Matthew McConaughey was born and raised in Uvalde, Texas. And, like so many parents of young children (including me) who lost many hours of sleep over the unspeakable act that took place at Robb Elementary School on May 24, McConaughey is fed up with the same points of Tired discussion recycled after every school shooting that leaves children dead and parents and teachers scarred for life.
McConaughey visited the White House last week to deliver a speech in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room (aptly named after President Reagan’s press secretary who was shot by an assassin potential) to journalists and the country as a whole . And it’s hard to remember anyone in Washington hitting as many high notes with such a unifying tone as the 52-year-old actor did.
McConaughey made his remarks not as a Hollywood activist or supporter of the current president, but as a father of three who owned guns for most of his life.
Unlike most of our leftist leaders, who vilify gun owners and the NRA after every school shooting, McConaughey took a different approach.
“These are reasonable, practical and tactical rules for our nation, our states, our communities, our schools and our homes,” he said. “Responsible gun owners are tired of the Second Amendment being abused and misused by deranged individuals. These regulations aren’t a step backward – they’re a step forward for a civil society and, and the Second Amendment.
“Enough with the backlashes. Enough of the invalidation on the other side. Let’s come to the common table that represents the American people. Find a middle ground, the place where most of us Americans live anyway. Especially on this issue. Because I promise you, America, you and I, we are not as divided as we are told,” he added.
McConaughey rightly acknowledged that not all of the proposals he put forward are 100% foolproof or would eradicate the crisis. They won’t.
But many of our executives and those who are paid to give partisan opinions on cable news are only interested in telling you what’s wrong with a proposal instead of how they’re going to fix it themselves with details that exist in the real world. The trick to finding a compromise is to find the areas that both parties agree on and go from there. But it’s an election year, so don’t expect much to happen on that front.
In a world where the United States spends billions of dollars a year, we should be spending billions to fortify our schools, one of many proposals McConaughey listed on Tuesday. If that means hiring two trained officers and limiting the number of entry points into each school to two while staggering the start and end of the school day by grade, then so be it in the name of safety.
We should, as the actor noted, raise the minimum age to own an AR-15 and similar weapons from 18 to 21, given that data shows that nearly all school shooters in the last decade had under 21, including the Uvalde shooter, who bought two AR-15s on or after his 18th birthday. The only exception to this rule would be if a person is fully trained in the military before age 21. Appropriate training in this kind of setting? No problem. According to Gallup, more than two-thirds of Americans support raising the age at which people can buy certain firearms to 21.
Increasing background checks is another proposal that Americans overwhelmingly support. According to a public policy poll survey, 83% of gun owners support expanded background checks on sales of all firearms, including 72% of all National Rifle Association members.
Overall, per Gallup, 92% of Americans support background checks for gun owners.
“How can the loss of these lives matter?” McConaughey reflected on Tuesday. “We have to recognize that this time it looks like something is different.”
“We are currently in a window of opportunity that we weren’t in before. A window where it looks like real change, real change, can happen,” he added.
We heard the same after Sandy Hook. Nothing was done after 28 people were killed in this tragedy, starting with the shooter’s mother and ending with 20 children and six teachers.
Matthew McConaughey is a refreshing voice of reason in a nutshell where, as he said, the extremes on both sides have the microphone.
“We need to pull back that veil, stop drinking Kool-Aid, because we hear it from both sides, far right and far left, and they have the microphones. The masses have the numbers, we need to take the mic back. Expel- them from the boat of democracy and say, “No, you’re not steering that boat.”
The masses have the numbers. Make your voice heard. Enough is enough. We owe our children so much better than that.
To his credit, again, McConaughey understands how suspicious the two sides are of each other over the gun issue. So instead of just making his remarks at the White House, he also took to Fox News to speak with “Special Report” anchor Bret Baier, where he touched on things on a personal level with the anchor in chief.
“Are you a father? he asked Baier, to which the host replied, “Yeah. I have two boys.
McConaughey concluded, “Me too. Now I bet you and I can do something about being fathers, caring about our children and their future. I bet we can come to an agreement on that.
Joe Concha is a media and political columnist.