Stephen Colbert praises Parkland students' campaign for gun reform

Chicago Tribune 7 months ago

Stephen Colbert would like to change the voting age.

"Until we do something about guns, you can't vote if you're over 18," he said Tuesday night on "The Late Show."

His quip references the campaigns for stricter gun control carried out by high schoolers in Parkland, Florida, where 17 people were killed last week in the second-deadliest shooting at a U.S. public school. Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have taken charge, posting in favor of gun control on social media and inspiring others to organize school walkouts across the nation.

"These students saw their leaders doing nothing and said, 'Hold my root beer,'" Colbert said.

The late-night host criticized lawmakers like Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who he said "completely abdicated responsibility." In a featured clip, Rubio echoes claims previously made by several legislators: If a disturbed person has decided they want to commit this crime, they'll find a way to get the guns to do it.

Colbert wasn't having it.

"As long as we're being clear and honest, senator," he said, "as a lawmaker, your position is, 'The laws are useless! Everyone into the Thunderdome!' Then why do we need you? It seems like a houseplant would do a better job and would probably need a little less water."

Around 100 students took a bus to Tallahassee, Florida, Tuesday morning to ask state legislators to reinstate a ban on assault weapons. With school shooting survivors watching from the gallery, the Florida House of Representatives voted down a motion to debate a ban on many semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity magazines.

There's one group that gives Colbert hope about our ability to protect American children, he said, and it's the children themselves. Clips of Stoneman Douglas students pushing for gun control have gone viral on the internet, and Colbert shared a few during the episode.

Junior Cameron Kasky said on CNN, "We are losing our lives while the adults are playing around."

His peer David Hogg, on CBS' "Face the Nation," directed comments to lawmakers: "Are you kidding me? You think now is the time to focus on the past, and not the future to prevent the death of thousands of other children? You sicken me."

Survivors are planning to protest gun violence next month by marching in Washington, D.C., one of many actions that inspired Colbert.

"Someone else may be in power but this country belongs to them, and there's reason for hope," he said. "Look at the #MeToo moment. A lot of men in power did not see that coming, but it proved that change can happen overnight.

"And this is an election year. So if you want to see change, you have to go to the polls and tell the people who will not protect you that their time is up."

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