Supporters of tighter gun laws sound off in Washington

STORY: “We are in a window of opportunity right now that we have not been in before."

Calls for gun reform could be heard loud and clear across Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, as lawmakers, shooting victims and advocates for stricter gun laws spoke out for legislation to reduce mass shootings.

Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConnaughey, a native of Uvalde, Texas, met President Joe Biden and delivered an emotional plea for change from the White House podium.

"We need background checks. We need to raise the minimum age to purchase an AR-15 rifle to 21. We need a waiting period for those rifles. We need red flag laws and consequences for those who abuse them."

Former congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who suffered a severe brain injury during an assassination attempt in 2011, opened a temporary memorial for victims of gun violence at the National Mall in Washington.

The memorial honors the 45,000 lives lost to gun violence in 2020.

“Now is the time to come together, be responsible. Democrats, Republicans, everyone. We must never stop fighting. Fight, fight, fight. Be bold, be courageous.”

Former Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield lost his mother in the attack that left 10 Black people dead at a grocery store.

He told senators that they should step aside if they could not act.

“We're more than hurt. We're angry. We're mad as hell because this should have never happened."

"My mother's life mattered. Your actions here today would tell us how much it matters to you."

Democrats in the U.S. Senate have said they were encouraged by ongoing talks with Republicans.

But the issue of gun reform has stalled in Congress for over a decade.

The White House said Biden simply wants to see some kind of legislation passed, even if a deal could not be reached on his call to ban assault rifles.

Senators are considering whether states should adopt "red flag" laws, which would deny firearms to people deemed a risk to public safety or themselves, as well as upgrades to school security and strengthening mental health services.

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