Stephen Colbert praised the resiliency of students from Parkland, Florida, who, following the deadly shooting last week at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, became their own advocates in the fight for gun control. The Late Show host dedicated Tuesday's monologue to the students' inspiring actions.
"Like you, I was sickened and heartbroken – not only by the attack and the loss of innocent life but by what I feared would be the complete lack of action by our leaders," Colbert said. "And that feeling was completely reinforced by statements like this from people like Marco Rubio, who completely abdicated responsibility."
The host then cut to a clip of the Florida senator explaining his logic behind gun control inaction. "You could pass a new law that makes it hard to get this kind of gun in a new condition, but you're gonna struggle to keep it out of the hands of someone who's decided that's what they want to use," Rubio said. "I'm just trying to be clear and honest here: If someone's decided, 'I'm going to commit this crime,' they'll find a way to get the gun to do it."
"OK, as long as we're being clear and honest, Senator, your position is, 'The laws are useless – everyone into the Thunderdome,' then why do we need you?" Colbert fired back. "But there is one group that does give me hope that we can do something to protect the children, and, sadly, it's the children: the students from Parkland, Florida. These students saw their leaders doing nothing and said, 'Hold my root beer.'"
After the shooting, Parkland students made impassioned televised addresses, organized anti-gun rallies and traveled to Tallahassee to present their case for reinstating the assault weapons ban. The Florida House voted down the motion, but Colbert remained optimistic that a movement may already be underway.
"I hope these kids don't give up because this is their lives and their future," he said. "Someone else may be in power, but this country belongs to them. And there's reason for hope. Look at the Me Too movement: 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."