WASHINGTON — Actor Matthew McConaughey joined Tuesday’s White House briefing to pay tribute to the victims of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas — and to urge Congress to act on firearms legislation. fire.
“Make the loss of these lives count,” McConaughey, from Uvalde, pleaded in moving remarks.
McConaughey said he and his wife, Camila Alves McConaughey, had spent most of the past week in Uvalde, spending time with the families of the 19 schoolchildren and two teachers who were murdered. He became emotional when talking about Maite Rodriguez, a 10-year-old girl who cared deeply about the environment and dreamed of becoming a marine biologist.
Camille Alves McConaughey held the girl’s green high-top Converse shoes, with a heart she had drawn on one of the shoes to represent “her love of nature,” McConaughey said.
“She wore these green Converses every day, with a heart on her right toe. They were the same green Converses that turned out to be the only clear evidence that could identify her in the shooting,” McConaughey said.
He also recounted meeting a cosmetologist who was “well versed in mortuary makeup.”
“It’s the job to make the victims appear as peaceful and natural as possible for their open-air viewings,” he said, but “these bodies were very different.”
“They needed much more than makeup to look presentable. They needed extensive restoration. Why? Due to the unusually large exit wounds of an AR-15 rifle, most bodies [were] so mutilated that only DNA tests, or green Converse, could identify them,” he said.
Two sources familiar with the matter said the shoes the McConaugheys had with them in the briefing room were replicas and the girl’s family had the shoes she was wearing at the time of the shooting.
McConaughey traveled to the Capitol to meet lawmakers and urge action on guns. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said McConaughey also “briefly met” with President Joe Biden “to talk about the importance of taking action to keep our communities safe.”
McConaughey said at the briefing that Uvalde was where he got his first shotgun and “where I was taught to revere the power and ability of the tool we call a gun,” adding “Uvalde is where I learned responsible gun ownership.”
But he said the filming of Uvalde shows changes are needed.
“We need responsible gun ownership,” McConaughey said. “We need background checks. We need to raise the minimum age to buy an AR-15 rifle to 21. We need a waiting period for these rifles. We need red flag laws and consequences for those who abuse them. These are reasonable, practical, tactical rules.”
He said “responsible gun owners are tired of the Second Amendment being abused and misused by deranged individuals.”
“These regulations are not a step backwards. This is a step forward for civil society.
McConaughey, who flirted with the Texas gubernatorial bid last year, said: “This shouldn’t be a partisan issue. There’s no Democratic or Republican value in a single act of these shooters. .”
“We must show courage and honor our moral obligations,” he said.
Kristen Welker contributed.