Mr. McConaughey goes to Washington with a message on "gun responsibility"

Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File

Uvalde’s favorite native son, Matthew McConaughey, and his wife Camila met with lawmakers on Capitol Hill on Monday. His message straddles the fine line between common sense and gun-grabbing rhetoric. He calls his suggestions “gun responsibility”, not gun control.


McConaughey didn’t take questions from reporters or hold a press conference. Senator Dick Durbin tweeted about his meeting with McConaughey. Of those I’ve read that he met with, so far Senator Rob Portman is the only Republican name mentioned. “Playbook noted that the actor and his wife were spotted dining Monday night at Fiola Mare with Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio).”

The Austin American-Statesman published an op-ed by McConaughey Monday in which he lists his beliefs.

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.


All of his suggestions are ones we always hear after mass shooting events. I don’t know that re-labeling them with a softer description will change any minds on either side. He is clearly straddling the line between sticking up for Second Amendment rights and bowing for calls for more federal red tape. For example, he calls for purchasers of “assault rifles” to be age 21 or older. Under federal law, Americans buying handguns from licensed dealers must be at least 21. We now know that the mass murderer in Uvalde purchased two AR-15s just after his 18th birthday.

After the 2018 massacre in Parkland, Florida, six states increased the minimum purchase age for long guns to 21. Those states were Florida, Washington, Vermont, California, Illinois and Hawaii. The shooter in the Parkland mass shooting was 19 years old. Killers and criminals don’t obey laws, that should go without saying. New restrictions end up punishing law abiding citizens and infringing on their rights, however slow and small it happens.

Senator John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, is one of a small bipartisan group working on the issue in the Senate. He said he spoke with McConaughey on the phone and “may see him as a constituent.”

McConaughey was careful to write in his op-ed that he’s supportive of some common sense measures that are largely supported by Americans.

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.


The problem in Congress is that the bipartisan group of senators are trying to find some common ground as the far-left in the progressive caucus demands extreme measures. Cornyn is working on small steps that don’t infringe on Second Amendment rights. Hardening schools and funding mental health programs is a good start. Even Democrat Chris Murphy admits that banning the sale of rifles like AR-15s isn’t going to happen.

Rep. Mondaire Jones (D- NY) hysterically railed in the House Judiciary Committee that the Protecting Our Kids Act must pass in Congress.

The Protecting Our Kids Act would raise the age to buy a centerfire rifle from 18-years-old to 21-years-old, ban large-capacity magazines, create a gun buyback grant program and expand the ban on bump stocks and ghost guns. It would also create a tax credit for buyers of gun safe storage and establish penalties for violating safe storage at home.

Jones issued threats like abolishing the filibuster and packing the Supreme Court if the bill is not passed.

“You will not stop us from advancing the Protecting Our Kids Act today,” he added. “If the filibuster obstructs us, we will abolish it. If the Supreme Court objects, we will expand it. And we will not rest until we have taken weapons of war out of circulation and our communities each and every day.”

That ridiculously heated rhetoric does nothing to inspire rational discussions on school safety or curbing mass shootings. McConaughey takes a more measured approach than the congressman from New York or, say, Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke. It’s a more liberal approach than conservatives will agree to, though, and that’s the catch. Starting with mental health issues is a part of the equation that almost everyone can agree on and it makes sense that this is where some lawmakers want to begin.


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