When Conan O’Brien walked into work the morning after the Las Vegas massacre, his head writer handed him a stack of papers. That act became the centerpiece of his monologue.
“He said, ‘Here are the remarks you made after the Sandy Hook shooting and the Pulse night club attacks in Orlando. You might want to look at them to see what you might want to say tonight,'” O’Brien recounted of the conversation.
Mass shootings, the kind with the headline-grabbing intensity that compels even a late-night talk show host to address, have become so routine that O’Brien’s staff actually had a file filled with his past responses to them. He was horrified.
“How could there be a file of mass shooting remarks for a late night host?” he asked, incredulously.
When O’Brien first started in late night, it was “practically unheard of” for a host to have to address this type of event.
A bevy of data show all the ways mass shootings have gotten more deadly and more frequent over the past several decades in the U.S. Over that same span of time, interestingly, Pew Research found that support for gun ownership over gun control has risen.
“When did this become a ritual?” asks O’Brien.
O’Brien doesn’t have the answers — and neither do members of Congress, apparently — but we cannot simply accept that this is just something that happens and will always happen.
Will strict gun control measures put an end to mass shootings? Maybe. Maybe not. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t at least try to take action to make accessing these types of weapons more difficult for people who wish to use them to commit acts of mass death and destruction.
That shouldn’t be so much to ask.