After McConaughey, a Ulvade native, launched into an impassioned speech lamenting the Robb Elementary school shooting that killed 19 students and two teachers in his hometown, he offered up similar gun control measures IJoe Biden had advocated for days prior.
“We need responsible gun ownership,” McConaughey said. “We need background checks. We need to raise the minimum age to purchase an AR-15 rifle to 21. We need a waiting period for those rifles. We need red flag laws, and consequences for those who abuse them. These are reasonable practical tactical regulations.”
Unbeknownst to McConaughey, firearm retailers are already required to conduct background checks when guns are purchased in their stores.
“Responsible gun owners are fed up,” McConaughey claimed. “These regulations are not a step back; they are a step forward for a civil society and the Second Amendment.”
Imposing gun control measures “should not be a partisan issue,” he added.
“Let’s ban the assault weapons for civilians. This is a no-brainer,” he had said. “And to my friends out there that are responsible owners of these recreational assault weapons that they use for recreation, please let’s just take one for the team here and set it down. That issue saves lives.”
EMOTIONAL MATTHEW McCONAUGHEY TALKS GUN VIOLENCE AT WHITE HOUSE
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Movie star Matthew McConaughey went from the big screen to the bully pulpit Tuesday to make an impassioned plea for compromise on new gun control measures from the White House briefing room podium.
Declaring that responsible gun owners like himself are “fed up with the Second Amendment being abused and hijacked by deranged individuals,” the Oscar-winning actor delivered emotional remarks that included personal tales of heartbreak about last month’s mass school shooting in his hometown of Uvalde, Texas.
While the 52-year-old insisted he wasn’t anti-guns and that “Uvalde is where I learned responsible gun ownership,” he said new gun laws were needed.
“We need to restore our American values and we need responsible gun ownership,” he said defiantly during his 20-minute speech, after which he left without taking questions from the assembled press corps members.
“We need background checks, we need to raise the minimum age to purchase an AR-15 rifle to 21, we need a waiting period for those rifles, we need red flag laws and consequences for those who abuse them.”
He added, “These regulations are not a step back, they’re a step forward for a civil society and the second amendment.
“Is this a cure all? Hell no. But people are hurting, families are, parents are.”
Joined by wife Camila Alves, the “Magic Mike” actor — who had earlier met with President Biden — also emotionally described the lives of some of the victims, including 19 children, who were murdered at Robb Elementary School on May 24.
He said he met with many of the families of victims after the massacre — recalling that one young victim, 9-year-old Maite Rodriguez, had to be identified by her green Converse shoes.
McConaughey asked his wife to hold up the shoes, which displayed a heart that Maite had hand drawn on the rubber toe cover.
“These same green Converse on her feet turned out to be the only clear evidence that could identify her after the shooting,” the actor said as his voice cracked.
Maite wanted to be a marine biologist and cared for the environment so much that her mom declined the city of Uvalde’s offer to release balloons as a tribute after her death, McConaughey said.
“Her mom said ‘Oh no, Maite wouldn’t want to litter’,” he recounted.
The A-list actor also flashed a self-portrait that one of the victims – 10-year-old Alithia Ramirez – had drawn.
He told of how the little girl’s parents, Ryan and Jessica, said she dreamed of going to art school in Paris and to “one day share her art with the world.”
Ellie Garcia, 10, loved her Baptist church – and, at the time she was killed, had been preparing to read a Bible verse at a service the day after the massacre, McConaughey said.
“She never got to read it,” he said.
McConaughey went on to slam those in power who “failed to act,” insisting gun control should be a non-partisan issue.
“Let’s admit it, we can’t truly be leaders if we’re living for re-election,” he said.
“With real leadership … let’s start giving all of us good reason to believe that the American dream is not an illusion.”
He then rattled off a list of “right choices” that could be made on the controversial gun control issue.
“We start making laws that save innocent lives and don’t infringe on our second amendment rights,” he said.
“We start, right now, by voting on policies that keep us from having as many Columbines, Sandy Hooks, Parklands, Las Vegas, Buffalos and Uvaldes from here on.
“We start by making the loss of these lives matter,” he added of the Uvalde victims.
McConaughey decided last year against running for Texas governor as a centrist after flirting with the possibility. The state’s filing deadline for independent candidates in that race is June 23.
In an appearance with Fox News’ Bret Baier on Tuesday night, McConaughey said he sees a path towards bipartisan gun reform after his visit to Uvalde that left him “a different man now.”
“The consensus word that I’m hearing … is that this time is different,” the actor, who’s been speaking with lawmakers on Capitol Hill, said.
“That there is some more momentum. That on the right there’s some things that they’re willing to not staunchly say ‘no’ to and consider. That on the left they’re willing to say ‘we want the whole loaf but we’ll take a slice of bread.’
“I’m told that this is a novel thing happening, that this is a novel and special time happening right now where actually something may change instead of talking about it and nothing changes for 30 years.”
He said he’s spoken to people on both sides of the aisle, including “so many” Texas gun owners who’ve said they would support some of his proposed reforms like a “Pause after Purchase” waiting period to curb violent crimes of passion.
The biggest hurdle in passing these gun laws, he said, is the public perception that they are drastically politically divided, which he believes is a misconception purported by the media for entertainment.
“I think we’re being told we’re more divided than we are. Quit drinking the kool-aid because we’re hearing it from both sides — the extreme right and the extreme left, and they have the microphones,” he said.
“And I believe we have the numbers, the masses have the numbers that we gotta take the mic back. Kick them off democracy’s boat and say ‘no, no, no — you’re not steering this boat.’ I’m much more aggressively centrist like that. The people I talk to on both sides are much more reasonable about things than we’re being told they are.”
The actor also visited the US Capitol on Monday, but his handlers shielded him from reporter questions.
His White House cameo came after Biden met with Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) to discuss the status of bipartisan gun control talks Tuesday morning.
Biden has called for a ban on AR-15-style weapons, but it’s possible there could be enough support for narrower restrictions, such as an increased age limit for semi-automatic guns.
The “Dazed and Confused” star is not the first celebrity to visit the briefing room under Biden and his refusal to take questions after an extended monologue irked some journalists.
“Were you grandstanding just now, sir?” a male journalist shouted as McConaughey left the briefing room.
After his departure, ABC reporter Karen Travers asked White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre to “commit that going forward, if there is a guest or a celebrity here, that you would ensure that they would stay at the podium and take questions from reporters after they speak.”
“They are a guest, that is not for me to ensure,” Jean-Pierre replied. “They are a guest of ours. It is up to them if they want to take questions or not. We respect them and what they want to do. Matthew was here and when he was done, he said thank you and he walked away. That really is up to him.”
South Korean boy band BTS took to the podium last week and also met Biden to discuss anti-Asian hate crimes. Their visit coincided with debate in their homeland about whether the pop stars should be exempted from the military draft because of their work as cultural ambassadors.
And Olivia Rodrigo made a White House briefing room visit last July, supposedly to promote COVID-19 vaccination.
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