It shouldn’t take a celebrity to make us all sit up and pay attention, but Matthew McConaughey’s powerful White House speech on Tuesday did just that.
McConaughey, a native of Uvalde, was in Washington, DC to call on lawmakers to address gun control. During his speech in the White House briefing room, he also praised several of the victims who died in the shooting at Robb Elementary on May 24.
He shared that one of the victims, Maite Rodriguez, 10, dreamed of becoming a marine biologist when she grew up loving animals and the environment. She often wore a pair of high-top green Converse sneakers — her favorite color — with a heart she drew in marker on the tip of the right shoe.
McConaughey motioned for his wife, Camila Alves McConaughey, to hold Maite’s replica shoes during his speech.
“It was the same green Converse on his feet that turned out to be the only clear evidence that could identify him after the shooting,” he said.
He then slammed the podium in anger while getting emotional. McConaughey said the bodies of the 19 children and two teachers who were killed were “mauled” by exit wounds from the AR-15 rifle used to shoot them. It was reported that in many cases DNA testing was required to identify the victims as they were largely unrecognizable.
“A lot of kids were left not just dead but hollow,” McConaughey lamented.
It’s a terrifying reality, but one we must face nonetheless.
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The actor and his family returned to his hometown of Uvalde following the shooting to meet with the victims’ families, coroners and funeral directors. He said each of those grieving families told him they didn’t want their loved ones to die in vain and they didn’t want other families to go through what they are now going through again.
“The common thread — regardless of anger, confusion and sadness — was the same,” he said. “How can these families continue to honor these dead by keeping the dreams of these children and teachers alive? Again, how does the loss of these lives matter? »
He called out politicians on “both sides” for failing to take action on gun control. He called for universal background checks and raising the purchase age for assault rifles from 18 to 21 while implementing a national waiting period for assault rifles as well.
“Can both sides see past the ongoing political issue and admit that we have a life preservation issue on our hands?” he asked. “We need to soberly, humbly and honestly look at ourselves in the mirror and rename ourselves based on what we truly value.”
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He urged those in power to realize that “responsible gun owners are tired of the Second Amendment being abused and misused by deranged individuals.”
“These regulations are not a step backwards,” he said. “It’s a step forward for civil society.”
Maite Rodriguez was buried on May 31. Her loving obituary described her as a girl with a “caring heart” and an honor student who loved learning about animals and the ocean. Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, the college Maite dreamed of attending to become a marine biologist, is now offering a scholarship in her name.
“Maite was a sweet girl and those who knew and loved her were blessed with her kind, ambitious, friendly and gentle soul.”