“Real change can happen”: Matthew McConaughey pushed for gun reform at the White House
But he stopped short of recommending anything that would “infringe on our second amendment rights.”
Matthew McConaughey visited the White House on Tuesday to speak about gun violence following the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas last week. A native of Uvalde, the actor advocated for what he saw as a crucial moment for political action after 21 victims, including 19 children, were killed at Robb Elementary school.
“We are in a window of opportunity right now that we have not been in before. A window where it seems like real change — real change — can happen,” said McConaughey, who visited privately with President Biden prior to the briefing.
In an often emotional speech, McConaughey, who traveled to Uvalde with his family the day after the shooting, told heartbreakingly personal stories of some of the children who were killed. At one point, a choked-up McConaughey slammed the podium in frustration while recalling chilling details about the victims.
“We know what’s on the table,” McConaughey said. “We need to invest in mental health care. We need safer schools. We need to restrain sensationalized media coverage, We need to restore our family values. We need to restore our American values. And we need responsible gun ownership.”
The 52-year old actor, who has publicly flirted with the idea of running for office in Texas, echoed some of the talking points he made in an op-ed earlier this week in the Austin American-Statesman. Notably, in his op-ed and on the stand, he referred to political action in the wake of the tragedy as a means to “gun responsibility” as opposed to “gun control.” McConaughey’s semantic rebranding is ostensibly meant to capture bipartisan support for legislation he advocates for — though his call to action on Tuesday avoided certain proposed solutions such as banning assault-style weapons including the AR-15, the same weapon that was used in Uvalde and in some of the deadliest mass shootings on record.
“We need background checks,” McConaughey said. “We need to raise the minimum age to purchase an AR-15 rifle to 21. We need a waiting period for those rifles. We need red flag laws and consequences for those who abuse them. These are reasonable practical tactical regulations to our nations, states, communities, schools, and homes. Responsible gun owners are fed up with the second amendment being hijacked by some deranged individuals. These regulations are not a step back, they’re a step forward for a civil society and the second amendment.”
Without getting specific, McConaughey took shots at politicians who have failed to respond to mass shootings, while repeatedly asserting his belief in the second amendment throughout the briefing. “Let’s admit it. We can’t truly be leaders if we’re only living for re-election,” he said at one point.
“So where do we start?” McConaughey added in closing. “We start by making the right choices on the issue that is in front of us today. We start by making laws that save innocent lives and don’t infringe on our second amendment rights.”