(The Hill) – Matthew McConaughey made an impassioned plea at the White House press briefing on Tuesday for “real change” on gun violence, sharing his experience on the ground following the recent school shooting in his Texas hometown of Uvalde.
Nineteen children and two teachers were killed by a gunman last month at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
McConaughey highlighted the lives of several children who were killed in the shooting, who he and his wife, Camila, met with in the days following the May attack.
“How can the loss of these lives matter?” McConaughey asked.
Camila Alves McConaughey sat with a pair of green Converse shoes on her lap belonging to one of the victims, Maite Rodriguez. The 10-year-old girl had hand-drawn a heart on the shoes because it “represented her love of nature.”
McConaughey said the distinct shoes were the “only clear evidence that could identify” Rodriguez following the shooting.
“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 said.
The father of three urged lawmakers to pass several measures, including requiring background checks on all gun purchases, raising the legal age to buy assault rifles from 18 to 21, instituting national waiting periods, and implementing a national red-flag system.
“Responsible gun owners are fed up with the Second Amendment being abused and hijacked by some deranged individuals,” the “Dallas Buyers Club” star said.
“As divided as our country is, this gun responsibility issue is one we agree on more than we don’t. It really is. But this should be a non-partisan issue,” said the 52-year-old performer, who last year publicly weighed a Texas gubernatorial run.
“There is not a democratic value in one single act of these shooters, but people in power have failed to act.”
Republicans and Democrats, McConaughey said, need to see “beyond the political problem at hand and admit that we have a life-preservation problem on our hands.”
Lawmakers can’t “truly be leaders” if they’re “only living for reelection,” he said.
“I promise you, America: You and me, we are not as divided as we are being told we are.”
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said McConaughey met earlier in the day with President Biden. Following his comments, he declined to answer questions from reporters.
McConaughey’s remarks at the White House came a day after the Academy Award winner touched down on Capitol Hill to discuss the same issue with lawmakers.
Sen. Dick Durban (D-Ill.) said in a Twitter post following a talk with McConaughey that he and the actor “agree that gun safety reform is needed.”
In a Monday opinion piece published in the Austin American-Statesman, McConaughey wrote that Americans have a “cultural obligation to take steps toward slowing down the senseless killing of our children.”