Actor Matthew McConaughey gave an emotional speech remembering the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting victims and calling for change at the White House on Tuesday.
Prior to joining the press briefing with White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, McConaughey met with lawmakers in Washington, D.C. regarding efforts to pass gun control legislation. He began his speech at the podium with an emotional tribute to the 19 children and two adults killed in May after a gunman opened fire inside an elementary school.
“You could feel the shock in the town. You could feel the pain, the denial, the disillusion, anger, blame, sadness, loss of lives, dreams halted,” McConaughey said Tuesday, recounting his visit to his home town of Uvalde.
McConaughey fought back tears throughout his speech, a large portion of which was about the victims of the mass shooting. He detailed how one young girl killed in the massacre hoped to be a marine biologist. Another, he said, holding up a drawing made by that victim, had dreams about attending art school.
“You know what every one of these parents wanted, what they asked us for?” McConaughey said during his speech. “What every parent separately expressed in their own way to Camila and me? That they want their children’s dreams to live on. 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.”
The world-famous actor at one point banged his fist on the podium in frustration. In another part of his speech, he detailed how the bodies of the victims needed “extensive restoration” and that one little girl was able to be identified because she was wearing green converse sneakers with a hand-drawn heart on the right toe. (RELATED: 8 Examples Of People Being Incredible In The Face Of The Texas Massacre)
“Enough with the counterpunching. Enough of the invalidation of the other side. Let’s come to the common table that represents the American people. Find a middle ground, a place where most of us Americans live anyway, especially on this issue, cuz I promise you, America – we are not as divided as we are being told we are,” McConaughey said.
Ultimately, McConaughey focused on some gun control measures while also pushing for initiatives like investing in mental health care. In particular, he argued that the country needs background checks, red flag laws, a waiting period to purchase rifles and a higher age limit for purchasing AR-15s.
“We need to invest in mental health care,” McConaughey said. “We need safer schools. We need to restrain sensationalized media coverage. We need to restore our family values. And we need responsible gun ownership.”
“We got to get some real courage and honor our immortal obligations instead of our party affiliations,” he also declared.