Matthew McConaughey pleads for US gun control at the White House: ‘People are hurting’ – National

Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey appeared at the White House on Tuesday to urge Congress to “reach a higher ground” and pass gun control legislation in honor of the children and teachers killed. in last month’s shooting at an elementary school in his hometown of Uvalde, Texas.

In a highly personal 22-minute speech, McConaughey exhorted the deadlocked Congress to pass gun reforms that could save lives without violating Second Amendment rights.

McConaughey himself, a gun owner, used his star power to make arguments for legislation in a way that the Biden administration couldn’t, giving a clear connection to the small town. of Texas and vividly details the absolute loss of 19 children and two teachers in the second-worst mass shooting in US history.

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He specifically called on Congress to strengthen background checks for gun purchases and raise the minimum age for purchasing an AR-15-style rifle from 18 to 21.

“We want schools that are safe and secure, and we want gun laws that don’t make it easy for bad guys to get damn guns,” McConaughey said.

McConaughey, who earlier this year considered running for governor of Texas before passing, met briefly with President Joe Biden in private before addressing the White House press delegation from the James Brady briefing room.

McConaughey also met with key lawmakers this week, including the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee that handles gun laws, Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois and Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa.

Click to play video: 'More deadly shootings across America as gun control debate continues'

More deadly shootings across America as gun control debate continues

More deadly shootings across America as gun control debate continues

He is scheduled to meet later this afternoon with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

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Meanwhile, the son of Ruth Whitfield, an 86-year-old woman, was killed when a gunman opened fire during a racist attack on Black shoppers in Buffalo, New York, last month. , called on Congress to act against the “cancer of white supremacy” and the nation’s epidemic of gun violence.

“What are you personally willing to do to stop the cancer of white supremacy and the domestic terrorism it causes?” Garnell Whitfield Jr. asked members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

McConaughey, who declined to answer questions, spoke of his own connection to the town. He said his mother teaches kindergarten less than a mile from Uvalde’s Robb Elementary School, the site of the May 24 shooting. He also notes that Uvalde is where he was taught about the responsibilities that come with owning a gun.

“Uvalde is where I was taught to respect the power and capabilities of the tool we call a gun. Uvalde is where I learned responsible gun ownership,” he said.

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McConaughey said he and his wife drove back to Uvalde the day after the shooting and spent time with the families of some of the victims and others directly affected by the rampage.

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He says every parent he talks to has expressed that “they want their child’s dream to live on.”

“They want to make their lives disappear,” McConaughey said.

He recounts the personal stories of some of the victims.

He picked up the artworks of Alithia Ramirez, who had dreamed of going to art school in Paris. He tells the story of Maite Rodriguez, an aspiring marine biologist. McConaughey’s wife, Camila, sat nearby for his keynote, holding Maite’s regular pair of green Converse sneakers, a pair of which she painted a red heart on her right toe to represent showing her love for nature.

“Here’s the green Converse on her feet that turned out to be the only definitive evidence that could identify her after the shooting,” McConaughey said, pounding the podium as he tried to contain his emotions.

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And then there’s Eliahna “Ellie” Garcia, 10, who loves dancing and church and already knows how to drive a tractor. Ellie was looking forward to reading a Bible verse at an upcoming church service when she was killed.

McConaughey acknowledged that gun legislation would not end mass shootings but suggested that steps could be taken to reduce the risk of such tragedies happening on a regular basis.

“We need to invest in mental health care. We need safer schools. We need to limit sensationalism in the media. We need to restore our family values. We need to restore our American values ​​and we need responsible gun ownership,” McConaughey said.

“Is this a cure-all? No, but people are getting hurt. “

Associated Press writers Lisa Mascaro and Farnoush Amiri contributed to this report.

© 2022 Canadian Press

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