Video: President McConaughey makes the case for gun control compromise at the White House

A follow-up to Karen’s post earlier. This is stuntcasting by Team Biden, obviously, but shrewd stuntcasting. McConaughey is ultra-famous, one of Texas’s favorite sons, and an Uvalde native. Biden’s comms team has been straining for ways to punch through the media din and get voters to pay attention to their message and lately they’ve hit on a successful strategy: Celebrities.

The average joe doesn’t pay attention to daily political claptrap, especially when it’s coming from a figure as underwhelming and predictable as the president. But have an A-list actor revisiting the most gruesome and heartbreaking details of a mass shooting and some will perk up.

I wonder if the true target of having McConaughey speak today isn’t Congress but Greg Abbott. In an alternate universe, McConaughey is running for governor against him right now. He’s sufficiently well-liked at home that having him champion a cause like this in an emotional way after a catastrophe might affect some Texans. If McConaughey ends up as an advocate for red-flag laws at the state level, that’ll put pressure on Abbott.

As he was leaving, former Fox reporter turned Newsmax guy James Rosen shouted a question asking him if he was “grandstanding” by recounting how the children died:

Watch his full speech if you can spare the time. It wasn’t an indictment of Republicans or a call to ban guns, just a plea for compromise to ensure that fewer irresponsible people have access to them. Among the recommendations he made were universal background checks, a minimum age of 21 to buy an AR-15, and red-flag laws — literally none of which will pass at the federal level. But something is going to pass, it looks like:

Murphy, Cornyn, Sinema and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) are focused on a package that would reform background checks, encourage state red flag laws, enhance school safety and provide new mental health programs, according to multiple people familiar with the talks…

Nine years after Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) struck an agreement to expand background checks that most Republicans rejected on the Senate floor, the current bipartisan group is focused on significant yet more modest reforms that can win 60 votes in the chamber. One proposal under discussion is changing background checks for people younger than 21 — by opening up their juvenile records to more scrutiny or enacting a waiting period for their firearm purchases — according to one person with direct knowledge of the talks…

One Republican senator, speaking candidly on condition of anonymity, said it may take several discussions over multiple days among GOP conference members to figure out which proposal can actually win over a significant chunk of them. Urgency to act often subsides on Capitol Hill as memories fade over recent shootings, and it’s been nearly two weeks since the Uvalde shooting.

One would think that background checks for under-21s would be an easy compromise in lieu of raising the minimum age to buy an AR-15, especially after all the attention paid to the fact that the Uvalde and Buffalo shooters were each just 18. But Marco Rubio has already dismissed the idea, per Politico. Steve Daines did too, asserting that “I don’t think it’s going to make this any safer” without explaining why. John Thune said he’d prefer to leave it up to the states and is clearly not super comfortable when discussing this subject:

Considering how devastating a gunshot from an AR-15 is to the human body, hunting prairie dogs with one must be like hunting deer with an RPG. Is there anything left of the animal after it’s hit or does the thrill lie in seeing it vaporized on impact?

I think McConaughey’s operating in good faith, agree or disagree with him. So here’s a good-faith question in return via Richard Rushfield: Will he commit to trying to reduce the glorification of guns in Hollywood movies? It’s silly to pretend that doesn’t affect Americans’ desire to own them, Rushfield writes. After all, there may be no institution in all of American culture with as much influence as the movies.

Smoking was the national pastime, a symbol of cool on-screen and off, and the power of Big Tobacco was untouchable when Hollywood first made an attempt to remove cigarettes from the film and TV in the ’80s. Thirty some years later, the percent of Americans who smoke has fallen by two-thirds, with a mere 8 percent of youth smoking cigarettes today compared to 36 percent in 1995…

Here’s a crazy notion: how about just for say five years as a trial period, we say we’re not going to make any films in which the protagonists brandish firearms. How about we try that and see what happens?

It’s not even necessarily that hard. Marvel is pretty much there from the start. A movie like Jurassic World… it wouldn’t be that hard to clear the bar.

I mean, we’ve got a lot of creative minds around here. If we put our heads together and focused really hard, there have to be some ways to entertain the masses besides people shooting each other with guns. If you want to make action films… how about karate fights? Aliens with laser vision? Marauding dinosaurs? Sword fights? Motorcycle races? Hitting each other with big sticks if it comes to that.

If we could de-glamorize cigarettes, we can de-glamorize firearms. Maybe? We can try.

As you mull that thought, I’ll leave you with a teacher at Robb Elementary who was shot twice by the Uvalde gunman and had to lay there immobilized listening to that animal obliterate one 10-year-old after another.