In his first show since the mass shooting that killed 49 people and injured 53 at an Orlando gay nightclub, Conan O’Brien scrapped his usual joke-filled monologue on Monday night’s installment of TBS’ Conan to somberly address Sunday’s tragedy — and weigh in the highly divisive issue of gun control in America.
Acknowledging that his job is to entertain and tell jokes, the clearly choked-up late-night host explained that it was “not really possible” to do so after a “horrifying” event like this. “The news out of Orlando yesterday is still impossible to fathom,” he said. “That so many people could lose their lives so quickly, because of one person’s demented rage, will never make sense, and God help us if it ever does.
“Now, I am not a pundit,” he continued. “I am not an expert. And I have always, always made it a policy to stick to my job and keep my opinions to myself. I have really tried very hard over the years not to bore you with what I think. However, I am a father of two. I like to believe I have a shred of common sense. And I simply do not understand why anybody in this country is allowed to purchase and own a semi-automatic assault rifle. It makes no sense to me.”
As the audience applauded and cheered, he added: “These are weapons of war, and they have no place in civilian life. I have tried to understand this issue from every side, and it all comes down to this: Nobody I know or have ever met in my entire life should have access to a weapon that can kill so many people so quickly. These mass shootings are happening so often now, that lamenting them afterwards is becoming a national ritual. I do not know the answer, but I wanted to take just a moment here tonight to agree with the rapidly growing sentiment in America that it’s time to grow up and figure this out.”
O’Brien concluded by mentioning that viewers can help the in-need victims and their families in Orlando at gofundme.com/pulsevictimsfund, which has already raised more than $2.6 million.
You can watch his powerful monologue above.