Uvalde native Matthew McConaughey tells Democrats and GOP to find a middle ground on guns

‘We can’t truly be leaders if we are only living for reelection’: Uvalde native Matthew McConaughey tells Democrats and GOP to find a middle ground on guns in tearful speech backing ‘responsible’ gun owners and paying tribute to kids killed in massacre

Matthew McConaughey, a native of Uvalde, Texas, gave an emotional plea for gun reform from the White House on TuesdayHe teared up at times talking about the children who were killed He called on lawmakers to act on bipartisan legislation‘We got to get some real courage and honor our mortal obligations instead of our party affiliations and enough with the counterpunching,’ he said‘We can’t truly be leaders if we’re only live in for reelection,’ he added‘We need to restore our family values. We need to restore our American values. And we need responsible gun ownership,’ he said Actor spent Monday and Tuesday on Capitol Hill lobbying lawmakersHe met with Speaker Nancy Pelosi He had dinner with Senators Joe Manchin, Amy Klobuchar and Rob PortmanHe met with Democratic Senator Dick Durbin and Republican Senators John Cornyn and Chuck GrassleyLawmakers working on bipartisan legislation that would reform background checks, encourage state red flag laws, look at school safety and mental healthThe actor called for changes in the way people can buy weapons across the USHe said the nation has a ‘cultural obligation’ to work towards stopping the killing

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Matthew McConaughey, a native of Uvalde, Texas, gave an emotional plea for gun reform from the White House on Tuesday, tearing up as he talked about the victims of the massacre in his hometown and called on lawmakers to think about their moral obligations instead of re-election.

‘We got to get some real courage and honor our mortal obligations instead of our party affiliations and enough with the counterpunching,’ he said. ‘We can’t truly be leaders if we’re only live in for reelection.’

He continued: ‘We’ve got to look in the mirror, lead with humility and acknowledge the values that are inherent to but also above politics. We got to make choices, make stands, embrace new ideas, and preserve the traditions that can create true, true progress for the next generation.’

He said lawmakers should show ‘real leadership’ to give Americans a ‘good reason to believe that the American dream is not an illusion.’

‘We need to restore our family values. We need to restore our American values. And we need responsible gun ownership,’ he said. 

He called on lawmakers to work together – a message that came as Democratic and Republican senators are working behind closed doors to come up with a bipartisan bill that can garner the 60 votes necessary to advance through the legislative process. 

‘This should be a non partisan issue,’ he said of gun reform legislation. ‘There is not a Cemocratic or Republican value in one single act of the shooters. There is not. But people in power have failed to act. We are asking you, I’m asking you, will you please ask yourselves, can both sides rise above? Can both sides see beyond the political problem at hand and admit that we have a life preservation problem on our hands?’ 

In emotional remarks, speaking in his heavy Texas twang from the podium of the briefing room with the White House logo behind him, McConaughey talked about the children who were killed in the shooting and his meetings with their families. 

‘My wife and I, Camila, we spent most of last week on the ground with the families in Uvalde, Texas. We shared stories, tears and memories, the common thread, independent of the anger and the confusion, sadness. It was the same. How can these families continue to honor these deaths by keeping the dreams of these children and teachers alive again, How can a loss of these lives matter,’ he said. 

The actor teared up when he talked about 10-year-old Alithea Ramirez, who was killed in the massacre. He said Alithea was an artist who dreamed of going to art school in Paris. He shared a drawing she had made that her parents gave him permission to show.

He talked about 10-year-old Maite Yuleana Rodriguez, who wanted to be a marine biologist. He pointed to his wife Camila, seated at the side of the briefing room, holding a pair of green Converse shoes with a heart drawn on the toe. 

He said Maite wore the shoes every day and ‘that turned out to be the only clear evidence that could identify her after the shooting.’

‘Maitie wore these every day. Green converse with a heart on the right toe. These are the same green converse on her feet that turned out to be the only clear evidence that could identify her at the shooting. How about that?,’ he said, getting emotional.

McConaughey, at times, paused to regain his composure or to wipe his eyes during his nearly 20 minutes of remarks. He also showed flashes of anger when he talked about children who died. He did not take questions from reporters afterward.

‘Every one of these parents wanted,’ he said, was ‘that they want their children’s dreams to live on.’

‘They want their children’s dream to continue to accomplish something after they are gone. They want to make their loss of life matter,’ he said.

Matthew McConaughey gave an emotional plea for gun reform at the White House

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre introduces actor Matthew McConaughey 

Matthew McConaughey shared stories of the children killed, including a drawing from 10-year-old Alithea Ramirez

The actor grew emotional as he talked about the victims of the massacre, pausing at times to regain his composure and wipe his eyes

Camila Alves McConaughey holds the green converse shoes of 10-year-old Maite Yuleana Rodriguez, who wanted to be a marine biologist and was killed in the mass shooting; she was identified by her shoes

Actor Matthew McConaughey showed flashes of anger when he talked about the victims of the Uvalde massacre

Matthew McConaughey talked about two young victims of the massacre: Maite Yuleana Rodríguez (left) and Alithia Ramirez (right)

He called for more mental health programs, background checks, raising the age to buy assault weapons to 21, and red flag laws.

‘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 abused them,’ he said.

He said ‘responsible gun owers’ are ready for this. 

‘Responsible gun owners are fed up with the Second Amendment being abused and hijacked by some deranged individuals. These regulations are not a step back. They’re step forward for civil society and and the Second Amendment,’ he said.

He also upheld a hopeful note, saying it seems there is a ‘path forward’ on reform.

‘It seems that something is different,’ McConaughey said. ‘There is a sense that perhaps there’s a viable path forward. 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.’

‘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,’ he said.

Jean-Pierre said McConaughey met with President Joe Biden before he came into the briefing. 

When asked why an actor was making a plea for gun reform instead of the president, Jean-Pierre pointed to Biden’s prime time address last week.

‘Matthew was here because, as you heard, he has a very personal connection,’ he said. ‘He was born there. He lives in Texas. and we thought hearing from him directly; him using his platform is incredibly important. We all know what it’s like or how important it is for folks, especially on whether you are an actor, whether you are in the business sector, wherever you are to use your platform how critical and important it is. And I think his words here today, we’re incredibly powerful and emotional,’ she said.

The White House described McConaughey as a ‘native of Uvalde, father, and gun owner.’ 

McConaughey spent Monday and Tuesday on Capitol Hill, meeting with lawmakers, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

‘Today, I had the privilege of welcoming @McConaughey to the US Capitol to discuss Congress’ efforts on gun violence prevention legislation. After the recent tragedy in his hometown of Uvalde, we agreed on the need for urgent action to save lives — especially for the children,’ Pelosi tweeted along with a pic of her speaking with the actor. 

McConaughey also had dinner with Senator Joe Manchin on Monday night as part of his lobbying efforts.

The actor was spotted walking the halls of the Capitol building on Monday and on Tuesday, where he had separate meetings with Republican Senators John Cornyn and Chuck Grassley on gun legislation.

In the aftermath of the shooting at the elementary school in Ulvade, where 21 people died, McConaughey called for ‘gun responsibility’ but not ‘control.’ He visited his home town to meet with the families of the victims.

And he spoke about gun reform to Democratic Senator Dick Durbin, who tweeted photos and details from his sit-down with the actor.

‘Had the chance to meet Uvalde native @McConaughey in DC today to discuss the horrific mass shooting at Robb Elementary as well as the larger problem of gun violence in America. We, like so many others, agree that gun safety reform is needed—I’ll keep working to make that happen,’ the senator from Illinois wrote.

McConaughey and his wife Camila were also spotted having dinner wth Manchin and his fellow Senators Amy Klobuchar, Democrat of Minnesota, and Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio, at the fancy Italian restaurant Fiola Mare.

Matthew McConaughey met with Speaker Nancy Pelosi to talk gun reform

Speaker Nancy Pelosi with Matthew and Camila McConaughey on the speaker’s balcony overlooking the National Mall 

Matthew McConaughey, a native of Uvalde, Texas, who has advocated for gun reform, was on Capitol Hill Monday and Tuesday to lobby lawmakers

Matthew McConaughey met with Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of lllinois (above, center left) to talk about gun reform legislation

Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa tweeted a photo of his meeting with actor Matthew McConaughey

The actor’s visit to the Capitol came as lawmakers are working on a bill that could garner the necessary 60 votes in the Senate to advance through the legislative process.

Sens. John Cornyn, Republican of Texas; Chris Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut;  and Kyrsten Sinema, Democrat of Arizona, met for about two hours Monday night to discuss a path forward.

Cornyn is leading efforts for Republicans and Murphy for the Democrats.  

‘My hope is that we are able to come to an agreement by the end of the week,’ Murphy said. ‘The discussions have been really positive. I still am hopeful we’ll be able to get a product.’

Any legislation would need buy-in from Manchin and Sinema, the more moderate Democrats, plus at least 10 Republicans in order to make its way through the legislative process. 

‘What I’m interested in is keeping guns out of the hands of those who, by current law, are not supposed to have them: people with mental health problems, people who have criminal records,’ Cornyn said of the talks.

The lawmakers are looking at legislation that would reform background checks, encourage state red flag laws, enhance school safety and provide new mental health programs, Politico reported.

President Biden met with Sen. Murphy at the White House on Tuesday for about 30 minutes to receive an update on the talks.

Matthew McConaughey also had dinner with Democratic Senator Joe Manchin on Monday night

President Joe Biden met with Democratic Senator Chris Murphy on Tuesday to discuss Senate negotiations on gun reform

The two men met on the patio outside the Oval Office to discuss the issue, according to photos released of their meeting. Their sit down comes after some lawmakers, including Murphy, urged the president to stay out of the talks.

Murphy said he and Biden spoke for about 30 minutes.

‘We had a good conversation, obviously we’ve still got work to do in the Senate and I’m grateful that the White House is giving us the space necessary to get a deal done,’ he said.

And he added: ‘Nobody knows the Senate better than President Biden, he knows that we’ve gotta work out our compromise on our own. It’s important to keep him posted on our discussions because ultimately we need the president to support it and sign the legislation.’ 

Senators are meeting behind-closed-doors this week to hash out the details of a bill that could garner the necessary 60 votes to advance through the legislative process.

Murphy, who is leading talks for the Democrats, said his goal was to have a bipartisan deal by the end of the week. He’s also said Biden’s presence would not be helpful in negotiations. 

‘I think the Senate needs to do this ourselves,’ the Democratic senator from Connecticut told CNN on Sunday.

‘I have talked to the White House every single day since these negotiations began. But, right now, the Senate needs to handle these negotiations. I think, this week, we need to have concepts to present to our colleagues,’ he said.

The sitdown also comes after Biden’s prime time speech on Thursday night where he called for expanded background checks, an assault weapons ban or raising the purchase age to 21, red flag laws, mental health programs, and removing the liability shield for gun manufactureres. 

There is some concern that if Biden becomes involve, the issue could get lost in the politics of the upcoming midterm election, harming the chances for legislation to get passed.

Meanwhile, McConaughey called for changes in the way people can buy weapons across the United States following the massacre in Uvalde last month.

He said the nation has a ‘cultural obligation’ to work towards ‘slowing down the senseless killing of our children’.

He suggested a national red flag system, background checks, raising the age someone can buy an assault rifle to 21 and a waiting time before buying them.

But the 52-year-old, who weighed up running for Texas governor last year, warned any changes cannot threaten the 2nd Amendment rights of citizens.

It comes after 19 children and two teachers were gunned down by 18-year-old Salvador Ramos at Robb Elementary School in McConaughey’s hometown.

It sparked renewed debate over whether gun laws should be tightened to stop youngsters getting their hands on certain weapons.

But since then there has been a spate of vicious shootings, including in Oklahoma, Tennessee and Pennsylvania over the weekend.

McConaughey speaking at a March For Our Lives rally in Dallas in 2018 after the mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida

Students escape through a window of Robb Elementary School after the mass shooting on May 24

McConaughey published this op-ed in the Austin American Statesman on Monday, arguing that ‘gun responsibility’ was the best way to protect the 2nd Amendment

‘I am a father, the son of a kindergarten teacher, and an American. I was also born in Uvalde, Texas,’ McConaughey begins in the piece published in Austin American Statesman on Monday, ‘That’s why I’m writing this.’

‘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.’

McConaughey states that debates about ‘gun control’ have led nowhere but ‘the status-quo,’ and argues that the debate should be shifted towards ‘gun responsibility.’

‘There is a difference between control and responsibility,’ he wrote, ‘The first is a mandate that can infringe on our right; the second is a duty that will preserve it. There is no constitutional barrier to gun responsibility.

McConaughey as a boy in Texas. He was born in Uvalde, Texas, where the mass shooting took place

McConaughey visiting the Robb Elementary School on May 27 in the days after the mass shooting

McConaughey visiting Uvalde, Texas, on May 27, days after the mass shooting. He has set up a relief fund to help victims of the shooting

‘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 argued that background checks should be required for all gun sales, that the buying age should be increased to 21 years-old, and that there should be a national red flag system that would allow loved-ones and law enforcement to petition courts to bar individuals from buying guns for a certain period.

 He also wrote that there should be a waiting period for purchasing assault rifles, arguing that those who commit atrocities with such weapons often buy them in ‘fits of rage.’  

‘Individuals often purchase weapons in a fit of rage, harming themselves or others. Studies show that mandatory waiting periods reduced homicides by 17 percent, he wrote, ‘A waiting period to purchase an assault rifle is an acceptable sacrifice for responsible gun owners when it can prevent a mass shooting crime of passion or suicide.’

McConaughey (second from right) holding hands with mourners during a visit to Robb Elementary School on June3

An officer outside the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. A memorial is spread across the sign to the school

Mourners paying respects and reflecting at memorial outside the Robb Elementary School on June 1

McConaughey, who was born in Uvalde, visited the school where the 18-year-old gunman, Salvador Ramos, murdered 19 children and two teachers with an assault rifle days after the May 24 shooting. 

At the beginning of June, McConaughey and his wife, Camila, launched a Uvalde Relief fund as a part of their Just Keep Livin Foundation. 

The op-ed about gun rights isn’t the actor’s first foray into politics, as last year he considered making a run for Texas governor before ultimately deciding against it.  

‘As a simple kid born in the little town of Uvalde, Texas, it never occurred to me that I would one day be considered for political leadership,’ McConaughey said last fall, ‘It’s a humbling and inspiring path to ponder. It is also a path that I am choosing not to take at this moment.’ 

A statement McConaughey released on Instagram, reflecting on the mass shooting that took place in his hometown

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