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Matthew McConaughey — who was born in Uvalde, Texas — is speaking out against gun violence in an essay he's written in the wake of the Uvalde school shooting.
The actor, who considered running for governor of Texas last year, penned an op-ed for the Austin-American Statesmen, saying American gun owners "have a duty to be responsible" and suggested "a few reasonable measures to restore responsible gun ownership in our country."
"I am a father, the son of a kindergarten teacher, and an American. I was also born in Uvalde, Texas. That’s why I’m writing this," the Oscar-winning actor began the essay.
"I believe that responsible, law-abiding Americans have a Second Amendment right, enshrined by our founders, to bear arms," he continued. "I also believe we have a cultural obligation to take steps toward slowing down the senseless killing of our children. The debate about gun control has delivered nothing but status quo. It’s time we talk about gun responsibility."
The Dallas Buyers Club star, 52, wrote about the "difference between control and responsibility. 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."
He said that "depraved acts of violence, with guns as the weapon of choice, are ripping apart families, tearing at people’s faith, and shredding the fabric of our society. We have an epidemic of indiscriminate mass shootings, of parents burying their children, of inaction, and buck-passing. Saving the unnecessary loss of lives is not a partisan issue."
And while he's aware that better mental health care and school safety are among things that need to be addressed, "right now, we don’t have the luxury of time." He then went on to outline four things that can "immediately reduce the gun violence tragedies that have become too common in our country. We need to make the lost lives matter. Our leaders must make bipartisan compromises on a few reasonable measures to restore responsible gun ownership in our country."
The measures include: mandatory background checks for gun purchases, raising the age to buy assault rifles to 21, implementing a national waiting period to buy assault rifles and establishing Red Flag Laws.
"I want to be clear. 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 wrote, adding, "This is not a choice between guns or no guns. It’s the responsible choice. It's the reasonable choice."
He concluded by writing, "To find common ground on this issue, both sides are going to have to answer the call and reach for the higher ground of our collective responsibility." Because "business as usual isn’t working. 'That’s just how it is' cannot be an excuse. The heinous bloodshed of innocent people cannot become bearable. If we continue to just stand by, we’re living a lie. With every right there comes a duty.
"For ourselves, our children, and our fellow Americans — we have a duty to be responsible gun owners. Please do yours and protect the Second Amendment through gun responsibility. It’s time for real leaders to step up and do what’s right, so we can each and all just keep livin'."
McConaughey spent his young childhood in Uvalde, where 19 school children and two teachers were shot dead by an 18-year-old gunman who legally purchased AK-15-style rifles. His mother, Kay, worked at a school there.
McConaughey, who resides in Austin with his wife Camila Alves, their three young children (Levi, 13; Vida, 12; and Livingston, 9) and Kay, spoke out in the immediate aftermath of the shooting saying Americans "must do better."
The star also visited Uvalde in the wake of the shooting. He went to the civic center with Republican Rep. Tony Gonzalez, whose congressional district includes Uvalde.
McConaughey also brought his family to Robb Elementary School to pay their respects to the victims. Photos showed them standing solemnly at the site, where people have placed flowers, personalized crosses and signs for the loved ones they lost.
Late last week, McConaughey and his wife announced the launch of a Uvalde relief fund through their Just Keep Living Foundation that will help the families and community affected by the massacre. One hundred percent of donations to the fund will be used to support grief counseling, pay for burial services and go toward other immediate and long-term needs of the community.
Last year, McConaughey considered a run for governor, against incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican. While early polls showed he was favored, despite little being known about his political beliefs, he announced in November that he decided against it.
At the time, he said, "As a simple kid born in the little town of Uvalde, Texas, it never occurred to me that I would one day be considered for political leadership. It is a humbling and inspiring path to ponder. It is also a path that I'm choosing not to take at this moment." Instead of running, McConaughey vowed to continue to support "entrepreneurs, businesses and foundations that I believe are leaders" as well as create "pathways for people to succeed in life."