Actor Matthew McConaughey makes emotional plea for gun control at White House

Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey appeared to choke up as he spoke about the child victims of an school shooting in his hometown of Uvalde, Texas, after meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden at the White House on Tuesday.

Oscar-winner holds up photos of schoolchildren slain in his hometown of Uvalde, Texas

Actor Matthew McConaughey becomes emotional as he holds up a picture of 10-year-old victim Alithia Ramirez, who died in the Uvalde, Texas, elementary school shooting on May 24. McConaughey appeared at the White House and met with U.S. President Joe Biden to discuss gun control on Tuesday. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey appeared at the White House on Tuesday to meet with U.S. President Joe Biden and make an emotional call for gun control measures, after a deadly elementary school shooting in his hometown of Uvalde, Texas, two weeks ago.

Nineteen children and two teachers were shot to death at Robb Elementary School on May 24 by an 18-year-old gunman wielding a semi-automatic rifle.

McConaughey, who publicly weighed a run for governor in Texas last year but ultimately ruled it out, briefly met with Biden at the White House before he appeared at the daily news briefing, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.

The 52-year-old actor told reporters: "Uvalde is where I was taught to revere the power and the capability of the tool that we call a gun. Uvalde is where I learned responsible gun ownership."

He said responsible gun owners are "fed up with the Second Amendment being abused and hijacked by some deranged individuals," and urged raising the minimum age for purchasing an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle to 21.

Gun rights advocates say the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to own and bear firearms.

WATCH | McConaughey calls for gun control: 

Matthew McConaughey calls for gun control

2 months ago
Duration 2:23
Actor Matthew McConaughey speaks about the child victims of the school shooting in his hometown, Uvalde, Texas, and appeals for gun control measures, after a meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden

McConaughey appeared to choke up several times as he held up photos of some of the child victims and talked about their families, what they were wearing on the day they were shot, and what they wanted to be when they grew up.

The actor also went through a brief biography of each victim, slamming his fist in the lectern at one point to describe one of them.

"While we honour and acknowledge the victims we need to recognize that this time seems that something is different," he said.

"There is a sense that perhaps there's 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."

Camila Alves McConaughey, his wife, holds the green Converse shoes that Uvalde shooting victim Maite Yuleana Rodriguez, 10, wore on the day of the attack. He told reporters that the shoes were the only way for Maite's family to identify her body. (Susan Walsh/The Associated Press)

McConaughey spoke as Democrats in the U.S. Senate said they were encouraged by talks with their Republican counterparts on firearms legislation — but warned any compromise would fall short of the steps they say are needed to curb gun violence.

McConaughey said he visited the White House to try to turn the moment into a reality. His comments, however, were expected to have little impact.

The actor, who met with lawmakers on Capitol Hill earlier in the day to discuss gun reform legislation, asked politicians to change how they approached their job in remarks that did not single out either party. His comments, however, appeared to be intended for Republicans in Congress who have opposed gun legislation.

"Let's admit it," he said. "We can't truly be leaders if we're only living for re-election."

McConaughey gave details about each child victim of the shooting, while holding up artwork by them. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

With files by CBC News