These are the same green Converse, on her feet, that turned out to be the only clear evidence that could identify her after the shooting.” Maite Rodriguez, one of the children who was killed in Uvalde, Texas, last month wore those shoes every day as a sign of her love for nature. Her story, and many others, formed the core of an impassioned speech by Oscar-winning actor Mathew McConaughey at the White House on Tuesday. His message was simple, and powerful: In the aftermath of one of the most gruesome school shootings in the US, there is no excuse to delay reasonable gun control legislation.
Uvalde is McConaughey’s hometown. And, like many Texans and others in the American South, he is a proud gun owner. His plea, emotional to be certain, was also eminently reasonable. The ideological commitment that many in the US have to the Second Amendment — which guarantees the right to bear arms — must not be allowed to override the fact that children and teachers are routinely killed by young people with mental health issues and access to military-grade weapons. Background checks, counseling, reasonable restrictions — those are the contours of the non-partisan gun control law that McConaughey proposed.
Many of McConaughey’s most iconic roles—in A Time to Kill and The Lincoln Lawyer, for example—had him deliver impassioned closing arguments as a lawyer. He used that skill, and the raw emotion he felt after meeting the families of the 19 dead at Uvalde to do what politicians have been unable to: Be both reasonable and emotional on gun control debate. The US Congress has passed gun control legislation but the Senate, where the Republicans hold sway, will likely not ratify the law. Sometimes, even the most reasonable request cannot hold politics at the water’s edge. But by shining a spotlight on the children that died at Uvalde, he has done his bit to give some meaning to their lives.