WASHINGTON — Actor Matthew McConaughey, a native of Uvalde, Texas, took to the lectern in the White House briefing room Tuesday, speaking of learning, as a boy, “to revere the power and capacity” of a weapon. . He then recounted the horror he felt at losing 19 schoolchildren in his hometown to a man with a rifle so powerful it disfigured many of his bodies beyond recognition.
Fresh from a meeting with President Biden, Mr. McConaughey echoed the president’s call for expanded background checks on gun buyers, new “red flag” laws, and additional restrictions on purchasing AR-1 rifles. 15 like the one used to kill 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde last month. He presented himself as the voice of responsible gun owners and described, in graphic detail, the horrors of gun violence.
“The children were left not just dead, but empty,” McConaughey said, describing meeting with the parents of the children killed in Uvalde whose bodies had been “so mutilated that only DNA evidence” or green Converse sneakers could be used to identify them. . to them.
“Yes, counselors are going to be needed in Uvalde for a long time,” he said.
The shooting is one of the deadliest school attacks on record and one of more than 200 recorded mass shootings in the United States so far this year. Just 10 days before the Uvalde shooting, a gunman fatally shot 10 people at a Buffalo grocery store.
McConaughey’s appearance at the White House comes as a bipartisan group of senators tries to negotiate new legislation to respond to gun violence. Senators involved in the talks expressed quiet optimism that they could produce some kind of legislation that could clear the evenly divided chamber, though it will surely fall short of some measures, such as an assault weapons ban, that Biden has called for.
McConaughey, who also met with lawmakers on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, said he and his wife, Camilla, had gone to Uvalde the day after the shooting.
“You could feel the impact on the city,” he said. “You could feel the pain, the denial, the disappointment, the anger, the guilt, the sadness. Loss of lives, dreams that stop.”
She got a lump in her throat when she talked about meeting the parents of 10-year-old Alithia Ramirez, who dreamed of going to art school in Paris, and how Alithia’s dad, Ryan, recently landed a better-paying job. , promising that it would mean he would spoil her. taking her to Sea World.
Mr. McConaughey asked his wife to hold the green Converse high-top sneakers worn every day by 10-year-old Maite Rodriguez, who hoped to one day study to be a marine biologist, and who had drawn a heart on the toe of her right foot to symbolize his love for nature. “These are the same green Converse shoes on her feet,” McConaughey said, “that turned out to be the only clear evidence that could identify her after the shooting.”
He hit the lectern. “What about that?”
She also described meeting with a cosmetologist who had experience applying mortuary makeup for open casket visits. “These bodies were very different,” McConaughey said. “They needed much more than makeup to be presentable. They needed extensive restoration. Why? Due to exceptionally large exit wounds from an AR-15 rifle.”
After a few minutes, McConaughey turned to politics. He called on the media to scale back their sensational coverage of the mass shootings. He has repeatedly invoked the need for “responsible gun ownership,” including new regulations Democrats have pushed in response to shootings.
“We need to increase the minimum age to buy an AR-15 rifle to 21 years old,” he said. “We need a waiting period for those rifles. We need red flag laws and consequences for those who abuse them. These are reasonable, practical and tactical regulations.”
Mr. McConaughey, the star of such films as “Dazed and Confused” and “Dallas Buyers Club” and the television series “True Detective,” considered running for governor of Texas last year but ruled it out in November, calling the “one way” policy. which he chooses not to take at this time.”
emily cochrane Y annie karni contributed report.