In an emotional speech at the White House on Tuesday, actor Matthew McConaughey called for new gun regulations in the wake of last month’s mass shooting in his hometown of Uvalde, Texas, and urged federal lawmakers to honor their moral obligations instead of party affiliations.
Through misty eyes, McConaughey recalled his recent travel to Uvalde, where he and his wife met with victims’ families, local law enforcement and morticians who were tasked with preparing some of the bodies of the 19 school-aged children who were shot to death on May 24.
He also recounted his younger years in Uvalde, where he said he learned what it means to be a responsible gun owner and to revere the Second Amendment.
“We heard from so many people: Families of the deceased, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, Texas Rangers, hunters, border patrol and responsible gun owners who won’t give up their Second Amendment rights,” he said. “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 specifically called on U.S. lawmakers to pass legislation to raise the minimum age gun owners can purchase an assault rifle to 21 from 18, bulk up background checks and institute red flag provisions.
His White-House appearance came a day after the actor, known for films like “The Wedding Planner” and his Oscar-winning role in “Dallas Buyers Club,” wrote an op-ed in the The Austin American-Statesman titled “It’s Time to Act on Gun Responsibility.”
In that op-ed, he pressed Congress to appreciate the difference between gun “control” and “responsibility” in the wake of a gruesome mass shooting in May that left 19 children and two teachers dead in Uvalde, Texas, where McConaughey was born.
“I believe that responsible, law-abiding Americans have a Second Amendment right, enshrined by our founders, to bear arms. I also believe we have a cultural obligation to take steps toward slowing down the senseless killing of our children,” he wrote.
“There is no constitutional barrier to gun responsibility,” McConaughey continued. “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.”
The Biden administration has called on Congress to pass gun control measures in the wake of two high-profile mass shootings last month: The elementary school killings in Uvalde and a separate, racist attack at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York that left 10 slain.
The president met with Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut leading bipartisan gun-control talks, earlier Tuesday to discuss the latest debate on Capitol Hill.
Murphy, perhaps the chamber’s biggest advocate for tighter gun laws, is working with Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn on efforts to improve school security, strengthen background checks and introduce red flag laws that allow families to petition courts to seize guns from a person suspected of posing a public health threat.
This report was originally published on CNBC