(NewsNation) — Actor and Uvalde, Texas, native Matthew McConaughey made an emotional plea for gun reform at a White House press briefing two weeks after tragedy rocked his hometown when a shooter gunned down 21 people at an elementary school last month.
McConaughey and his wife, Camila, visited Uvalde after the attack and spent time with the grieving community. In his address Tuesday, he said all the people he spoke to — families of the victims, law enforcement and “responsible gun owners” — all wanted the same thing.
“You know what they all said?” McConaughey asked. “‘We want secure and safe schools, and we want gun laws that won’t make it so easy for the bad guys to get these damn guns.'”
McConaughey urged Congress to pass gun legislation, including background checks, red flag laws and raising the minimum age to purchase an AR-15 rifle.
“This should not be a partisan issue. There is not a Democratic or Republican value in one single act of these shooters,” McConaughey said. “People in power have failed to act.”
During his remarks, the emotional actor took time to remember the victims of the shooting.
He showed pictures drawn by Alithia Ramirez, a Robb Elementary student who wanted to go to art school in Paris, and described how another student, Maite Rodriguez, dreamt of becoming a marine biologist. Another little girl, Eliahna Garcia, loved to dance and go to church, he said.
In a powerful moment, McConaughey slammed his hand on the White House podium as he described how officials were only able to identify Maite after the shooting by the shoes she was wearing.
“Every parent separately expressed in their own way, to Camilla and me, that they want their children’s dreams to live on,” McConaughey said. “That they want their children’s dreams to continue, to accomplish something after they are gone. They want to make their loss of life matter.”
Mental health care, safer schools, less sensationalized media coverage and the restoration of “family values” and “American values” are all needed, he said, adding that it still isn’t enough.
“Is this a cure-all? Hell no, but people are hurting,” he said.
“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?” McConaughey asked. “We got a chance right now to reach for and to grasp a higher ground above our political affiliations, 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.”