Uvalde native Matthew McConaughey visits White House to plead for change
From the White House briefing room, actor Matthew McConaughey urges lawmakers to act on gun safety, in wake of mass shooting in his Texas hometown.
Actor Matthew McConaughey delivered an impassioned speech in the White House briefing room Tuesday, calling for stricter gun laws in the wake of the deadly school shooting last month in his hometown in Texas.
After meeting with lawmakers on Capitol Hill and President Biden in the Oval Office, McConaughey stepped to the podium and lent some star power to the push to tighten the nation’s gun laws, conveying a range of emotions: anger, sadness and hope that elected officials might finally act.
“How can we make the loss of those lives matter?” he asked at the outset of his remarks, suggesting that change might be possible in the aftermath of the massacre in Uvalde, Texas, which left 19 fourth-graders and two teachers dead.
“We are in a window of opportunity right now that we have not been in before,” he said. “A window where it seems like real change, real change can happen.”
McConaughey spoke about how he and his wife, Camila, drove to Uvalde in the days following the shooting, describing his interactions with the loved ones of several victims.
Choking up, he held up a laminated drawing by Alithia Ramirez, whose parents told him she had wanted to be an artist. Flashing anger, McConaughey slammed the podium after holding up the green Converse shoes of another victim, Maite Rodriguez, and explaining that the shoes were what allowed her family to identify her body.
“Every parent separately expressed in their own way that they want their children’s dreams to live on,” the actor said. “They want their children to continue to accomplish something after they are gone. They want to make their loss of life matter.”
Clarifying what that meant, he continued: “We want gun laws that won’t make it so easy for the bad guys to get the damn guns.”
McConaughey, who recalled learning about firearm safety as a child in Uvalde with an air-pellet rifle, called for “responsible gun ownership,” suggesting that there is a broad, bipartisan majority supportive of expanding background checks, raising the minimum age for purchasing assault rifles to 21 and enacting red flag laws.
“These are reasonable, practical regulations,” he said. “Responsible gun owners are fed up with the 2nd Amendment being abused and hijacked by some deranged individual.”
Without explicitly calling out Republicans, who for years have blocked Democratic efforts to enact gun restrictions, McConaughey said the issue should not be a partisan one and implored lawmakers in both parties to act.
“We can’t truly be leaders,” he said, “if we’re only living for reelection.”
President Biden promised in an address Thursday that his call for Congress to pass laws to curb gun violence was “not about taking away anyone’s guns.”
After McConaughey left the briefing room without taking questions, Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the White House is “encouraged” with how the talks are progressing, even though it’s unlikely any agreement would go as far as Biden — and now McConaughey — called for.
Biden, who delivered a prime time address urging action on gun laws last week, met Tuesday with Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), one of the four-person bipartisan group working to hammer out a compromise on gun safety, Jean-Pierre said.
“We’re going to see how those negotiations go,” she said, stating that Biden “believes any step is a step forward.”
The mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, and Tulsa, Okla., are again putting the focus on gun control measures such as waiting periods to buy firearms.
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