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Matthew McConaughey on Guns: ‘There’s a Difference Between Control and Responsibility’

Matthew McConaughey is a native of Uvalde, Texas, the small border town where a gunman shot and killed 19 children and two teachers in Robb Elementary School. Since then, he’s been vocal about the hunt for answers to America’s horrifying rash of gun violence, which continued apace last weekend with a staggering 10 mass shootings over the course of last weekend.

McConaughey is advocating for some lighter tightenings on current gun laws, a proposal he calls “gun responsibility” instead of “gun control.”

“There is a difference between control and responsibility,” he wrote in an op-ed in the Austin American-Statesman. “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.”

In the piece, McConaughey said he believes there are certain societal factors contributing to gun violence that lawmakers should address, noting things like “mental health care, school safety, the prevalence of sensationalized media coverage and the decaying state of American values.” But he also said that the threat of gun violence requires immediate action.

On that front, he suggests a few gun control measures that don’t quite rise to the Democratic Party’s wishlist for comprehensive gun control reform, but do go beyond the GOP’s party line of leaving current federal laws as is.

First up, while McConaughey does not call for banning assault weapons, he does advocate for raising the minimum age to buy an assault rifle to 21. “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.” McConaughey said an exception to this rule should be made for military members.

He also suggested universal background checks, closing all loopholes, which he referred to as “incompetence” and a mandatory waiting period for assault weapons. “Gun suicides account for the majority of U.S. gun deaths,” he wrote. “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.”

Finally, McConaughey advocated for so-called Red Flag Laws, which give family members and law enforcement officials the ability to petition courts to temporarily revoke an individual’s right to buy and own guns if they are concerned that they might be a danger to themself or others. Such laws are already in place in 19 states and Washington D.C. “These laws must respect due process, judicial review and hold account individuals who may abuse such laws,” McConaughey wrote.

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McConaughey sounds a little like a politician here, and rumors have long circulated about his own political aspirations. He’s batted such rumors away for now, but has made it clear that he is not saying “never.” In 2020, he told RELEVANT that he’s learning to trust his future to God. “God’s laying out the highways, but we each have our hand on the wheel,” he said at the time. “I look at Earth. I look at the little dot that we are on the planet. The world’s turning. And we’re that little individual on the planet. That smallness can make you go, ‘Oh my gosh. I’m nothing. None of what I do matters. But a place of humility is actually when you realize, ‘Oh, it all matters.’ There’s a great empowerment that comes with that.”

“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,” McConaughey wrote. “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,” he concluded.

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