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‘Can both sides rise above?’ Uvalde native Matthew McConaughey tears up in White House speech pleading for bipartisan action on guns

June 7, 2022, 9:24 PM UTC

“Uvalde, Texas, is where I was born,” Matthew McConaughey said at the White House on Tuesday as he pleaded for action on guns and shared stories from the families he visited in Uvalde, where the Robb Elementary mass shooting occurred in May.

On Tuesday, the Oscar-winning actor gave an emotional speech, saying, “We got to get some real courage and honor our moral obligations instead of our party affiliations, and enough with the counterpunching.” He added, “We got to make choices, make stands, embrace new ideas, and preserve the traditions that can create true progress for the next generation.” 

McConaughey recommended increasing the number of background checks, mental health programs, and red flag laws, and raising the minimum age to buy assault weapons to 21. “These regulations are not a step back,” he said. “They’re a step forward for civil society and the Second Amendment.”

The actor spent the last two days meeting with lawmakers, including Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Joe Manchin and Republicans John Cornyn and Chuck Grassley, to discuss gun prevention legislation.

Grassley took to Twitter to share that he met with both McConaughey and his wife Camila Alves to discuss gun responsibility, school safety, and a potential bipartisan bill that would reform red flag laws, background checks, and mental health programs, and emphasize school safety.

He also asked lawmakers to work together and help restore family values and American values.

McConaughey, who visited Uvalde with Alves after the shooting, also spoke about the children that were killed in the disaster in an especially emotional moment: “How can these families continue to honor these deaths by keeping the dreams of these children and teachers alive again? How can the loss of these lives matter?”

The actor teared up as he shared the story of Alithea Ramirez, a 10-year-old who dreamed of going to art school in Paris but sadly lost her life in the massacre. Alithea’s parents gave McConaughey one of Alithea’s drawings so he could share it and honor their daughter’s wish to share her art with the world.

He then shared the story of Maite Yuleana Rodriguez, who aspired to be a marine biologist and also lost her life in the mass shooting. He read a note from Rodriguez where the 10-year-old shared that she wanted to go to school in Corpus Christi and study marine animals.

“As divided as our country is,” McConaughey said, “this gun responsibility issue is one that we agree on more than we don’t. This should not be a partisan issue.”

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