“Real Change Can Happen”
On June 8th, after meeting with the President, at the podium of the White House press briefing room Actor Matthew McConaughey delivered an emotional and compelling speech urging lawmakers to take action on gun violence. He told the stories of several of the young victims of the mass shooting in his hometown of Uvalde, Texas (population: 15, 217). The mass shooting on May 24, carried out by a lone 18-year-old gunman, left 19 children and 2 teachers dead.
McConaughey, a life-long gun owner, had returned to his hometown to meet with many of the families. Afterwards he and his wife Camilla announced the launch of a relief fund through their foundation (just keep livin) for the Uvalde community.
Below are excerpts from his speech. You can read the hole transcript or see a video.
My wife (Camila) and I…spent most of last week on the ground with the families in Uvalde, Texas, and we shared stories, tears, and memories. The common thread, independent of the anger and the confusion and sadness, it was the same: 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?
So, while we honor and acknowledge the victims, we need to recognize that this time it seems that something is different. 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….
I’m here today in the hopes of applying what energy, reason, and passion that I have into trying to turn this moment into a reality. Because, as I said, this moment is different. We are in a window of opportunity right now that we have not been in before, a window where it seems like real change — real change can happen.
…. you know what every one of these parents wanted, what they asked us for? 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….. (W)e heard from so many people…. families of the deceased—mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers. Texas Rangers, hunters, Border Patrol, and responsible gun owners who won’t give up their Second Amendment right to bear arms. And you know what they all said? “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.”
So, we know what’s on the table. We need to invest in mental healthcare. We need safer schools. We need to restrain sensationalized media coverage. We need to restore our family values. We need to restore our American values. And we need responsible gun ownership—responsible gun ownership. We need background checks. We need to raise the minimum age to purchase an AR-15 rifle to 21. We need a waiting period for those rifles. We need red-flag laws and consequences for those who abuse them. These are reasonable, practical, tactical regulations to our nation, states, communities, schools, and homes.
Responsible gun owners are fed up with the Second Amendment being abused and hijacked by some deranged individuals. These regulations are not a step back; they’re a step forward for a civil society and — and the Second Amendment. Look, is this a cure-all? Hell no! But people are hurting — families are, parents are. (A)s divided as our country is, this gun responsibility issue is one that we agree on more than we don’t. It really is. But this should be a nonpartisan issue. This should not be a partisan issue. There is not a Democratic or Republican value in one single act of these shooters. It’s not.
But people in power have failed to act. So, we’re asking you and I’m asking you, will you please ask yourselves: 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? Because 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.
We’ve got to take a sober, humble, and honest look in the mirror and… rebrand ourselves based on what we truly value. What we truly value. We got to get some real courage and honor our immortal obligations instead of our party affiliations. 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, the place where most of us Americans live anyway, especially on this issue. Because I promise you, America — you and me, who — we are not as divided as we’re being told we are. No.
How about we get inspired? Give ourselves just cause to revere our future again. Maybe set an example for our children, give us reason to tell them, “Hey, listen and watch these men and women. These are great American leaders right here. Hope you grow up to be like them.” And let’s admit it: We can’t truly be leaders if we’re only living for reelection. Let’s be knowledgeable and wise, and act on what we truly believe.
Again, we’ve got to look in the mirror, lead with humility, and acknowledge the values that are inherent to, but also above, politics. We’ve got to make choices, make stands, embrace new ideas, and preserve the traditions that can create true—true progress for the next generation. With real leadership…. let’s start giving all of us good reason to believe that the American Dream is not an illusion. So where do we start? We start by making the right choices on the issue that is in front of us today. We start by making laws that save innocent lives and don’t infringe on our Second Amendment rights. We start right now by voting to pass policies that can keep us from having as many Columbines, Sandy Hooks, Parklands, Las Vegases, Buffaloes, and Uvaldes from here on….
We start by making the loss of these lives matter. Thank you. Thank you.