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Matthew McConaughey Pushes for Gun Responsibility in Open Letter: “We Have an Epidemic of Mass Shootings”

In the wake of the tragedy in his hometown, Uvalde, Texas

Matthew McConaughey gun responsibility open letter control texas uvalde mass school shooting
Matthew McConaughey, photo via Instagram
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    For Matthew McConaughey, the recent mass shooting at a Texas elementary school hits especially close to home: The actor was born in Uvalde, the small town where nineteen students and two teachers were killed on May 24th. In a new op-ed published in the Austin American-StatesmanMcConaughey urged Texas lawmakers to prioritize gun responsibility, opining that “we have an epidemic of mass shootings.”

    “I believe that responsible, law-abiding Americans have a Second Amendment right, enshrined by our founders, to bear arms,” McConaughey wrote. “I also believe we have a cultural obligation to take steps toward slowing down the senseless killing of our children. The debate about gun control has delivered nothing but status quo. It’s time we talk about gun responsibility.”

    The actor went on: “There is a difference between control and responsibility. 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.”

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    Although McConaughey believes that “mental health care, school safety, the prevalence of sensationalized media coverage, and the decaying state of American values” have all contributed to the rise in gun violence, he emphasized that firstly, “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.”

    McConaughey went on to outline his suggestions for Texas lawmakers regarding gun safety, including background checks, raising the minimum age to purchase a gun to 21, and instituting a national waiting period for assault rifles. Lastly, he signed off the letter in extremely McConaughey fashion: “It’s time for real leaders to step up and do what’s right, so we can each and all just keep livin’.” Read the full letter below.

    Writing about politics is extremely on-brand for McConaughey, who at one point seriously considered running for Texas governor. However, 2022 won’t be his year, despite polls indicating the actor was eight points ahead of incumbent Greg Abbott.

    I am a father, the son of a kindergarten teacher, and an American. I was also born in Uvalde, Texas. That’s why I’m writing this.

    I believe that responsible, law-abiding Americans have a Second Amendment right, enshrined by our founders, to bear arms. I also believe we have a cultural obligation to take steps toward slowing down the senseless killing of our children. The debate about gun control has delivered nothing but status quo. It’s time we talk about gun responsibility.

    There is a difference between control and responsibility. 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.

    Depraved acts of violence, with guns as the weapon of choice, are ripping apart families, tearing at people’s faith, and shredding the fabric of our society. We have an epidemic of indiscriminate mass shootings, of parents burying their children, of inaction, and buck-passing. Saving the unnecessary loss of lives is not a partisan issue.

    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. 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.

    We need to make the lost lives matter. Our leaders must make bipartisan compromises on a few reasonable measures to restore responsible gun ownership in our country.

    I believe:

    1) All gun purchases should require a background check. Eighty-eight percent of Americans support this, including a lot of responsible gun owning Texans. … I’ve met them. Roof, who killed nine people in a black church in South Carolina in 2015, got his pistol without a completed background check due to a legal technicality. The system failed. Gun control activists call this a loophole. I call it incompetence.

    2) Unless you are in the military, you should be 21 years old to purchase an assault rifle. I’m not talking about 12-gauge shotguns or lever-action hunting rifles. I’m talking about the weapon of choice for mass murderers, AR-15s. 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.

    3) Red Flag Laws should be the law of the land. These measures, which are already in effect in 19 states and Washington, D.C., empower loved ones or law enforcement to petition courts to temporarily prevent individuals who may be a threat to themselves or others from purchasing or accessing firearms. These laws must respect due process, judicial review, and hold account individuals who may abuse such laws.

    4) We need to institute a national waiting period for assault rifles. Individuals often purchase weapons in a fit of rage, harming themselves or others. Studies show that mandatory waiting periods reduced homicides by 17 percent. Gun suicides account for the majority of U.S. gun deaths. A waiting period to purchase an assault rifle is an acceptable sacrifice for responsible gun owners when it can prevent a mass shooting crime of passion or suicide.

    Integrating gun safety training, safe storage proposals, and bolstering school safety are also beneficial, but are not government-only solutions. Companies, private organizations, and responsible gun owners have a big role to play. I want to be clear. I am not under the illusion that these policies will solve all of our problems, but if responsible solutions can stop some of these tragedies from striking another community without destroying the Second Amendment, they’re worth it.

    This is not a choice between guns or no guns. It’s the responsible choice. It’s the reasonable choice. It’s a quintessentially American choice: Where I have the right to be me, you have the freedom to be you, and we have the responsibility to be US. To find common ground on this issue, both sides are going to have to answer the call and reach for the higher ground of our collective responsibility.

    Business as usual isn’t working. “That’s just how it is” cannot be an excuse. The heinous bloodshed of innocent people cannot become bearable. If we continue to just stand by, we’re living a lie. With every right there comes a duty. For ourselves, our children, and our fellow Americans — we have a duty to be responsible gun owners. Please do yours and protect the Second Amendment through gun responsibility. It’s time for real leaders to step up and do what’s right, so we can each and all just keep livin’.

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