Actor Matthew McConaughey, a native of Uvalde, Texas, visited the White House Tuesday and urged leaders to make the loss of 19 children and two teachers in last month’s school shooting “matter.”

“So I am here today in the hopes of applying what energy, reason and passion that I have and to try and turn this moment into a reality because this moment is different,” an emotional McConaughey said during Tuesday’s White House briefing. “We start by making the loss of these lives matter.”

“We start by making laws that save lives and don’t infringe on our Second Amendment rights. We start right now by voting to pass policies that can keep us from having so many Columbine, Sandy Hooks, Parklands, Las Vegas and Uvaldes.”

McConaughey, who once considered a run for Texas governor, talked about learning to handle guns responsibly as a boy in Uvalde, as he called for gun responsibility, not gun control.

“We need background checks. We need to raise the minimum age to purchase an AR-15 rifle to 21. We need a waiting period for those rifles. We need red flag laws and consequences for those who abuse them,” he said.

The actor reminisced about last month’s visit to his hometown after the shooting, as he showed photos of the children killed and described how their families pleaded with him to make sure their loss mattered.

“We need to invest in mental health care. We need safer schools. We need to restrain sensationalized media coverage. We need to restore our family values. We need to restore American values,” McConaughey said.

McConaughey also discussed conversations he had with gun owners in Uvalde. “Responsible gun owners are fed up with the Second Amendment being abused and hijacked by some deranged individuals,” he said.

And the actor challenged leaders in Washington, D.C. to finally enact gun laws that save lives.

“Can both sides see beyond the political problem at hand and admit that we have a life preservation problem on our hands,” McConaughey said. “This should not be a partisan issue.”

“As divided as our country is, this gun responsibility issue is one that we agree on more than we don’t,” the actor said. “Find the middle ground, a place where most of us Americans live anyway, especially on this issue, because I promise you, America, you and me, we are not as divided as we are being told we are.”

McConaughey wrapped up the briefing by calling on Congress to make a difference now and take “a chance to make the right choice that does more than protect your party. A chance to make the right choice that protects our country now and for the next generation.”

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