Back in May, 21 innocent lives were taken in the tragic mass shooting at Robb Elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.
A senseless and evil act of violence, perpetrated against innocent children, in what’s supposed to be a safe haven for each and every child to learn and grow… as a father, it deeply grieves my heart.
And I’m very pro-police, but I can’t even talk about the cowardly police response without feeling rage well up in my blood. How grown men, armed with rifles, body armor, shields and numbers, stood by (despite some begging to go in) while defenseless teachers and children were murdered down the hall makes me sick.
And for the officer who was held back from storming into his wife’s classroom, unable to even try and save his dying wife… infuriating. I can’t even imagine what it feels like knowing a loved one could possibly be getting murdered only a few yards away, and you aren’t allowed to do a single thing about it.
My heart absolutely breaks for Officer Ruiz and his family, along with the 20 others who lost their lives.
And whenever a tragedy like this happens (far too often lately), a number of celebrities and multi-millionaires love to get on their soapboxes, spew their self-righteous bullshit over Twitter, and join whatever corny social media trend starts going around… all hollow and meaningless gestures that we could do without.
Not Matthew McConaughey however.
He took action.
McConaughey is a native of Uvalde, Texas, so the tragedy was personal for him, and he immediately booked a flight home.
He spoke with the families, spoke with the city officials, state officials, spoke with politicians, he went to Washington D.C., and he worked to pass some of the most meaningful bipartisan gun reform legislation this country has seen in quite some time… reforms that most pro-Second Amendment people like myself can get behind.
In a new op-ed for Esquire Matthew McConaughey detailed his entire experience, from the moment he heard the awful news, until now.
And before we get into my favorite part (and the one people on both sides of the aisle agree on)… the slimy, do-nothing politicians in Washington, let’s start with the most contentious part… gun control.
McConaughey make his position known in detail… and the Texan is very pro-Second Amendment.
Uvalde is where McConaughey learned to shoot a gun, but more importantly, it’s where he learned about the responsibility of owning, storing and firing one:
“I support the Second Amendment. I believe we should have access to guns for hunting, sport, and self-defense. I believe all firearm purchases should be subject to an extensive background check, and unless you’re in the military, you should be twenty-one to purchase an assault rifle.
I believe that extreme risk protection orders, or “red-flag laws,” that respect due process should be the law of the land and that firearm-safety courses should be mandatory.
Most of my friends and neighbors in Texas agree with these positions, and many of them also agree that our Second Amendment rights have been getting hijacked by troubled men with bad intent.
It seems we have forgotten that our rights come with obligations—what’s more, that our rights depend on our fulfillment of those obligations. To do nothing is more than irresponsible; it’s un-American. Our firearm policy is failing us, and we are failing it.”
So McConaughey went to Washington D.C. and started knocking on doors with a different perspective on the term “gun control.” He called it “gun responsibility.”
He met with Senators and Representatives and the dialog began. He then delivered an emotional speech at a White House Press briefing:
As much as those conversations started to gain traction, and ultimately led to legislation getting passed, McConaughey couldn’t help but feel defeated by the American political system.
A self-serving system that is patently broken… which you can probably figure out by spending 10 minutes watching the news.
McConaughey saw it first hand and left feeling disappointed at the complacency… the willingness to do whatever it takes to get elected, and rather than whatever it takes to serve the American people.
And he didn’t pull punches:
“I arrived in Washington with such a reverence for our government and those who run it. While I’m not going to say that I lost that reverence, I did see the most powerful legislators in America playing an implicit political game, one they seemed to be handcuffed to, even systematically imprisoned by, as if it were the price of entry.
I learned just how frustrating politics can be. There’s often more arguing about where, how, and who started a fire than working together to put the damn thing out. It sometimes feels like politicians don’t really want solutions, because solutions would put them out of a job. Optics are often prized over substance—who gets the credit often takes precedence over whom that credit is serving, or how well.
With a disparity between belief and action, it’s hard to be in the make-a-difference business if you’re only in the reelection business. I was told on more than two occasions that the best way to remain in power is to vote no on everything—and while I understand that the wheels of government are constitutionally engineered to spin slowly in the mud, I learned that some consider their political purpose to be holding the hose over the dirt. Our government has deficits to repair, and not just the monetary kind.”
He went on to say that politicians should be held to the highest standard of ethics, but have become so poisoned against their opponents,
“Of course, we all can and should critique ourselves for similar shortcomings, but it’s worth reminding our elected officials that we hold them to a higher ethical standard because of their position.
It seems that each party is so harmfully consumed by despising the opposition that they’ve become little more than counterpunchers—so focused on the parry and the party defense that they’ve become reactive by default.
They’ve lost sight of their own values and vision, thereby ceding their power to the fringes. That’s a problem.”
And here’s the kicker:
Because most Americans, myself included, don’t stand on the political fringes. We are reasonable and responsible, and we share more values than we’re being told we do—and we believe that meeting each other in the middle is in service of the greater good.
We have the majority. We have the numbers.
That’s why it’s high time we take the megaphone back from the extremists who’ve been manufacturing these false fractures among us. They’ve been selling us soft porn at the pep rally for too long. It’s time to kick them off the port and starboard sides of the boat on which American democracy sails . . . or at least relegate them to mopping the deck.”
The whole article is well worth the read, but if nothing else, it’s another reminder that there is common ground to be achieved. And this country won’t thrive until we’re willing to reach it.