Kelsey Hundley Watts - Press/Digital Assistant for Office of Congressman Maxwell Frost
Gun control activists from Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action gathered in Tallahassee, Florida, today with politicians including Congressman Maxwell Frost (D-FL) to urge the passage of what they call common-sense gun reform during the 2024 legislative session.
The efforts are part of the groups’ annual Advocacy Day, during which time activists meet with lawmakers and advocate for the passage of gun control legislation. Teen Vogue caught up with Frost, the nation’s first Gen Z congressperson, before the start of Advocacy Day to ask him what he’s fighting for, his hopes for Florida’s future and the presidential election, and what he has to say about Florida Governor Ron DeSantis dropping out of the presidential campaign.
Teen Vogue: Why is Advocacy Day necessary?
Maxwell Frost: First and foremost is the fact that every day in this country we lose 100 lives a day due to gun violence. The fact is that in this country… if you are a person who is under age 18 and you were, God forbid, to die, the most likely reason — not disease, it's not a car accident — is [gun violence]....
I believe that that is a failure of our government on all levels, but especially at the state level, where we have a governor who's burying his head in the sand, doesn't want to talk about real ways that we can end gun violence, and, in fact, does everything he can to block any legislation so that way, the gun corporations can make more money off the backs of dead children and dead people.
TV: If you could wave a magic wand, what would your ideal gun control legislation be?
MF: Well, I need a few wands. If I could wave the magic wand, this is what we do: We ban assault weapons, we ban high-capacity magazines. Then we also ensure that we have universal background checks to make sure that guns are not getting into the wrong hands. Not only that, but we pass safe-storage laws and extended waiting-day periods. Safe-storage laws and waiting-day periods.
We have to realize that we need to create a world where people don't feel the need to use a gun to solve their problems. Gun regulation is a big part of this. But we could pass all the gun regulations in the world, we are still a country that has more guns than people and more guns than any other country in the world.
So what are we going to do about the conditions that push people to use that gun to get ahead? That's why we need universal health care. That's why we need to defeat the climate crisis. That's why we need to ensure that one job is enough [for people], that we get rent down, quality of living [up]…. That’s a big part of ending gun violence.
TV: Do you have any predictions about the outcome of the 2024 election?
MF: I believe the president's going to be reelected. I believe we're going to take back the House. I believe the Senate's a little dicey — it's one of the hardest maps in recent history for Democrats. But I think if we stay on message and we do our job, we can win there too.
But it's tough. What we have to focus on is talking about what people care about. We need to talk about what we did. But more importantly, we need to talk about what we're going to do for the next four years.
TV: I have to ask: What do you think of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis dropping out of the presidential race?
MF: Well, we all knew it was going to happen, right? We all knew he was never going to win over the last few months.
And… it’s funny. I trolled him on Twitter, of course. It's just funny because he has spent his career, especially as a governor, picking on marginalized communities and acting like he's standing up for people when he's actually fighting against them. So it's just funny to see him fail, to be quite honest.
But taking a step back from the pettiness, he's still the governor, and he's still doing very negative things here in the state of Florida. So even though the nation might be laughing and people think it's a little funny, et cetera, we still have to deal with him here, and he still poses a serious threat to our civil rights, civil liberties, our opportunity, and our means.
I think it's telling. He spent the last few months talking about how Donald Trump can't become president, and then he dropped out. And what's the first thing he did? Endorsed Donald Trump. It just shows you where his allegiance lies. He's a MAGA, far-right extremist.
TV: If you could say something to DeSantis, what would it be?
MF: I would tell him to resign. I would say… “Here, you have two options. Either actually focus on issues that are going to impact us and let's pass the legislation that's going to help people” — but I don't think he's going to do that — and if you're not going to do that, then you need to resign and step down, because our people are suffering.
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Originally Appeared on Teen Vogue