Academy Award-winning actor Matthew McConaughey made a passionate plea for gun control legislation from the White House briefing room on Tuesday.
Following last month’s shooting rampage at an elementary school in his hometown of Uvalde, Texas he called on Congress to “reach a higher ground” and pass gun control legislation.
In a highly personal 22-minute speech, during which he pounded the White House lectern with his fist, McConaughey exhorted a gridlocked Congress to pass gun reforms that can save lives without infringing on Second Amendment rights.
McConaughey, a gun owner himself, used his star power to make an argument for legislation. He offered a clear connection to the small Texas town, and he vividly detailed the sheer loss of the nineteen children and two teachers in the second-worst mass school shooting in U.S. history.
He specifically called on Congress to bolster background checks for gun purchases and raise the minimum age to purchase an AR-15-style rifle to twenty-one from eighteen.
“We want secure and safe schools and we want gun laws that won’t make it so easy for the bad guys to get the damn guns,” McConaughey said.
“Uvalde is where I was taught to revere the power and the capability of the tool that we call a gun,” he said.
McConaughey makes the case for gun control
McConaughey said he and his wife drove back to Uvalde on the day after the shooting and spent time with the families of some of the victims and others directly affected by the rampage.
He said every parent he spoke to expressed that “they want their children’s dreams to live on.”
“They want to make their loss of life matter,” McConaughey said.
He related the personal stories of a number of the victims.
He told the story of Maite Rodriguez, an aspiring marine biologist. McConaughey’s wife, Camila, sitting nearby, held Maite’s green Converse sneakers, which had a red heart on the right toe to represent her love of nature.
“These are the same green Converse, on her feet, that turned out to be the only clear evidence that could identify her after the shooting,” McConaughey said.
He held up artwork from Alithia Ramirez, who dreamed of attending art school in Paris. And then there was Eliahna ‘Ellie’ Garcia, who loved dancing and church and already knew how to drive tractors. Ellie was looking forward to reading a Bible verse at an upcoming church service when she was killed.
McConaughey acknowledged that gun legislation would not end mass shootings but suggested that steps can be taken to lessen the chances of such tragedies happening so frequently.