Academy Award–winning actor Matthew McConaughey appeared at the White House press briefing on Tuesday, where he called on lawmakers to pass a series of gun control measures.
During what many have described as a “passionate” speech, McConaughey, a gun owner himself, called on Congress to “reach a higher ground” and pass gun control legislation in response to last month’s school shooting at an elementary school in his home town of Uvalde, Texas, that left 21 dead.
“As I said, this moment is different,” McConaughey said. “We are in a window of opportunity right now that we have not been in before. A window in where it seems like real change — real change can happen.”
McConaughey said he and his wife drove back to Uvalde after hearing of the shooting and spent time with the victims and families affected. “How can the loss of these lives matter?” McConaughey asked reporters. “While we honor and acknowledge the victims, we need to recognize that this time, seems like something else is different.”
“We heard from so many people: Families of the deceased, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, Texas Rangers, hunters, border patrol and responsible gun owners who won’t give up their Second Amendment rights,” he said. “They all said, ‘We want secure and safe schools and we want gun laws that won’t make it so easy for the bad guys to get these damn guns.’”
McConaughey grew emotional as he delivered his 22-minute speech, at times becoming teary-eyed and slapping the podium. He used his time to call for legislation to “invest in mental healthcare,” “safer schools” and to “restrain sensationalized media coverage.”
He continued: “We need to restore our family values. We need to restore our American values and we need responsible gun ownership,” adding, “Is this a cure all? Hell no, but people are hurting.”
“Responsible gun owners are fed up with the Second Amendment being abused and hijacked by some deranged individuals,” he said, calling more gun laws a “step forward.”
He also condemned politicians for their lack of unity. “We are not as divided as we’re being told we are,” he insisted, calling for some “middle ground” on the issue of gun control. “This should be a non-partisan issue,” he said. “We got take a sober, humble and honest look in the mirror and rebrand ourselves on what we truly value.”
McConaughey, who earlier this year considered a run for governor in Texas before deciding against such a move, met briefly with President Biden before before delivering his speech.
McConaughey has also met with key lawmakers this week, including the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer; Dick Durbin, the chairman of the Senate judiciary committee, which handles gun legislation; and the panel’s ranking Republican, Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa.
McConaughey, who declined to take questions, spoke of his own connections to the town. He said his mother had taught kindergarten less than a mile from Uvalde’s Robb elementary school, the site of the shooting, which took place on May 24. He also said that Uvalde was the place where he was taught about responsibilities that come with gun ownership.
His White House appearance came a day after the actor wrote an op-ed in the The Austin American-Statesman titled “It’s Time to Act on Gun Responsibility.”
In that op-ed, McConaughey urged Congress to learn the difference between gun “control” and “responsibility,” adding: “I believe that responsible, law-abiding Americans have a Second Amendment right, enshrined by our founders, to bear arms. I also believe we have a cultural obligation to take steps toward slowing down the senseless killing of our children.”
“There is no constitutional barrier to gun responsibility,” McConaughey wrote. “Keeping firearms out of the hands of dangerous people is not only the responsible thing to do, it is the best way to protect the Second Amendment. We can do both.”
The Independent has provided a full transcript of McConaughey’s speech here.
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