Matthew McConaughey calls for increased gun regulations following Uvalde school shooting

Actor and Austinite Matthew McConaughey took the podium in Washington DC to make an emotional plea for increased gun regulations after 19 kids and two teachers were killed in his hometown of Uvalde.

"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," said McConaughey.

McConaughey says Uvalde was the town he was born in and the town he learned responsible gun ownership. He called on lawmakers to rise above party affiliation and create policies for the sake of these lives lost at Robb Elementary.

"We know what's on the table. We need to invest in mental health care. What do you say for 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 A-R-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 civil society and, *and* the Second Amendment," said McConaughey.

McConaughey recounted how he, his wife, and kids spent time in Uvalde with a few families to share stories, tears, and memories of the victims killed.

One was the family of 10-year-old Alithia Ramirez. He says Alithia wanted to share her art with the world and go to art school in Paris. Her father told McConaughey he promised to spoil his daughter and take her to SeaWorld one day.

"He didn't get to spoil his daughter, and, Alithia, she did not get to go to SeaWorld," said McConaughey.

He told the story of Maite Rodriguez. McConaughey’s wife sitting close by holding Maite's favorite green converse she wore all the time with a hand drawn heart on the toe signifying her love for nature and drive to become a marine biologist. McConaughey says those shoes were the only evidence her family could use to identify her after the shooting.

He also spoke about Ellie Garcia who was looking forward to reading a bible verse at an upcoming church service.

"The week prior to her passing, she'd been preparing to read a verse from the Bible for the next Wednesday night's church service. The verse was from Deuteronomy 6:5, ‘and Thou shalt love the Lord that God with all my heart, with all my soul and with all that I might.’ That's who Ellie was becoming, but she never got to read in church on Wednesday night," he said.

He says these regulations would not be a step back, but a step forward for the Second Amendment. A change that would in no way be a ‘cure all’, but progress.

"We start by giving Alithia here a chance to be spoiled by her dad. We start by giving Maite a chance to become a marine biologist. We start by giving Ellie a chance to read her Bible verse at the Wednesday night service. We start by giving Irma and Joe a chance to finish painting their house. We start by giving Makenna, Layla, Maranda, Nevaeh, Jose, Xavier, Tess, Rojelio, Eliahna, Annabell, Jackie, Uziyah, Jayce, Jailah, Eva, Amerie, and Lexi. We start by giving all of them our promise that their dreams are not going to be forgotten," said McConaughey.

The House Judiciary Committee advanced a package of six bills last week called the Protecting Our Kids Act aimed at reforming gun laws nationwide. 

Republicans say that would disarm law-abiding Americans. Texas State Senator John Cornyn, the leader for the GOP when it comes to gun reform negotiations in Washington, said on the Senate floor Monday that he's working with Democrats to find common ground to improve mental health intervention, school security and background check systems without restricting Second Amendment rights.