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Matthew McConaughey is weighing in at length on the debate over gun control in the wake of the elementary school mass shooting in his hometown of Uvalde, Texas.
The Oscar winner argues that focusing on gun control has produced nothing more than a decades-long political stalemate and that it’s time to shift the conversation to what he calls “gun responsibility.”
“There is a difference between control and responsibility,” the actor wrote in an op-ed in the Austin American-Statesman on Monday. “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.”
McConaughey ticked off some “long-term societal factors” that he says eventually need to be addressed — “mental health care, school safety, the prevalence of sensationalized media coverage and the decaying state of American values are all long-term societal factors” — but then said there’s a pressing need for actions that will result in an immediate reduction in gun violence.
The Dallas Buyers Club actor then avoided popular gun control ideas like banning assault-style weapons, such as the AR-15 that was used in the Uvalde shooting. Instead, the actor advocated for the following measures which are more likely to garner bipartisan support:
- Background checks for all gun purchases. “Gun control activists call this a loophole,” he wrote. “I call it incompetence.”
- A minimum age of 21 years old to buy an assault rifle unless the buyer is in the military. “I’m talking about the weapon of choice for mass murderers, AR-15s,” he wrote. “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.”
- A nationwide adoption of so-called Red Flag Laws. “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,” he wrote. “These laws must respect due process, judicial review, and hold account [sic] individuals who may abuse such laws.”
- A national waiting period for assault rifles. “Studies show that mandatory waiting periods reduced homicides by 17 percent,” he wrote. “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.”
McConaughey called for Republicans and Democrats to make compromises to move the ball forward on the issue.
“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,” he added. “Where I have the right to be me, you have the freedom to be you, and we have the responsibility to be US. … Business as usual isn’t working.”
McConaughey has a long history of activism and philanthropy in his home state, and last year even contemplated jumping into the race for governor.
McConaughey opted out of running for office last November despite some hypothetical polls saying he would be a formidable candidate. The actor noted that he would instead “continue to work and invest the bounty I have by supporting entrepreneurs, businesses and foundations that I believe are leaders, establishments that I believe are creating pathways for people to succeed in life, organizations that have a mission to serve and build trust while also generating prosperity. That’s the American dream.”
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