WASHINGTON – Actor Matthew McConaughey, who was born in Uvalde, Texas, took to the podium at the White House briefing room Tuesday and told the stories of children and teachers who died in the school shooting while pleading to “the people in power” to change gun laws.
McConaughey, who owns guns and described learning to shoot as a child, advocated for universal background checks, a 21-year-old age limit for purchases, and a waiting period during sales, as well as red flag laws and more investment in mental health.
“These regulations are not a step back,” he said. “They're a step forward for a civil society and the Second Amendment.”
Members of Congress are currently in talks about new gun control laws, but historically Republicans have blocked debate on the topic.
“This should not be a partisan issue,” McConaughey said to reporters. “There's not a Democratic or Republican value in one single act of these shooters. But people in power have failed to act. So we're asking you, and I'm asking you. Will you please ask yourselves: Can both sides rise above? Can both sides see beyond the political problem at hand and admit that we have a life preservation problem on our hands?”
McConaughey began his speech with personal accounts of some of the children who died in Uvalde and detailed the horrors seen by funeral directors and morticians who worked on the victims' bodies. He directed everyone's attention to a pair of green Converse propped on the lap of his wife, Camila Alves McConaughey, who was seated nearby. The shoes were worn every day by one young victim, and after the brutal gunshot wounds she sustained, they were the evidence that authorities used to identify her body.
“Many children were left not only dead, but hollow,” he said, describing the effects of an AR-15 bullet wound on a fourth-grader.
In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, McConaughey had released a lengthy statement on his social media accounts, calling for action.
"Once again, we have tragically proven that we are failing to be responsible for the rights our freedoms grant us," he said.
In the earlier statement, he didn't specify what actions he considered necessary, but he called on Americans to work across political lines.
"This is an epidemic we can control, and whichever side of the aisle we may stand on, we all know we can do better," he wrote. "We must do better."