Actor Matthew McConaughey spoke at a White House press conference on Tuesday where he addressed the recent shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas and shared his support for some of President Joe Biden’s latest gun control proposals.
Introducing McConaughey at the Tuesday press briefing, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the actor is a gun owner and “he is here today to use his platform to call on leaders to take bipartisan action to end this senseless killing and pass reasonable gun responsibility measures that we know will save lives.”
Jean-Pierre said Biden met with McConaughey before the press briefing to talk about gun control measures.
McConaughey called for action “To make the loss of these lives matter.” The actor said he and his wife Camila Alves, spent much of the last week meeting with the families affected by the shooting at Robb Elementary School, where 19 children and two adults were killed after a gunman barricaded himself in a classroom for over an hour before a Border Patrol agent intervened and fatally shot the suspect. Authorities are actively investigating the shooting and the lengthy law enforcement response to the attack.
“The common thread — independent of the anger, confusion and sadness — was the same,” McConaughey said of his meetings with those affected by the shooting. “How can these families continue to honor these deaths by keeping the dreams of these children alive and teachers alive. Again, how can the loss of these lives matter.”
“While we honor and acknowledge the victims, we need to recognize that this time it seems that something is different,” McConaughey continued. “There’s a sense that perhaps there’s a viable path forward, that 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 said he and Alves traveled to Washington to meet elected officials “to speak to them, to speak with them and to encourage them to speak with each other.”
“I’m here today in the hopes of applying what energy, reason and passion that I have into trying to turn this moment into a reality,” he said. “Because as I said, this moment is different. We are in a window of opportunity right now that we have not been in before. A window where it seems like real change, real change can happen.”
Throughout his speech, McConaughey noted he is a native of Uvalde, Texas and it is where he learned, growing up, to handle various guns, from a BB gun to a .410 shotgun.
In an op-ed for the Austin-American Statesman on Monday, McConaughey argued that lawmakers can pass new gun laws without infringing on the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
“There is a difference between control and responsibility. The first is a mandate that can infringe on our right; the second is a duty that will preserve it,” McConaughey wrote. “There is no constitutional barrier to gun responsibility. Keeping firearms out of the hands of dangerous people is not only the responsible thing to do, it is the best way to protect the Second Amendment. We can do both.”
McConaughey then wrote in support of requiring a background check for any person to obtain a firearm, so-called “red flag” laws that allow a court to temporarily restrict a person deemed to pose a mental-health risk from purchasing or accessing firearms. McConaughey also advocated for raising the age to purchase guns like the popular semi-automatic rifles like the AR-15 to 21 years of age and imposing an additional waiting period on such purchases.
“Unless you are in the military, you should be 21 years old to purchase an assault rifle. I’m not talking about 12-gauge shotguns or lever-action hunting rifles. I’m talking about the weapon of choice for mass murderers, AR-15s,” McConaughey wrote.
The proposal to raise the age to purchase an AR-15 style weapon in McConaughey’s op-ed is similar to a proposal Biden made in a speech last week. Biden called for an outright ban on AR-15 and weapons capable of accepting magazines that can accept so-called “high-capacity magazines.” If an outright ban would not pass, Biden proposed simply raising the purchasing age of such firearms, stating, “If we can’t ban assault weapons, then we should raise the age to purchase them from 18 to 21.”
During his White House remarks on Tuesday, McConaughey said he spoke with Texas Rangers, hunters, border patrol “and responsible gun owners who won’t give up their Second Amendment right to bear arms.”
“And you know what they all said? 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. “So, we know it’s on the table.”
“We need to invest in mental health care, 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,” McConaughey said. “And we need responsible gun ownership.”
McConaughey then reiterated his calls for raising purchase ages for AR-15s and similar weapons, instituting waiting periods and “Red Flag” laws “and consequences for those who abuse them.”
McConaughey spoke for about 20 minutes and concluded without taking any questions from the assembled press.