Matthew McConaughey is calling for gun responsibility in a new op-ed and speech addressing the May 24 shooting that killed 19 children and two teachers in his hometown of Uvalde, TX. On June 7, McConaughey - who was introduced as a "gun owner" by White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre - appeared at the White House briefing room to deliver a speech about gun responsibility and safety, calling for bipartisan unity on common-sense gun reforms. He advocated for background checks, raising the minimum age to buy an AR-15, a waiting period, Red Flag Laws, and more.
"Responsible gun owners are fed up by the Second Amendment being abused and hijacked by some deranged individuals," he added, calling the regulations "a step forward for a civil society and the Second Amendment." He went on to clarify that while these steps are not cure-alls, gun responsibility is something most can find some common ground on.
"We can't truly be leaders if we are only living for reelection," he said, calling out politicians who refuse to enact gun reforms due to fears their election prospects will be compromised by the gun lobby if they do so.
The speech echoed sentiments McConaughey expressed in an op-ed entitled "It's Time to Act on Gun Responsibility," published on June 6 in USA Today's The New Austin Statesman, in which McConaughey also used his own story to advocate for "slowing down the senseless killing of our children."
"I am a father, the son of a kindergarten teacher, and an American. I was also born in Uvalde, Texas," he began in the piece. The actor went on to call for bipartisan action on guns. "Depraved acts of violence, with guns as the weapon of choice, are ripping apart families, tearing at people's faith, and shredding the fabric of our society," he wrote. "Saving the unnecessary loss of lives is not a partisan issue."
McConaughey's op-ed proposed that establishing regulations that ensure responsible gun use would protect and strengthen the Second Amendment. "There is a difference between control and responsibility," he wrote. "The first is a mandate that can infringe on our right; the second is a duty that will preserve it. There is no constitutional barrier to gun responsibility."
He also argued that while better mental health care and school safety measures are necessary, in the short term, "we need to focus on corrections and countermeasures that can also and immediately reduce the gun violence tragedies that have become too common in our country." McConaughey went on to advocate for requiring background checks for gun purchases, reminding readers that background checks are supported by 88 percent of Americans. He also argued that aside from members of the military, prospective buyers should be over 21 years old in order to purchase an assault rifle, and he advocated for Red Flag Laws, which would allow concerned loved ones and law enforcement to place temporary restrictions on individuals' ability to buy guns.
McConaughey's speech and op-ed come in the wake of a horrifying wave of mass shootings. Over the weekend of June 4, at least seven mass shootings occurred in the United States, killing 15 and injuring at least 60 people. In 2022, the US has seen at least 246 mass shootings, with the recent spike coming just weeks after a gunman killed 10 people in an act of domestic terrorism in Buffalo, NY, and the Uvalde shooting that rocked the nation.
The United States has a far higher rate of guns per citizens than other countries around the world, with one BBC survey finding that the US has 120.5 guns per 100 residents, while Yemen, which has the next most guns per residents, has 52.8 guns per 100 residents. The US also has far more relaxed gun laws than other developed nations, with loophole laws making it essentially possible for most people to buy guns without issue. The US also has by far the highest rate of gun-violence-related deaths per 100,000 people of any developed country, per The Trace. While other nations have established stricter gun laws following mass shootings, which led to reductions in gun violence, the United States has consistently failed to do so.
If you're looking for more information on how to get involved in the fight against gun violence, Everytown offers resources and roadmaps to join the fight. Newtown Action Alliance also offers resources and ways to get involved, and you can also donate to these six organizations working to end gun violence.