To the bloodshed in America's classrooms.
A grief stricken community in Nashville is gathering for a vigil this evening to mourn the three children in the three adults were killed in a mass shooting at a Christian school on Monday.
More details are emerging about what happened that day.
New body cam footage is showing how the police confronted the shooter, who local authorities say was under care for an emotional disorder and had legally purchased seven guns in the past three years.
For Americans everywhere, this incident is incredibly triggering.
Our next guest is no exception.
Democrat Maxwell Frost made history in 2022 when he became the first person from generation Z to win a seat in Congress.
Formally one of the leaders of the March for our lives movement.
He tells Michelle Martin why the shooting in Nashville is so utterly outrageous.
Representative Frost, thank you so much for talking with us.
>> thank you so much for having me.
>> I just wanted to start thinking about the fact that we're speaking with you after a person killed six people at a Christian school in Nashville.
People may remember that you were the first national organizing director of the student led anti-gun violence group March for our Live.
s. Just a couple of days ago was the fifth anniversary of that 2018 student led campaign.
I just was wondering what the last day or so has brought up for you as a person so involved that issue.
>> You know, it is incredibly number one triggering for myself and for the friends of mine that have grown up with over the past decade fighting with to end gun violence.
I go on social media every time after the shootings and see my friends from Parkland, my friends from the different shootings across the entire country talking about having to relive their own trauma because of what is happening right now.
I found out about the shooting right before I hopped on a plane to come to D.C. And spent the whole time thinking about him being very angry about the fact that this isn't normal and should not be a reality when we live in a world that for so many people growing up especially people part of my generation, they see this gun violence as normal, because it happens on a daily basis.
Seems like every week there is another mass shooting.
And those are the ones people hear about.
There are so many shootings -- we lose 100 people a day due to gun violence.
The multiple instances of gun violence happen in black and brown communities.
White middle-aged Americans who will take their lives with a gun in a day as well.
There is a lot of work that needs to be done on this issue.
>> Is there any work that you have done in Congress that sheds light that this solution seems to elude us?
In gun violence and on any issue, whenever you see broad opposition, and why has nothing been done, what going on?
Almost always, I will say always, there is some sort of lobby behind it that has a goal of valuing profits over people.
And is the same thing in the gun issue.
You can boil it down to culture, a huge part of it and boil it down to power, which is a huge part of it, but behind all of that, there are think about the NRA says they are an advocacy organization.
They are not an advocacy organization.
They are lobbying -- they are a lobbying front.
That way these gun companies can make more money.
Corporate greed, and the role the corporations play in our politics is a huge reason why we do not have voting rights or adequate gun laws in this country, huge reason why health care in this country is not a health care system by a sickness care system and really something we cannot just look about and tech -- and talk about.
In the 10 years I've been working on this issue, one bill has passed and it is an OK bill.
It will save lives, but that is the reason why.
It all balls down to corporations, -- boils down to people valuing profits over people.
>> You arrived in Congress at the point at which your party went into the minority after having been in the majority for some number of years.
But I was looking at the list of hearings today's and many of our -- of them are big tech censorship, disorder at the border, I am interested in how you set priorities for yourself at a time when the institutional -- levers do not seem to be there in the house for people with your perspective.
>> No what the situation is, no matter what is going on we have to stay true to our values and what we believe in, and the issues we ran on.
I ran on ending gun violence and ensuring everyone has health care.
I ran on voting rights and I ran on ending a climate crisis and I will stick true to those values the matter who the speaker of the house is.
However, we do know that a lot of times we have to take small steps to get there.
We-- it doesn't mean we let go of the North stars, but we realize up a situation.
The Republicans have a slim majority and they are focused on not bills that will help people that bills that will set themselves up to keep the house and run for president in less than two years.
I'm not making this up.
Jim Jordan, one of the most senior members of that party, said it himself that the next two years will be about setting -- themselves up for the election.
And we see that in the bills.
Look in the bills I had an oversight.
I had one that was called the Biden investigation: the Department of treasury, like it is some sort of movie title.
I had another one was that Hunter Biden laptop Twitter files, part I.
When is part II?
It is all theatrics.
And it is all messaging and not about affordable housing, not about helping working-class families, not about helping to end gun violence, supporting small business, none of that.
That is all about messaging and pacing -- and placing blame on the Biden administration for issues that have been there for a while and issues they are not interested in working together on.
>> Given the realities as you understand them, what is your role here, what are you going to do?
>> It a few different things.
On oversight, I have an important job of pushing back on all of the lies we're seeing from this far right MAGA wing of the Republican party and we will continue to push back on those things in these committee hearings and that is one of our front lines over the next two years.
On space and technology, which is the other committee I sit on, this is more of a bipartisan committee, where we can work together on the -- I am on the environmental subcommittee, work together in terms of resiliency against the impacts of the climate crisis.
We are not going to get the green deal this year or next year, but what we can get are smaller incremental steps that hopefully appropriate money in the right where we can -- where we can prevent the climate crisis and put money in the hands of community groups that are doing great work.
In terms of resiliency but in terms of preventative measures and reducing emissions.
So that is one of the examples on gun violence I just filed my first bill last week, to create a federal office of gun violence prevention, a bicameral legislation which means that it also was introduced in the Senate.
I worked with Chris Murphy.
We introduced it at the same day with advocates and survivor surrounding us.
That is a bill that -- it is not gun policy, it is just a department to research data and provide recommendations on gun violence.
I hope that because it is not quote unquote policy and is about creating an office that we get Republican support.
Is it going to end the gun violence immediately?
But it is providing a daily solution to a daily problem.
>> Do you see any areas of possible agreement with members of the house majority, the Republican Party, on matters such as this?
>> I hope so.
I've had conversation with members of the Florida delegation and we have already done two bipartisan things.
Number one we worked together on the, Republicans and Democrats, ensuring there is no -- in Florida.
We also all came together to write a letter to the Florida Legislature to protect the Everglades.
We have already been doing it.
We cosponsored a ton of bipartisan legislation.
None of this is the type of legislation that, the transformational change we redirect -- we need.
I do not know if you saw the recent report but we do not have much time to drastically cut emissions or my generation and my kids or kids' kids are going to have the consequences to bear.
We see that Republicans are being very, you know, there is a vengeance associated with being in the majority right now.
So, there has not been a ton of collaboration on a lot of the bigger ticket items.
>> Is that really across-the-board or is just -- is that for the cameras?
What I'm curious about is behind the scenes, are there members of the House Republican majority who are willing to work with people like you and others like you on things that, that would move the ball forward?
>> Some are.
You'll rarely find someone in Congress, a member, who -- doesn't want to work with anyone on anything.
Even far right members I disagree without a lot of things, I had conversations about music legislation, etc.
that they seem open to.
There is not a ton of bipartisan legislation passed this session here here's the thing.
No one hears about it because the majority is not making a big deal about it, because, you know, they have a mission and that mission right now is messaging for the next election cycle.
The next two years are one big campaign.
And I think, as you look at these committee hearings and you look at the pieces of legislation we are voting on like the parental Bill of Rights last week that we voted on, apparently it gives parents rights, it does not do that at all actually.
It is not even talk about the right of students do not get shot in their classrooms.
If Republicans in Congress cared what is going on in schools, why can't they do something as school shootings to ensure that children have nutrition in schools?
Wouldn't ensure that students have the materials they need so students can learn?
It is a cycle, blame public education on all the problems and then try to privatize the system.
And then we had the shooting, and less than a week after we voted on the parental Bill of Rights.
It is a very horrible irony, there is a lot of work to do.
>> Is there anything that surprised you about being in Congress?
>> Not a ton.
I would say that partisanship is really built into the operation of Congress.
It is not just a thing that has happened.
It is part of the building.
It is part of the way we operate.
I will give you an example.
My orientation, we are only with our Republican colleagues for the morning.
And then is when the classes are going on.
I'm trying to pay attention.
And after that, there is a bunch of other events, and you get split up, and you're not with each other the whole night.
You have to go out of your way to create opportunities, we have the cloak rooms, we sit on separate sides of the aisle.
We caucused separately.
A lot of the caucuses are separated by party, even though there members who might actually be able to join different ones.
Either way, the way partisanship is built into the operation here has been a big surprise for me.
>> And what about generationally?
Do you feel a big divide with with other members, the median age of voting members is I believe 58.
I think the median age of voting age in the Senate is 65.
Do you feel it?
Does it seem like that?
>> I will say there is a generational divide, 100%.
>> How does it play out?
>> a lot of times it is in the little things.
You look at something like the TikTok hearing that just happen.
You listen to a lot of the questions and they are like, stupid questions that if you knew anything about tech and the way that TikTok works, you would not ask it.
Not saying you should not have a hearing on protecting data and privacy but the words people are saying are just like, wild.
It is not just about younger people.
It is about educated people in terms of tech.
And young people are actually much more educated in this space because Gen Z, for instance, the thing that separates our generation for other generations we have been immersed in technology since birth.
That is the defining factor of Gen Z, technology since birth.
Cell phones and Internet since birth.
Because of that we are naturally educated on tech and the Internet because it has been a factor of our lives.
And so, it is part of the reason it is important to have younger people in Congress but not just young people, educated people on these different topics.
>> If you and I were to talk again, I hope we will, by the end of next year, what do you think we will be talking about?
Do you hope there will be something specific we can point to that you can say this is different because I was here?
>> Number one, first and foremost is the work I do back at home, the constituent services.
The way we engage with our community.
I did a community swearing-in in Orlando.
Usually when a congressman is sworn in, it is a small event, maybe a small group of people, some people do bigger things.
We did in the gym of a community center and a neighborhood that needs a lot of help in central Florida.
We had over 1000 people show up, because we knocked on doors days leading up and we were in the community talking about it everything they.
And we had 1100 people come out, that is not normal.
In terms of the progress and change in the way people thing about politicians and politics, we are doing that back at home.
It is not going to get on the news because it is not sexy enough or whatever, but it does not matter -- the speaker of the house or who is in the majority, the work we do at home is paramount.
Especially in the state of Florida where we have a Governor-Elect Ron DeSantis chipping away the hopes and dreams and desires of everybody.
And so it is important that we provide that leadership.
Honestly, in this moment that is the most important thing for me.
>> Before we let you go, the, Florida, there is only things we can talk about.
The fact is, Governor DeSantis was reelected by wider margins than he was first elected.
He seems extremely popular in the state and he seems poised clearly to run for the presidency.
It would seem he would have every incentive to go down the road he is.
I mean, is part of your job right now gumming up the works as opposed to fulfilling your own agenda?
Do you see what I mean?
Is there really anything you can do?
>> A huge part of it is using my office in the way we can to advocate and help people that are going through this.
You know, there is a huge -- it impacted folks being able to actually talk about what is going on in Florida, because there is this, uh, culture of fear right now in the state.
When I see teachers, superintendents, they are scared to speak up because they will literally get fired.
For instance, we had a high school that they have had this event for a long time, years and years, called Dragon donuts and there is a drag queen in central Florida that comes in.
It is not a show, not that there is anything wrong with that, but it is a conversation with the drag queen about the work they do in the community as far as feeding people and Small Business and etc.
So, the state essentially told the school board and told the district they need to shut this down or else they will fire anyone associated with it, teachers, administrators, et cetera.
We have this fascist Florida government that is using, abusing its powers to scare people into submission to doing what they want.
So, that includes, it is difficult for legislators to speak out.
We saw what happened to the state attorney in Hillsborough County where, because he was vocal, he was suspended from office by Ron DeSantis.
Which was unconstitutional.
There's a group a people he cannot touch and it is members of Congress and it's students.
So, that is why we are seeing a lot of students step up and be the voice for what is going on.
And President Biden and the administration needs to do a lot more, the DOJ needs to do a lot more and we need the Attorney General involved and we need the department of education to launch an investigation on what is going on in terms of don't say gay.
We need leadership from that point.
My two things are number one, ensuring people know about it, being vocal, being vocal in the communities, hosting events and rallies so people understand what going on and then also, pushing the levers of power that we do have.
Because you are right, I hold no executive powers.
I don't have any departments that are wrong.
All I have is my influence and my ability to bring the subject to bear at the national level, and so we will do that in big ways.
>> Congressman Maxwell Frost, thank you so much for talking with us today.
>> Thank you so much for having me.