Matthew McConaughey delivered an emotional speech at the White House Tuesday urging lawmakers to commit to stricter gun reform legislation.
The 52-year-old Oscar winner used his time at the press briefing room podium to tell the story of those who died last month in the deadly shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, the actor’s hometown.
McConaughey held up a drawing by one of the young victims, 10-year-old Alithia Ramirez, explaining that the little girl had dreamed of going to art school in Paris.
The actor choked up after his wife, Camila Alves, held up a pair of green Converse sneakers with a heart drawn on them that police used to determine the identity of another young victim, Maite Rodriguez.
The shoes were the "only clear evidence that could identify her," McConaughey said, slamming the podium in anger.
The "Dallas Buyers Club" star, who met with lawmakers and President Biden prior to his speech, explained the bodies of the shooting's 21 victims — 19 children and two teachers — were "mutilated" by the large exit wounds from the shooter's AR-15 rifle. In many cases, DNA tests were necessary for identification.
“Many children were left not only dead but hollow,” said the actor.
McConaughey, Alves and their three children traveled to Uvalde after the shooting and met with victims’ families. In their heartbreak, family members told the couple they didn't want their loved ones to have died in vain.
“The common thread — independent of the anger and the confusion and sadness — it was the same. How can these families continue to honor these deaths by keeping the dreams of these children and teachers alive? Again, how can the loss of these lives matter?” he said.
Elsewhere in his speech, McConaughey called out the "people in power" in both the Democrat and Republican parties for failing to pass stricter gun laws.
"Can both sides see beyond the political problem at hand and admit that we have a life preservation problem on our hands?” said the actor, who is a proponent of universal background checks for gun buyers as well as raising the age to buy assault rifles from 18 to 21 and implementing a national waiting period for assault rifles.
“We’re got to take a sober, humble and honest look in the mirror and rebrand ourselves based on what we truly value," he added.
McConaughey, whose mother is a former kindergarten teacher, said when he first learned of the shootings, he was in "shock."
"I drove home and hugged my children a bit tighter and longer than the night before and then the reality of what had happened that day in the town I was born in set in," he recalled.
The next morning, the couple, who have also set up a relief fund for victims' families, and their kids made the trip to Uvalde.
"Even from inside our vehicle, you could feel the shock in the town," he said. "You could feel the pain."
On May 25, just one day after the shooting, McConaughey posted a plea on social media urging lawmakers to pass stricter gun laws.
“This is an epidemic we can control, and whichever side of the aisle we may stand on, we all know we can do better,” he wrote. “Action must be taken so that no parent has to experience what the parents in Uvalde and the others before have endured.”