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A Shaken Stephen Colbert Talks Texas Shooting: “Prayers Won’t End This”

Some late night hosts were in the midst of filming their shows as news broke that at least 21 students and adults had been killed Tuesday in a mass shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas. Hosts including Stephen Colbert and James Corden were forced to address the tragedy, which has become the deadliest mass shooting in the United States this year. 

Colbert delivered the news to his audience at the top of his Late Show monologue. “And while we can add our prayers for the dead,” he said, stopping for about six seconds before continuing, “there is nothing that can ever be said that can approach the immeasurable grief of those families. 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.”

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The host, who later spoke with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern about her country’s gun control policies, then urged viewers to take their grief to the ballot box. “Prayers won’t end this,” Colbert said. “Voting might. So when you vote, ask yourself this question: ‘Who, running for office, has publicly stated that they’re willing to do anything and everything in their power to protect your children from the criminally insane number of guns in America?’”

News about the Texas shooting broke as Corden neared the end of taping on The Late Late Show. “It’s unfathomable,” he said. “As a father, I can’t imagine the horror of that phone call.  When I dropped my kids off at school this morning, and kissed them goodbye, it doesn’t cross your mind that that could ever be the last goodbye.”

Corden also yearned for “meaningful changes to gun laws,” praising America for being “on the forefront of medicine, of technology, of innovation,” and yet being “one of the most backward places in the world” regarding gun control. “This year there have been no school shootings in England. This year there have been no school shootings in Japan. This year there have been no school shootings in Australia. This year there have been 27 school shootings in America, and 212 mass shootings,” Corden continued. “And we are 5 months into the year.”

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He concluded his remarks by offering a bleak promise, should current U.S. gun policy remain. “Nothing will change,” Corden said. “Gun money will continue to get in the way of morality. And so just as I stood here last week and talked about a mass shooting at a grocery store in Buffalo, today is an elementary school in Texas,” he said. “I will probably be stood here talking in another week or two about another place. Words of ‘thoughts and prayers’ will come from our leaders…. but I fear change never will.”

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