US actor Matthew McConaughey made an emotional appeal for a “responsible” use of guns in the White House after the Uvalde school massacre. “We are now in a window that we have never experienced before where it seems that real change is possible,” said the 52-year-old on Tuesday.

The actor comes from the small town in the state of Texas, where an 18-year-old shot 19 elementary school students and two teachers at the end of May.

McConaughey, who visited the scene and met with the victims’ families, spoke poignantly in Washington about some of the children who died. He showed a colorful drawing by Alithia Ramirez, a ten-year-old who wanted to one day attend art school in Paris.

McConaughey also pointed to a pair of green shoes that belonged to another victim, Maite Rodriguez. “Green Converse shoes with a heart on the right toe,” McConaughey said. “These are the same green Converse on her feet that turned out to be the only positive evidence that could identify her after the shooting,” he added, banging his fist on the lectern. “What do you say to that?”

McConaughey met with US President Joe Biden and members of Congress before the press conference. The families of the victims of Uvalde told him that they wanted their loss to have meaning. “We have comforted so many people,” he said. “And you know what they all said? We want safe schools and we want gun laws that don’t make it easy for the bad guys to get those damn guns.”

McConaughey campaigned for Biden’s proposed tightening of gun laws. He called for tighter controls on gun buyers and raising the minimum age for buying assault rifles to 21.

He called on Democrats and Republicans to approach each other on the issue. “As divided as our country is, we are united on the issue of gun responsibility,” he said. “Can both sides look beyond the political issue and admit that we have a problem with protecting life?”