Two weeks ago, Matthew McConaughey published a lengthy statement on social media following the mass shooting in his hometown of Uvalde, Texas that left 19 children and two teachers dead. In a state of frustration, the actor spoke of tragedy and community values without delving deeper into the conversation of gun control legislation and second amendment rights — in fact, he didn’t mention guns at all. Now, in an open letter penned for the Austin American-Statesman, McConaughey is calling for greater gun responsibility (not control) saying: “We need to make the lost lives matter.”
“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. Keeping firearms out of the hands of dangerous people is not only the responsible thing to do, it is the best way to protect the Second Amendment. We can do both.”
McConaughey says he believes the ongoing debate surrounding gun control has yielded “nothing but status quo,” and needs to be shifted to focus on responsibility, instead. A father of three, he writes that “we have a cultural obligation to take steps toward slowing down the senseless killing of our children” after clarifying his assertion that “responsible, law-abiding Americans have a Second Amendment right, enshrined by our founders, to bear arms.”
In a four-point list, the actor puts forward his belief that all gun purchases should require a background check, citing Dylan Roof who killed nine black churchgoers in South Carolina after obtaining a pistol without a background check in 2015. “Gun control activists call this a loophole,” McConaughey wrote. “I call it incompetence.”
He also pushes for a strict age requirement for the purchase of assault rifles, writing: “The killer in my hometown of Uvalde purchased two AR-15s for his eighteenth birthday, just days before he killed 19 students and two teachers. He obeyed the law. Had the law been different, perhaps I wouldn’t be writing this today.”
The Robb Elementary shooter was identified as Salvador Ramos, an 18-year-old man who lived in Uvalde and died at the scene after opening fire on a classroom full of children.
McConaughey’s final two points explore Reg Flag Laws and national waiting periods for assault rifles, both of which rely on a greater evaluation of mental health as a means of gun violence prevention.
“The need for mental health care, school safety, the prevalence of sensationalized media coverage, and the decaying state of American values are all long-term societal factors that must be addressed, but right now, we don’t have the luxury of time,” he writes. “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.”
The actor clarifies that the proposed bipartisan policies are not a perfect solution, but adds: “If responsible solutions can stop some of these tragedies from striking another community without destroying the Second Amendment, they’re worth it.”