Star actor Matthew McConaughey has taken a stand at Wednesday’s White House briefing, calling on Congress to “reach a higher ground” and pass gun control legislation in the wake of last month’s shooting in his hometown of Uvalde, Texas.

In a 22-minute speech, McConaughey urged Congress to pass lifesaving gun reforms that didn’t infringe on Second Amendment rights, per the NZ Herald.

The Dallas Buyers Club star spoke for 22 minutes, having spent several days in his hometown following the shooting, sharing the “stories, tears and memories” he and his wife witnessed there, all while urging a divided Congress to pass lifesaving gun reforms that didn’t infringe on Second Amendment rights.

“The common thread, independent of the anger and the confusion and the sadness, was the same: How can these families continue to honour these deaths by keeping the dreams of these children and teachers alive?” he said.

“So while we honour and acknowledge the victims, we need to recognise that this time it seems that something is different.

“There is a sense that perhaps there is a viable path forward. Responsible parties in this debate seem to at least be committed to sitting down and having a real conversation about a new and improved path forward – a path that can bring us closer together and make us a safer country. A path that can actually get something done this time.”

While sharing the personal stories of a number of the 19 children who were victims of the shooting, he displayed the artwork of one girl and the trademark green tennis shoes that belonged to 10-year-old Maite Rodriguez.

McConaughey spoke of Maite’s dream of becoming a marine biologist and her passion for nature, becoming emotional while recounting that the shoes he was holding, branded with a heart over the right toe, were the “only clear evidence that could identify her”.

He explained that he met a cosmetologist in Uvalde who had experience in mortuary makeup for open-casket viewings.

“These bodies were very different [from most],” he explained. “They needed extensive restoration. Why? Due to the extremely large exit wounds of an AR-15 rifle. Most of the bodies were so mutilated that only DNA tests or green Converse could identify them.”

“Many children were left not only dead – but hollow,” McConaughey added.

McConaughey, who has previously identified as “aggressively centric” and has considered running for Texas governor, as reported by Vanity Fair, acknowledged that gun legislation wouldn’t end mass shootings, but suggested steps that could be taken to reduce the chances of others happening so often.

“We need to invest in mental healthcare. We need safer schools. We need to restrain sensationalised media coverage. We need to restore family values. We need to restore our American values and we need responsible gun ownership,” he said.

“Is this a cure all? Hell no, but people are hurting.”

“I promise you, America, you and me, we are not as divided as we are being told we are.”

To watch his full speech, head here.

Image: Getty Images

This article first appeared on OverSixty.