Matthew McConaughey fought back tears as he spoke to reporters at the White House on Tuesday about meeting the families of the victims of the Robb Elementary School shootings in Uvalde, TX, his hometown.
The actor’s appearance in the White House briefing room, after he and his wife Camilla met with President Joe Biden, was in many ways extraordinary, as he spoke movingly in tribute to the victims and their lives cut short, sharing deeply personal stories of their lives. Nineteen students and two teachers were killed when a gunman opened fire on their classroom.
“We got a chance for, right now, to reach for and grasp a higher ground, above our political affiliations,” McConaughey said. “A chance to make a choice that does more than protect your party. A chance to make a choice that protects our country now and for the next generation.”
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His message was that there was a way forward on legislation that still protects the Second Amendment, seeing the set of solutions as embraced by the widespread majority of the public. He called the set of proposals “a step forward for a civil society and the Second Amendment.”
“I promise you, America, you and me, we are not as divided as we are being told we are,” he said in his 20-minute remarks.
McConaughey also has been meeting with lawmakers on Capitol Hill, including Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Oscar-winning actor wrote an op-ed in the Austin American-Statesman that called for background checks for all gun purchases, a 21-and-over age requirement for buying assault rifles, a waiting period for purchase and for nationwide “red flag” laws.
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“The need for mental health care, school safety, the prevalence of sensationalized media coverage, and the decaying state of American values are all long-term societal factors that must be addressed, but right now, we don’t have the luxury of time,” McConaughey wrote. “We need to focus on corrections and countermeasures that can also and immediately reduce the gun violence tragedies that have become too common in our country.”
A bipartisan group of senators is working on a package of proposals, while the House is planning to vote on a series of gun reform measures this week. But there is still considerable doubt as to whether any significant gun measures will pass, given the 60-vote threshold needed to advance legislation in the Senate. That is what doomed legislation back in 2013, in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.
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McConaughey is the latest celebrity to visit the White House, as the administration draws on high-profile figures to pierce through the partisan media noise. Last week, BTS visited with Biden and appeared in a White House video, the subject of which was stemming Asian-American hate crimes, and the spot generated more than 6.4 million views. Selena Gomez visited the White House last month to talk about mental health.
The actor considered an independent bid for governor of Texas last year, but ultimately decided against it.
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