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Matthew McConaughey Slams ‘Vicious’ Gun Debate Post-Uvalde: ‘Politicians Don’t Really Want Solutions’

"I felt that I was walking a fine line between homage and exploitation, and I didn’t want to cross it," McConaughey said of sharing Uvalde victims' stories in D.C.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 12: Matthew McConaughey attends the premiere of Illumination's "Sing 2" on December 12, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)

Matthew McConaughey

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Academy Award winner Matthew McConaughey reflected on the aftermath of the Uvalde shooting in May 2022 and his subsequent White House address.

McConaughey wrote an opinion piece for Esquire detailing his emotional connection to the massacre in the town he grew up in until he was 10 years old.

“I’m sickened by the spate of mass shootings in America — especially those at schools, which are supposed to be some of the safest of spaces for our children and the closest extensions of our own homes. But this time felt different, more personal,” McConaughey wrote of returning home to Uvalde, Texas. “Now, for the first time, my innocent childhood memories of Uvalde felt naive — more like dreams than memories, slightly hazy and suddenly overly sacred. Times like these make us all feel a bit more foolish. We hug our kids a little longer, knowing their innocence won’t last as long as ours did, hoping their children won’t know the same.”

McConaughey and his wife Camila Alves spoke with families of the 19 children killed at their elementary school and connected with Republican congressman Tony Gonzales, who represents Uvalde. The McConaughey family visited the Hillcrest Memorial Funeral Home, met with mental health counselors and first responders, and attended a City Hall roundtable.

“Observing from the front lines, then sharing what I saw — it makes me feel a bit like a fraud. Am I trespassing?” McConaughey wrote. “Sharing sacred secrets that are not my stories to tell? I hope not.”

McConaughey also traveled to Washington, D.C., to share the accounts he learned in Uvalde.

“I’m not a politician. I do not speak their language. Yet the push and pull between gun-rights supporters on one side and gun-control supporters on the other is vicious, uniquely American, and, yes, very political,” McConaughey said. “What I did have at that moment were the raw, firsthand accounts of the Uvalde families we’d spent time with. I recalled one constant from those conversations, a wish each and every parent expressed to us: ‘I just want my child’s death to matter.’ Each time, the emphasis had been on the last word: ‘Make their lives matter.'”

McConaughey’s presence and speech at the White House also kept gun control in the news: “A tragedy like Uvalde can fall from the front page overnight,” he said. “Attention turns elsewhere; the public moves on. Whatever I could do, I’d need to do it now.”

The “True Detective” alum had “no concrete plan other than to knock on Senator Mitch McConnell’s door” when he went to D.C.

“I proposed a new semantic framing of the issue: Instead of gun control, as it had been labeled, I maintained that the real matter in question was one of gun responsibility,” McConaughey said. “I needed to let D. C. and the general public know where I stood.”

He summed up his purpose in the nation’s capital as being a “conduit for sharing stories from the front lines in Uvalde.”

Across four days and multiple meetings in D.C., McConaughey was told that he was “serving as a broker,” but he was “skeptical” that any progress behind closed doors would make a real difference.

When addressing the nation in the White House press briefing room, McConaughey admitted, “I felt that I was walking a fine line between homage and exploitation, and I didn’t want to cross it.”

Following the aftermath of the Uvalde massacre, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act was passed.

“Does the bill solve everything? Hell no. No law will heal Uvalde, or any community that suffered a similar tragedy. Does it move us in the right direction? Yes,” McConaughey wrote. “When we spoke to the families in the wake of the bill’s passage, they expressed gratitude. It won’t bring their kids back, but it does make them feel like, to some extent, their government finally listened.”

McConaughey continued, “Did our efforts make an impact? I’ve been told they did. Part of me hopes that’s true. But another part of me is frustrated that we could have an impact. We didn’t show up on the Hill with a new invention or a groundbreaking argument. We just helped frame the discussion in reasonable ways so that all sides could digest it. We tried to responsibly share the stories of Alithia, Maite, Ellie, Irma, Jose, and the other victims in Uvalde.”

McConaughey was forced to confront a truth about American politics: “It sometimes feels like politicians don’t really want solutions, because solutions would put them out of a job.”

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