In the wake of the mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, Academy Award-winning actor Matthew McConaughey made an appearance at the White House press briefing Tuesday after visiting Capitol Hill and also meeting briefly in private with President Joe Biden.
In an impassioned 22-minute speech, McConaughey, a gun owner himself, called upon a gridlocked Congress to pass gun reforms that can save lives without infringing on Second Amendment rights.
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A native of Uvalde, McConaughey, 52, addressed reporters by calling for “gun responsibility” and speaking of the children whose funerals he attended, including nine-year-old Ellie Garcia, who was memorizing a Bible verse before her death.
Ellie loved to dance, and she loved church. She had been going to a Baptist church with her uncle for the last couple of years, the Texas actor explained.
“Her mom and dad were proud of her because, they said, ‘She was learning to love God, no matter where.’ The week prior to her passing, she had been preparing to read a verse from the Bible for the next Wednesday night’s church service. The verse was from Deuteronomy 6:5. “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy might,” McConaughey said.
“That’s who Ellie was becoming,” he continued. “But she never got to read it. Service is on a Wednesday night,” he noted.
‘A Viable Path Forward’
The actor also said he believes that this time “there is a sense of a viable path forward. Responsible parties in this debate seem to at least be committed to sitting down and having a real conversation about a new and improved path forward — a path that can bring us closer together and make us safer as a country, a path that can actually get something done this time.”
McConaughey also told the assembled media representatives and a national television audience that there are several ways to address the ongoing problem.
“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,” the actor said.
“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,” McConaughey continued.
The Texas native’s remarks came as a bipartisan group of senators is working toward an agreement on gun legislation.
Among the proposals being discussed by lawmakers include changing criminal background checks to include juvenile records, giving states incentives to enact “red flag laws” to remove guns from people who may be deemed dangerous, and funding for school security and mental health.
On May 25, the day of the Uvalde shooting in which 19 children and two teachers died in the second deadliest school shooting in U.S. history, McConaughey tweeted, “The true call to action now is for every American to take a longer and deeper look in the mirror, and ask ourselves, ‘What is it that we truly value?'”
“This is an epidemic we can control, and whichever side of the aisle we may stand on, we all know we can do better. We must do better. Action must be taken so that no parent has to experience what the parents in Uvalde and the others before them have endured,” he wrote.
“And to those who dropped off their loved ones today not knowing it was goodbye, no words can comprehend or heal your loss, but if prayers can provide comfort, we will keep them coming.”
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