhere except in the halls of Congress. Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, was among the first to say that “now” wasn’t the time to for political debate about gun control.

Kimmel replied: “58 innocent people are dead. It wasn’t their time either.” Trevor Noah pointed out that there is a mass shooting in America almost every day, so that means ” it’s never going to be time to talk about gun control.”  Stephen Colbert said : “doing nothing is cowardice. Pass any kind of common sense gun control legislation.”

TV Talk Show Hosts v. Hannity

The debate effectively moved into the arena dominated by late night TV talk show hosts with Kimmel, Noah and Colbert lined up against Sean Hannity of Fox News. Hannity, who deplored the fact that TV talk shows, and liberal “elites” were politicizing a mass shooting to push their gun control agendas, went on for more than a half-hour to push his own agenda against gun control. He said liberal elites and Hollywood stars hide in secure, gated developments and are provided with massive security when they appear at public events, but want to deny “regular folks” the chance to defend themselves against criminals.

Guns Kill People

This, despite the fact that the FBI has produced statistics which show that there was an average of 213 justified firearm homicides (self-defense) per year between 2005 and 2010. On the other hand, in 2012, there were 8,342 criminal homicides by the use of guns; 20,666 suicides by gun; and 548 unintentional shootings. In any event, the Las Vegas shooter, Stephen Paddock did not own a gun for his own protection. He had amassed an arsenal of more than 40 guns, rifles and semi-automatic weapons with bump stocks, 23 of which he brought to Mandalay Bay, the hotel from which he shot into and through the crowd of more than 20,000 innocent concertgoers.

No-one has any real hope that lawmakers will pass any sort of gun control legislation anytime soon. As I commented in a squib earlier this year: if 20 dead children (aged between 6-7 years) who were gunned down in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre can’t bring about a change in laws on gun possession, nothing will.

Balls In A Money Clip

Jimmy Kimmel agreed. He said the National Rifle Association will smother any gun control bill. He posted the photos of 56 senators who have received campaign contributions from the NRA and said: “The NRA has their balls in a money clip. The gun lobby runs this country.”

That’s not quite accurate, Jimmy: The gun lobby and Big Pharma run this country together.  And, interestingly, published news reports after the mass shooting revealed that Paddock had been taking diazepam anti-anxiety medication since last June. Some experts speculated that the medication can trigger aggression, other experts stated that marksmen use diazepam to calm their nerves and steady their aim. In which case, that would make Paddock the poster child for the “perfect” confluence of the two biggest “killers” (guns and prescription drugs) in America today.

WTF? Congress Wants To Deregulate Silencers

If there was a light hearted note on any of the late night shows immediately after the massacre, it came from Trevor Noah on the Daily Show who remarked on the fact that the massacre had occurred in the middle of a debate in Congress on lifting the stringent background checks required for the sale of gun silencers.

“Mass shootings are out of control,” he said. So, of course, the question our lawmakers are asking is: “How do we make them quieter?”


Photo Credits: Top photos: Drew Angerer/Getty Images; and Ricardo Arduengo/AFP/Getty Images







  1. Insightful as always Joanna. Those stats are mind boggling. As a Canadian I often wonder why Americans are so afraid of their fellow citizens that they feel the need to own guns. This of course being the standard response to any challenge to gun ownership… we need them for defense. All so tragic 🙁

    • Hi Eldon, I agree the stats are mind boggling, but then nothing really makes sense about owning an arsenal of guns. I’m not sure either that most Americans who own guns are afraid of their fellow citizens. To hear, Morning Joe tell it: most of those who own arsenals are afraid that the government is coming to get them!!!!

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