Matthew McConaughey Makes an Urgent Appeal for Gun Control From the White House

Matthew McConaughey at the White House

The actor insisted that America agrees more on gun control than it disagrees.

Matthew McConaughey, Oscar-winning actor and Uvalde native, delivered a carefully pitched, emotionally charged speech on the state of America’s gun laws at the White House yesterday.  

During his address, which followed a private meeting with President Biden, McConaughey emphasized again and again that the issues at hand were above politics, and went to the heart of America’s values. Taking care to avoid any explicit affiliation with one party, he stressed that it was absolutely possible both to protect Second Amendment rights, and enact progressive laws to protect the country “now and for the next generation.”

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McConaughey described how he and his family had driven down to Robb Elementary the morning after the mass shooting at the school on May 24 to speak with the families devastated by the attack. He emphasized how important it was to every bereft parent he spoke to that their child is remembered. He shared stories and mementos from the children — from the custom converse one girl, Maite, wore to school that day, to a picture another, Alithia, had drawn of herself watched over by a friend in heaven. He described how difficult it was to identify the children’s tiny bodies, due to the savage nature of the weapon used to murder them.

“Due to the exceptionally large exit wounds of an AR-15 rifle, most of the bodies so mutilated that only DNA test or green converse could identify them,” McConaughey said. “Many children were left not only dead but hollow. So, yes, counselors are going to be needed in Uvalde for a long time.”

Camila Alves McConaughey holds the shoes of Maite Yuleana Rodriguez, a student who was killed in the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School, as actor Matthew McConaughey speaks at the White House. (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

He continued: “You know what every one of these parents wanted, what they asked us for? What every parent separately expressed in their own way to Camila and me? That they want their children’s dreams to live on. That they want their children’s dreams to continue, to accomplish something after they are gone. They want to make their loss of life matter.” 

After describing how he learned to handle weapons as a child, McConaughey stressed the importance of responsible gun ownership — positioning himself carefully as a voice both for those who wish to protect existing rights, and those who never want to see a tragedy like Uvalde repeated. He insisted that America agrees more on gun legislation than it disagrees, adding forcefully:

“We need to invest in mental healthcare. 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 — responsible gun ownership. We need background checks. 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 nation, states, communities, schools and homes. Responsible gun owners are fed up with the Second Amendment being abused and hijacked by some deranged individuals. These regulations are not a step back — they’re a step forward for a civil society and, and the Second Amendment.”

McConaughey appealed to politicians across the spectrum, and argued that it is possible, if lawmakers “lead with humility,” to acknowledge values that are “above politics.”

“We can’t truly be leaders if we’re only living for reelection,” he said, saying it was time to honor “immortal obligations” over “party affiliations.”

“We’ve got to make choices, make stands, embrace new ideas, and preserve the traditions that can create true — true progress for the next generation.”

McConaughey’s remarks come as Democratic and Republican lawmakers attempt to reach a compromise on a new package of gun laws — efforts which appeared to be slowing on Tuesday, though both sides remain optimistic that a deal will be agreed upon.