Matthew McConaughey brings messages from Uvalde to the White House

Actor addresses the press after a brief meeting with President Joe Biden

After meeting with President Joe Biden, actor Matthew McConaughey joins White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre during the daily news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room on Tuesday. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
After meeting with President Joe Biden, actor Matthew McConaughey joins White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre during the daily news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room on Tuesday. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Posted June 7, 2022 at 4:39pm

Matthew McConaughey's visit to the White House press briefing room on Tuesday was not in the slightest degree for entertainment.

The Academy Award-winning actor's advocacy for new gun laws brought him to the White House, where he spoke of the discussions he has had in his hometown of Uvalde, Texas, since the May 24 mass shooting at an elementary school there. He told of meeting, along with his wife, Camila Alves, with a local funeral director as makeup artists and morticians worked around the clock to prepare for burials of the 19 students and two teachers murdered.

"They needed extensive restoration. Why? Due to the exceptionally large exit wounds of an AR-15 rifle," McConaughey said, delivering a statement to reporters after a brief meeting with President Joe Biden. "Most of the bodies so mutilated that only DNA tests or a green Converse could identify. Many children were left not only dead but hollow, so, yes, counselors are going to be the new reality for a long time."

McConaughey toured Capitol Hill this week ahead of his White House visit, meeting with key lawmakers from both parties, including Senate Judiciary Chair Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., and ranking Republican Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa.

"Can both sides see beyond the political problem at hand and admit that we have a life preservation problem on our hands? We've got a chance right now to reach for and to grasp a higher ground above our political affiliations, a chance to make a choice that does more than protect your party," McConaughey said at the White House.

Before McConaughey, Biden met with Sen. Christopher S. Murphy, the Connecticut Democrat who has been leading negotiations with Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and other Republicans over a legislative response to recent mass shootings.

During a truncated regular briefing following McConaughey's departure, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Biden was "encouraged" by the status of discussions at the Capitol.

"Sen. Murphy has said this many times during interviews on various networks here, that he believes it's time for the Senate to act, and that is what they're doing. The president is encouraged about what he's seeing with this team of negotiators on the Senate side," Jean-Pierre said.

Murphy provided an update on the talks to Biden, as well as to viewers of ABC's "The View." He said there would not be 10 GOP votes in the Senate to break a filibuster on a bill to ban AR-15s. But he said he would not "let the perfect be the enemy of the good."

"Right now, you can't buy a handgun if you're 18 to 21, but you can buy a rifle, including an assault rifle. For a lot of us, that doesn't seem to make sense," Murphy said on "The View" from the White House lawn.

"I am deeply hopeful that perhaps by the end of this week we can announce a framework," Murphy said.

Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., and Sen. Christopher S. Murphy, D-Conn., attend a memorial on the National Mall on Tuesday to remember victims of gun violence. Members of Congress also called for action on gun safety legislation. (Tom WIlliams/CQ Roll Call)

Before going to the White House, Murphy was among the attendees at an event at the Gun Violence Memorial installation on the National Mall, along with dignitaries including former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the Democrat from Arizona who was shot at a district event in Tucson, Ariz., in 2011.