Matthew McConaughey, Uvalde Native, Delivers Emotional Speech

Matthew McConaughey punched a fist down in anger on the lectern of the White House Briefing Room on Tuesday, filling the crowded space with a jarring boom, as he described how authorities in Uvalde, Texas, needed to take DNA from a girl’s green sneakers to confirm her identify amid the carnage.

After a shooting at Uvalde’s school, 19 children were killed and two teachers were injured by the gunman. President Joe Biden invited McConaughey to the White House at a moment when Biden is trying to keep pressure on Congress to advance gun legislation in the wake of last month’s school shooting in Uvalde, which came ten days after the targeted killing of black people by a white supremacist at a supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y. Both mass shooters used high-capacity magazines and semi-automatic rifles.

McConaughey’s eyes welled up as he described receiving text messages from Uvalde the day of the shooting, and conversations he had with families of the victims when he visited the town where he grew up. McConaughey was repeatedly told by relatives of the victims that they wanted to see life-saving measures made. “Make the lives of those lost matter,” McConaughey pleaded.

As a child living in Uvalde, where his mom taught kindergarten, McConaughey said he learned the value of “responsible” gun ownership and to respect the power of weapons with such deadly power. It took him two years to master a Daisy BB gun, he said, before he “graduated” to a 410 shotgun.

Since the passage of significant gun legislation in Congress nearly 30 years ago, it has taken almost three decades. McConaughey called on Congress not to wait, saying that such legislation would encourage responsible gun ownership, and strengthen the Second Amendment. McConaughey called for a broader background check, an increase in the minimum age for purchasing AR-style semiautomatic rifles from 18 to 21 and for establishing a waiting period. He advocated for so-called “red flag” laws to prohibit people with mental or criminal histories from purchasing firearms.

“Responsible gun owners are fed up,” McConaughey said. “These regulations are not a step back; they are a step forward for a civil society and the Second Amendment.”

The Capitol has five Republicans, and five Democrats. They are discussing how to proceed with legislation to prevent mass shootings. The expectations have not been raised. Assault weapons bans aren’t on the agenda, even though Congress had done so for 10 years back in 1994. Instead, the lawmakers are discussing ways to increase funding for schools security and mental healthcare programs, as well how to get more red flag laws adopted by more states. Biden was briefed by Senator Chris Murphy from Connecticut on Tuesday.

McConaughey met also with Biden Tuesday to discuss gun reforms as well as what McConaughey heard about Uvalde families. Oscar-winning actor McConaughey walked the halls and visited the White House before meeting Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

McConaughey left his briefing area and a White House staff member stepped onto the podium in order to inspect the wooden lectern McConaughey made. There wasn’t a dent or a crack, the official said. “It was worth checking,” the staff member said.

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