(WASHINGTON) — After meeting with President Joe Biden, Academy Award-winning actor Matthew McConaughey, a native of Uvalde, Texas, made a passionate plea for gun reform at Tuesday’s White House press briefing, as Congress considers new legislation this week.
McConaughey, noting he was a gun owner, gave moving details of his meetings with grieving families last week in his hometown.
“The common thread — independent of the anger and the confusion and sadness — it was the same. How can these families continue to honor these deaths by keeping the dreams of these children and teachers alive? How can we make the loss of these lives matter?” he began.”While we honor and acknowledge the victims, we need to recognize that this time, seems that something is different.”
“Can both sides see beyond the political problem at hand and admit that we have a life preservation problem on our hands?” he continued. “We’re got to take a sober, humble, and honest look in the mirror and rebrand ourselves based on what we truly value.”
His wife, Camila Alves, sitting nearby, brought bright green Converse sneakers from one of the victims in the massacre at Robb Elementary school, Maite Rodriguez, who McConaughey said she wore because of her love of nature and how she wanted to be a marine biologist. He spoke of how the small shoes — with a heart on the right toe — were the “only clear evidence that could identify her.”
Matthew McConaughey says how parents in Uvalde told he and his wife, Camilla, how “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.” https://t.co/9GWVMpm4Qg pic.twitter.com/6lLZ96rSwD
— ABC News (@ABC) June 7, 2022
“These bodies were very different,” he said of the 19 children and two teachers killed. “They needed extensive restoration. Why? Due to the exceptionally large exit wounds of an AR-15 rifle. Most of the bodies were so mutilated that only DNA tests or green Converse could identify them.”
“Many children were left not only dead — but hollow,” he added.
McConaughey said the purpose of their trip to Washington was to meet with lawmakers and “remind and inspire them that the American people will continue to drive forward the mission of keeping our children safe — because it’s more than our right to do so, it’s our responsibility to do so.”
He met with scores of lawmakers on Capitol Hill Monday and Tuesday as he pushes for reform — including universal background checks, raising the minimum age to buy an AR-15-style weapon from 18 to 21, and instituting a waiting period to buy assault weapons — measures beyond what would appear in any Senate compromise.
“These are reasonable practical tactical regulations to our nation, states, community, schools, and homes. Responsible gun owners are fed up with the Second Amendment being abused and hijacked by some deranged individuals,” he added at the White House. “These regulations are not a step back. They’re a step forward for a civil society and — and the Second Amendment.”
McConaughey also spoke at length about growing up in Uvalde, where he said he “learned responsible gun ownership.”
“It’s where my mom taught kindergarten — less than a mile from Robb Elementary. Uvalde is where I learned to master a Daisy BB gun… took two years before I graduated to a 410 shotgun,” he added. “Uvalde is where I was taught to revere the power and the capability of the tool that we call a gun.”
The Hollywood actor returned to Capitol Hill Tuesday for the second day in a row to meet with lawmakers as a spate of mass shootings across the country have sparked cries for change.
“Let’s admit it, we can’t truly be leaders if we’re only living to reelection,” he added at the White House briefing.
ABC News’ Lalee Ibssa asked McConaughey as he was leaving a meeting with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy if he’s hopeful his talks will lead to change, after McConaughey had also met earlier Tuesday with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“I’m endlessly hopeful,” he replied.
Emerging from another meeting with Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the lead Republican negotiator on the gun reform talks in the Senate, McConaughey, when asked by ABC News’ Trish Turner what his message was for his home state senator, only said, “That’s gonna be between me and him right now.”
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who was hearing from the son of the oldest victim in the mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, at a Senate hearing on domestic terrorism Tuesday, tweeted a photo of his office meeting with McConaughey.
“We, like so many others, agree that gun safety reform is needed — I’ll keep working to make that happen,” Durbin wrote Monday evening.
McConaughey visited his hometown of Uvalde just days after the mass shooting, after first posting his reaction on social media, calling for action.
Uvalde, Texas, USA. pic.twitter.com/0iULRGtREm
— Matthew McConaughey (@McConaughey) May 25, 2022
“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 on May 25, one day after the massacre. “Action must be taken so that no parent has to experience what the parents in Uvalde and the others before have endured.”
McConaughey also penned an op-ed in the Austin-American Statesman last month with the headline, “It’s time to act on gun responsibility.”
He wrote in support of universal background checks, raising the age to buy assault rifles from 18 to 21, implementing more red flags laws and instituting a national waiting period for assault rifles.
Last year, McConaughey was flirting with a run for governor of Texas before announcing in November that “political leadership” was a “path that I’m choosing not to take at this moment.”
ABC News’ Lalee Ibssa and Carson Blackwelder contributed to this report.
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