“To make the loss of these lives matter,” Matthew McConaughey said as he began an impassioned 20-minute speech about gun reform during Tuesday’s White House press briefing. After spending several days in his hometown of Uvalde, Texas, following the shooting at Robb Elementary School, McConaughey shared the “stories, tears, and memories” that he and his wife, Camila Alves, witnessed.
“The common thread, independent of the anger and the confusion and the sadness, was the same: How can these families continue to honor these deaths by keeping the dreams of these children and teachers alive?” McConaughey said as he reflected on his trip, which included a meeting with Republican representative Tony Gonzales of Texas’s 23rd Congressional District.
“So while we honor and acknowledge the victims, we need to recognize that this time it seems that something is different,” said the actor, who was introduced as “a father, a native of Uvalde, Texas, and a gun owner” by White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. “There is a sense that perhaps there is 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—a path that can bring us closer together and make us safer as a country. A path that can actually get something done this time.”
McConaughey’s D.C. visit, which featured a brief meeting with President Joe Biden, comes a day after his op-ed on “gun responsibility” was published in the Austin American-Statesman. “Can both sides see beyond the political problem at hand and admit that we have a life-preservation problem on our hands?” he said at the press briefing. “We’ve got to take a sober, humble, and honest look in the mirror and rebrand ourselves based on what we truly value.”
McConaughey showed pieces of artwork from and photos of some of the students and teachers killed at Robb Elementary, which McConaughey said is less than a mile from where his mother was a school teacher. Alves sat nearby McConaughey’s podium, holding a pair of bright green Converse sneakers that belonged to 10-year-old Maite Rodriguez, one of the massacre’s victims. McConaughey spoke about Maite’s dream of becoming a marine biologist and her passion for nature. He became emotional when recounting that these very shoes, which were branded with a heart over the right toe, were the “only clear evidence that could identify her.”