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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 5/27/22

Guests: Doug Swimmer, Lucas Kunce; Anthony Brown, Maxwell Alejandro Frost


The Texas Department of Public Safety admits wrong decision in their response to the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School. There was a large gap in time of the police response to the incident. Police Response to Texas mass shooting under scrutiny. New polling conducted after the massacre in Uvalde found that 65 percent of Americans support stricter gun control laws.


AYMAN MOHYELDIN, MSNBC HOST: And yet here we are again in the wake of another tragedy. That student-led organization "March for Our Lives" plans to take to the streets for another rally. June 11th, those kids already have a proven track record, and I for one would not bet against them this time either. Stay tuned for June 11th.

That does it for me tonight. I`ll see you tomorrow night at 8:00 eastern on "Ayman." Tomorrow I will talk with Senator Sheldon Whitehouse about how special interests are stopping the Senate from passing gun reform. Now it`s time for THE LAST WORD with Jonathan Capehart filling in for Lawrence. Good evening, Jonathan.

JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Ayman. And I, like you, share your optimism that this upcoming "March for Our Lives" will, you know, push things forward. We`re actually going to have one of -- the national organizing director of that first "March for Our Lives," Maxwell Frost, later on in the show. So, I look forward to hearing what he says. Ayman, have a good weekend.

MOHYELDIN: Thank you, my friend. We`ll be watching.

CAPEHART: Alright. It was the wrong decision. That`s what the top law enforcement official in Texas admitted today as outrage grows over why it took police so long to stop the gunman at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. That gap and police intervention is even more glaring, after we learned new details about the timeline today.

Minutes after the gunman crashed his vehicle, he was already firing shots outside at the school. A school resource officer, who was not on the school grounds, heard the 9-1-1 call and responded, but actually drove past the shooter, according to officials.

At 11:33 a.m., the shooter enters the school and fires more than 100 rounds in four minutes. Two minutes after that, three officers arrived, and entered the school exchanging gunfire with the shooter. By 12:03 pm, as many as 19 officers are in a hallway inside the school at the same time one student calls 9-1-1 and whispers that she is in room 112.

By 12:15 pm, Border Patrol`s tactical unit has arrived. Two federal law enforcement officials tell NBC News that local police instructed them to wait and not to go in after the gunman. After 30 minutes, federal agents overruled that guidance and went in to take down the shooter. After Border Patrol arrived and was told to wait, that same student calls 9-1-1 again and says there are 8 to 9 of her classmates, still alive.

At 12:21 p.m., another student in room 111, calls 9-1-1. Gunfire can be heard on that call as law enforcement moves down the hallway. At approximately 12:43, an hour after the shooter entered the school, the student asks the 9-1-1 dispatcher to, quote, "Please send the police now."

But it`s not until 12:50, 5-0 p.m., that law enforcement gets the key, the key from the janitor, and breaches the door. Today, Steven McGraw, the head of the Texas Department of Safety said the decision by the unseen commander to wait was a mistake.


STEVEN MCGRAW, DIRECTOR, TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY: It wasn`t simply this. There was a 40-minute gap. And if the 9-1-1 operators were aware that the children were alive in that classroom, why weren`t officers notified of that? And if that`s the case, why didn`t they take action? That`s the question.

A decision was made that this was a barricaded subject situation. There was time to retrieve the keys and wait for a tactical team with the equipment to go ahead and breach the door and take on the subject at that point.

The benefit in hindsight of where I`m sitting now, of course, it wasn`t the right decision. It was the wrong decisions, period. There is no excuse for that.


CAPEHART: It took one hour and 17 minutes from the time the shooter entered the school until the door is breached. Parents were reportedly frantically yelling at police to go inside and help their children, some even wanting to go in themselves. And during that time, multiple calls by frightened students were made to 9-1-1 from inside the school.

How many children could have been saved in that time? And now we`re learning more about with the survivors of the shooting endured including Miah Cerrillo, who covered herself in her dying classmate`s blood and pretended to be dead.


She told the reporter that the gunman made eye contact with her teacher as he backed her into their classroom saying, quote, "Goodnight," before he shot her.

Miah described how the gunman started playing sad music that sounded like, quote, I want people to die music. Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott today, said he was, quote, livid, about being, quote, misled, about the police response. But that`s little comfort to a grieving community left wondering whether those mistakes cost children`s lives.

Joining us now from Uvalde, Texas is MSNBC`s Yasmin Vossoughian. Yasmin, after today`s jaw-dropping admission of failure by officials, how are people reacting there in Uvalde?

YASMIN VOSSOUGHIAN, MSNBC HOST: Angry. Frustrated. Sad. I think no matter what comes out of this police department here, local police department, federal agents as well, any of the new details that will emerge, accountability, admission of fault, admission that they should have gone in earlier, whatever comes after today, it won`t matter.

Because leading up to today, there have been so many missteps in the details that they have provided, and then now learning about this essential one hour, really, and 20-minute gap from the time of which this shooter entered that school behind me, to the time to which he was neutralized.

There were students inside that we`re alive in those classrooms, repeatedly making those phone calls, Jonathan, and you walked through it, right. 12:03 was the first call that came in from room 112. There were subsequent calls following that, 12:10, 12:16, from room 111 as well. There were students calling 9-1-1. The first 9-1-1 call, Jonathan, came in at 11:30, saying a crash has happened near the school and there is a man that is armed.

And he shot at two individuals that were working at a funeral home that ran to the crash site when they saw the truck crashing into the ditch behind the schools. Just three blocks away from here. It took him five minutes to make his way to the school, to which he started unleashing fire outside the school grounds.

School resource officers, nowhere to be found. I asked the press conference earlier today, where was the school resource officer? He was off campus. He was not here. He was driving elsewhere. As he learned of the active shooter on campus, he quickly made, and this is their words, made his way to the school, bypassing the shooter who is crouching in a bush area, shooting at the school, and thought a teacher was the shooter. Thought a teacher was the one who was armed, as he saw that individual outside that school.

It was not the teacher. He bypassed the shooter at that point. You mention the fact the shooter made his way into the school around 11:32, I believe it was. Followed by seven officers, seven. Thirty minutes later, 19 were inside the school, 30 minutes later. And it wasn`t until 12:50 that they were able to neutralize the shooter.

You had Bortac, you had DHS between 12:00 and 12:15 (inaudible) as you mentioned, arriving on the scene and told by local police to stand down. DHS, at that point, was instructed to remove students from windowed areas, windowed classrooms. You had Bortac standing on the scene, with everything, all of the tactical materials that they need in hand, to fight the shooter, and they were told to stand down for 30 minutes until they decide to override what they are being told by local officials and to neutralize the shooter.

This community is up in arms. They are angry. They are sad. But here`s the worst part, Jonathan. They are not surprised. And I think that`s a question we need to ask going forward as well, is they are not surprised by the response of local police. This community is not surprised by that, because of the history they have had with these police as well.

CAPEHART: Yasmin, we`ve known each other a long time. I`ve never seen you like this, and what you`ve told us this evening explains why. It is inexplicable, this story that we are all covering and that you are covering from the ground. I am -- I am speechless. And Yasmin, I`m going to let you go, before I`m not able to go any further in this show.


CAPEHART: It is so hard. It`s bad enough to see babies killed. Well, children killed. But to hear the negligence of the adults they depended on for their safety, is hard to take.


And that school resource officer, driving past, I would like to hear that person`s explanation for why they weren`t on their post. It`s the whole point of the job, is to be there to protect those kids and they weren`t there. Yasmin Vossoughian, thank you.

VOSSOUGHIAN: Jonathan, let me -- let me tell you --


VOSSOUGHIAN: -- let me tell you one more thing. I spoke to the older brother of a little boy named is Xavier who lost his life in room 111, 10- year-old boy, love to dance, love to Stanley (ph), love to take care of his little girlfriend, Annabell who lost her life as well. A call came in from room 111 at 12:16, a 9-1-1 call. Xavier was in room 111. His brother wonders had their reacted, had they`ve gone in, would Xavier be alive today? Would his girlfriend Annabell be alive today?

It is that personal. It is that immediate. And it is those questions that need to be answered for these families that have lost everything and lost their future. These kids, these babies that they brought into this world.

CAPEHART: Yasmin Vossoughian, coming to us live from Uvalde, Texas. Thank you very much for that just heartbreaking report.

Joining us now, Jim Cavanaugh, retired ATF special agent-in-charge and an MSNBC terrorism analyst. And Frank Figliuzzi who served as FBI assistant director of counter intelligence. He`s an MSNBC national security analyst.

Jim, you need to explain something to us. This active shooter versus barricaded subject, that`s the call of the unseen commander made that caused the delay in police breaching the door. How big of a mistake was this? Am I wrong in thinking that this was -- like big doesn`t even begin to describe this mistake?

JIM CAVANAUGH, MSNBC TERRORISM ANALYST: No, I agree with you. I think it`s a huge mistake in time in entering the room. I think people get the semantics mixed up. They confuse active shooter training and hostage barricade issues. Let me try to clear it up a little bit. It`s an active shooter situation. The training is you move quickly when you first get three or five officers with long guns to move toward the shooter to eliminate him.

What was the initial delays? They ran into the breach point which the doors are locked in the classroom. And it`s a problem across America that patrol officers, Jonathan, or not caring breaching tools. That`s another issue, but it`s prevalent everywhere. They don`t have breaching equipment.

But anyway, they reach the breach point. They do have a hostage barricade then. It is not determined by the police. It`s determined by the killer. He has live people locked in a room. He`s keeping the police out with his rifle. That`s a hostage barricade. But the decision, it`s occurring inside an active shooter scenario. The decision by the unseen commander has to be that he knows there is wounded and probably wounded even if he doesn`t actually know, inside that room who are bleeding.

And so, time switches to not being on his side. Time is neutral in an attack collaboration like this, but it goes against you, it goes for you, it goes back and forth. And the on-scene commander has to realize which way it`s tipping on him. And it`s tipped against him because wounded are bleeding out.

So, what he has to do because the active shooter training is not going to get him through that wall or that door. That doesn`t work that way. He now has to breach it with a tactic technique that`s used by all SWAT and tactical teams called an emergency assault.

So, what he has to do is quickly form his stack. He has two doors, two classrooms to get in. And as I would do it, I would send two long riflemen around the back, to the window. I`d get them on the radio and I`d have one of those long riflemen shoot in to the -- at the attacker, at the killer. One shot only. And we would initiate the assault on that shot, called a sniper initiated emergency assault.

The reason that has to happen that way is a can kill 30 people in the room in 30 seconds with the gun he has. He can kill 30 people in 30 seconds. So, you can`t just say, oh, you know, they shouldn`t went in. They can bang on the door. They can, you know, pry the door with a screwdriver, no. He`s just going to kill everyone in there. You`re just going to result in their death.

So, you have to take a few minutes, hesitate, set up an emergency assault like I described. I would setup a sniper initiated, but the sniper may miss. The sniper may wound him, the sniper may kill him. But even on that shot, the action happens and you can beat him from killing the children.

So, the on-scene commander was not wrong to hesitate, you know, using the vernacular of a hostage barricade. There`s nothing evil about that. It did flip to that, that he was barricaded against there.


They needed to breach. What was amazing to me, Jonathan, the chief of the independent school district police doesn`t have a key to the classroom. There are only six officers on his force and he doesn`t have a key to the classroom. That`s crazy. And they should`ve went in there. Bortac is there 12:15, they should`ve went in there within 10 minutes of that.

CAPEHART: Jim, let me stick with you just on that because I was just about to ask you what did you -- why did it still take a key from the janitor to open the door?

CAVANAUGH: Yes, it`s not insightful at all. First of all, patrol officers across the country need to have shotgun breaching rounds. They need to have some of these Halligan tools, small hydraulic tools carried in the backpack. They need to be able to get indoors. If they don`t have those, they need to have the first hook and ladder that`s three minutes away on the scene, those truck company guys and get through any doors.

You may be in a situation where you don`t have the keys or can`t get the keys. That can`t stop you. You got to breach. You got to get in there, you got to move fast. This called for an immediate emergency assault. Now, that doesn`t set up in three seconds. It`s going to take a little bit of coordination, a few minutes to stack that up. But the commanders got to have on his mind there`s people bleeding out in there and that`s my time to restraint. Set the assault because you got to be his trigger finger on 30 seconds.

So, I hear a lot of talk, oh, it`s just an active shooter, you just got to go in. Well, I don`t know how you go into a brick wall. I don`t know how you go into a door if you don`t have breaching equipment or you don`t have the key.

So, you`ve got to get that stuff first, and then you`ve got a launch your emergency assault. So, that`s the only way it could`ve, it should`ve worked. That extra 30 minute it took, probably led some of those children bleed to death.

CAPEHART: Frank, let me bring you in this and get your view on all of this. But in particular, you know, the commanding officer on the scene was the chief of police for the school district. Why didn`t someone with more experience take charge? Was that even possible?

FRANK FIGLIUZZI, MSNBC NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, I think the theme that we`ve got going with Jim here is that what should have been a hiccup under ideal circumstances, turned into a horror show. By that, I mean, Jim and I have both seen elite, highly trained SWAT teams treat this as a speed bump, not as a half an hour or an hour delay. By that, I mean we`ve got to understand that perhaps the wrong person what about on-site commander.

Again, as Jim said, someone who leads a six-man school police department is unlikely to be the most qualified person in the area to lead an ongoing mass casualty event, number one. Number two, Jim touched on this. Why do I think it should`ve been just a hiccup that he`s locked himself in and is firing? Because I`ve seen SWAT teams defeat this when they show up quickly and are fully equipped.

Shields, Kevlar, ceramic plates to protect their bodies, helmets to protect their heads, snipers, all the breaching tools right there with them. The key, the master key to the school is in hand. None of this happened. And if there is anything that we can take away from this, if there is anybody viewing us tonight, Jonathan, that is part of a school board, police leadership, concerned parent, you name it.

After this holiday weekend, convene a meeting. I don`t care if you are in Kansas or Connecticut, and start going through this. Where are breaching equipment? Who`s the on-scene commander of a school event? Let`s get that out right now. And don`t worry about turf or jurisdiction. Who is the most qualified? What SWAT team is going to handle this and get their first and most trained?

Where are the keys? Is it the fire department? Go through this. You may think you`ve got all the solutions? You may think you`ve exercised this, as happened in Uvalde. But when it happens, are you ready? The time to plan for that is right after the holiday.

CAPEHART: It is absolutely appalling that we even have to have this conversation for grade schools. Frank Figliuzzi, Jim Cavanaugh, thank you both very much for joining us tonight. We`ve got to go.

Coming up, the families in Uvalde our grieving their murder while wondering if their own police force could have done more to save them. We will talk to a local pastor in Uvalde about how families and the community are coping.

And tonight, after this program, Stephanie Ruhle will host a special hour on Americas gun violence epidemic. "Enough is Enough" will air at 11:00 p.m. eastern right here on MSNBC.



CAPEHART: If you want to understand how unrelenting the gun violence problem is in America, consider this. We haven`t even buried all the victims of our most recent massacre before Uvalde. Vice President Kamala Harris and the Second Gentleman will travel to Buffalo, New York on Saturday to join the family of 86-year-old Ruth Whitfield who was one of 10 people murdered by a white-supremacist extremist at her local supermarket two weeks ago.

President Joe Biden will visit Uvalde on Sunday to mourn with the families of 19 children and two teachers who were killed just 10 days later.


Parents who have to select caskets and plan funerals for their children, children who should be starting their summer vacations today. Children who had to be identified with DNA because that`s when an AR-15 does to a small human body. And families are facing this reality alongside the unfathomable question, could more have been done?

Joining us now is Pastor Doug Swimmer of the nondenominational Potters House Church of Uvalde. Pastor, thank you very much for being here this evening. You`ve spoken to some of the families. There is so many emotions, shock, grief, anger, tell us about that.

DOUG SWIMMER, PASTOR, POTTER`S HOUSE CHURCH: Well, it`s an ongoing struggle with just dealing with the emotions. And the families that I visited and what to give them and what to share with them as a pastor is one that I want to express is hope and love.

And also, that you know, we see the anger in the community. We see the frustration and confusion. And the people do want answers. They want answers to the question why. And so, you know, as a pastor, you know, you try to help them along with that. Sometimes it`s just being there for them and with them that brings them more comfort than anything. So, we`re just, you know, praying with these families and helping them along.

CAPEHART: Pastor, you must talk to families with kids in the school system. What are they feeling and expressing?

SWIMMER: Fear and frustration and confusion. These families that have -- are struggling through this and they`re looking for the answers. All they want is answers. That`s all we want in our community, is the answers. And so, you know, with all of this that`s coming out, the latest information that has been coming out about everything, you know, it brings a frustration and unsettling throughout the community.

But I know this, talking to some of the families today as I went and visit one house today. As I knocked on the door, she opened it up, she was so thankful that we came to her house and just -- and I prayed with them and begin just to administer to them and just to help them in their -- in that moment.

Because sometimes, it`s moment by moment for us here in Uvalde just to get through these situations and all the information that`s coming in and that brings the frustration. And so, you know, these kids that are having to deal with the tragedy of all of this, they have to live through this.

And, you know, to give them the answer of hope, that`s why I`m in this community. I`ve been here over, you know, 15 years at the Potter`s House Christian Fellowship Church. And we`re here to give them hope, and through all of this, Uvalde is Uvalde strong. We`ll get through this and we`ll, you know, fight through everything that has happened.

CAPEHART: Pastor Doug Swimmer, we are very sorry for your community. I want to thank you very much for joining us tonight.

SWIMMER: Thank you.

CAPEHART: Coming up, children wearing the photos of the Uvalde victims stood outside the NRA`s celebration of deadly weapons today where Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and other Republicans laid out their response to mass murders in America, more guns. That`s next.




SENATOR TED CRUZ (R-TX): Ultimately, as we all know, what stops armed bad guys is armed good guys.


CAPEHART: Unless they are not on the school premises, but anyway, that was Texas Senator Ted Cruz parroting the Republican fantasy that has been thoroughly and completely debunked by what happened at Robb Elementary School Tuesday when 19 children and two teachers were shot to death by an 18-year-old with an AR-15 and 315 bullets in the school with him with plenty of armed police officers on scene.

Texas Senator John Cornyn and Congressman Dan Crenshaw skipped it. Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick backed out as well issuing a statement saying he quote, "would not want my appearance today to bring any additional pain or grief to the families and all those suffering in Uvalde."

But if guns aren`t the problem, why would attending a gun celebration cause anyone additional pain or grief?


Donald Trump, of course, never questioned going. And he took a swipe at Texas Republican Governor Gregg Abbott, who spent time today in Uvalde where children were just massacred.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Unlike some, I didn`t disappoint you by not showing up.

In addition, classroom doors should be hardened to make them lockable from the inside and closed to intruders from the outside. Surely, we can all agree our schools should not be the softest target. Our schools should be the single, hardest target in our country.


CAPEHART: For as ignorant as Trump obviously is, his comments and Senator Cruz`s are actually pretty reflective of how incoherent the Republicans` "blame everything but the guns" mantra is.

Outside the convention hall, the message from the hundreds of protesters who showed up was clear.


PEOPLE: Shame on you.


PEOPLE: Shame on you.

Shame on you.

Shame on you.


CAPEHART: Joining us now from Houston, Texas is NBC News senior investigative reporter, Mike Hixenbaugh. Mike, I`m so glad we have you on tonight, Mike, because we often just get a sanitized version of what actually happens inside the schools during these types of events. But you actually spoke to a teacher who was in that school listening to those children as they screamed for their lives.

Good Lord, Mike. Tell us what she told you.

MIKE HIXENBAUGH, NBC NEWS SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Yes, I spoke with a teacher, you know, just over 24 hours after the shooting. I stood on her front porch, and she described for me hearing the gunshots and knowing right away what that meant. And running and locking her door, getting kids under their desks, urging them to be quiet, begging them to be quiet.

And then sitting on the floor in the center of the room, the center of them, some of them cried. And just waited for what she described as the longest 35 minutes of her life, as they could hear children down the hall wailing.

And she just told her kids to pray until officers finally came and broke up the glass. And she was able to help each of her kids out.

CAPEHART: There is nothing more painful than hearing a terrified child scream, but to know that they are screaming because there is a murderer in the classroom is just -- it`s beyond.

Mike, the teacher that you spoke to, she made sure to make this point before your interview ended. She told you and I want to quote, "I want you to say this in your article. Our children did not deserve this. They were loved. Not only by their families, but by their family at school."

Mike, why was it important -- so important for her to make that point?

HIXENBUGH: In a year when teachers across the country are being accused by some of the people you just played at the NRA conference of wanting to harm children by indoctrinating them, by teaching white children to hate themselves -- in a year when teachers have become vilified, she wanted the world to know that she did everything she could to protect those kids because she loves them like they are her own kids.

And she really wanted me to share that message with anyone who will listen.

CAPEHART: Mike, I have to go, but real quickly, how are you doing? This is not an easy story.

HIXENBAUGH: I am ok. I`m home. I`m back home with my four kids. And I am going to take some time off just to rest and hug them.

CAPEHART: Mike Hixenbaugh, thank you very much.


CAPEHART: Oh God. The NRA would have you believe that they speak for half of America and certainly, for every gun owner. This is not true. For half of the United States Senate, sure. For the entire Republican Congressional delegation, sure.

But new polling conducted after the massacre in Uvalde found that 65 percent of Americans support stricter gun control laws.

Here is a letter to the editor from the "Kansas City Star" in red state Missouri. Jeffrey from Overland Park writes, "I am a gun owner. I believe in the right to bear arms. Our Second Amendment calls for a well-regulated militia. Well, where on earth are the regulations?

It is unconscionable that an 18-year-old can walk into a store and purchase not one, but two assault rifles with virtually no checks in place."


Joe Manchin says this time feels different because he has grandchildren. Prove it. Susan Collins and Mitt Romney want to do something. Then do it.

Let`s have a vote and get every senator on the record. And then after that, it`s up to us the voters to decide what we will do.

Joining us now is the man who wants to represent the people who wrote those letters in the United States Senate. Lucas Kunce is a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate from Missouri and U.S. Marine veteran. Lucas, thank you very much for being here.

Let me first get your reaction to what happened this week. You are a father. You`ve got two kids who aren`t much younger than the kids who were tragically murdered in that school. How does that make you feel?

LUCAS KUNCE (D), MISSOURI SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: It makes me feel terrible. And listening to Mike talk, it just brings it all back.

You know, when I deployed to Afghanistan, the people who sent us there, they told us that we were there to keep terrorism at bay. They told us we were there to keep our homes, our families, our children safe, so that only terrorists would be overseas.

And now, those same people, because they`re unwilling or unable to act in Washington, are telling me that despite those deployments, I have to come back here, where my kids are doing shooting drills at school. I have to come back, I have to look my six year old and my eight year old in the eye, and I have to tell them that it didn`t work. That their school may become a war zone at anytime. It`s absolutely insane.

CAPEHART: I mean that`s an excellent point you made, Lucas, about being sent overseas to keep the terrorists over there, so they don`t harm us here. And we`re being terrorized by mass shooting after mass shooting.

As a Marine veteran and a gun owner, what goes through your head, when you hear some of the details about what this shooter`s -- the AR-15, a literal weapon of war. He was able to get this gun and was able to do what he did to innocent children. Why would an 18-year-old need a gun like that?

KUNCE: It`s absolutely terrible. You know, when 18-year-olds -- look, we`re used to 18-year-olds getting assault rifles in the Marine Corps, right? It happens every single day, and you just don`t hand an 18 year old an assault rifle and a pile of ammo and tell him to figure it out or to do whatever he wants to do with it.

You make sure they go through training. You make sure they go through observation. That it goes through all sorts of stuff to make sure that they`re able to safely handle that weapon, and not do anything bad with it.

It`s unbelievable that we can just roll out here, without even comprehensive background checks in this country. You know, you talk about what people in Missouri want.

People in Missouri, they want the exact same thing that people around this country want. Republicans, Democrats, Independents, gun owners, and non gun owners, they all want comprehensive background checks, red flag laws, ways to make sure that these weapons, weapons of war, stay out of the hands of criminals and terrorists.

CAPEHART: That`s an excellent way to end this interview. Lucas Kunce, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

KUNCE: Absolutely.

CAPEHART: Coming up, do you think a teenager who isn`t allowed to drink should be able to buy any weapon of war with basically no impediment? Neither does most of America. And we could do something about it, immediately.

That`s next.




JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The idea that an 18-year-old kid can walk into a gun store and buy two assault weapons is just wrong.


CAPEHART: 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde were killed by weapons their killer bought for his 18th birthday. According to the Giffords Law Center only six states -- Florida, Washington, Vermont, California, Illinois and Hawaii, have increased the minimum age to purchase assault rifles from 18 to 21 years old.

In a new Reuters/Ipsos poll, 72 percent said they would support raising the age to buy a gun from 18 to 21.

Joining us now, Democratic Congressman Anthony Brown of Maryland. He`s a 30 year army veteran and the vice chair of the house armed services committee. Congressman, great to see you.

Let`s listen to what Governor Gregg Abbott had to say when asked today if he would consider imposing a ban on 18-year-olds buying assault rifles.


GOVERNOR GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): For a century and a half, 18-year-olds could buy rifles. And we didn`t have school shootings, but we do now. Maybe we are focusing our attention on the wrong thing.


CAPEHART: Congressman, your reaction to the governor?

REP. ANTHONY BROWN (D-MD): He couldn`t be more wrong. I mean as you mentioned, you know, 72 plus percent of Americans support raising the age to buy a semi-automatic rifles -- this is an assault weapon -- to 21. Already, federal law requires you to be 21 to buy a handgun.

Look, I was a soldier for 30 years. I went to Iraq. I know the damage the destruction of this semi-automatic rifles. We don`t need them in our neighborhoods, in our communities -- period. That`s why states like Maryland have banned them altogether.


But if we can`t ban assault weapons, it`s certainly reasonable to raise the age to 21, the same age that we have for a hand gun. We know that one in every eight mass shootings includes an 18 to 20 year old. We also know that more than 60 percent of mass shootings include assault rifles.

So, it only makes sense -- it doesn`t solve everything, but it`s an important piece of the puzzle if hat we are going to solve this mass shooting, taking of lives, 31 in the last ten days in Buffalo and Uvalde, both by shooters under 21, 18 years old, with semi automatic rifles. We need to be urgent, and Congress has to act with a sense of urgency.

CAPEHART: But Congressman, according to the new Reuters/Ipsos poll, 49 percent said they were not confident that lawmakers would strengthen gun laws this year. Only 35 percent said they were confident. After two mass shootings in ten days, do you think anything will be different this time?

BROWN: Look, what I think is that Congress has to come back to Washington. And we need to do our level best to raise the age to 21, for semi-automatic rifles, assault weapons. We have to pass a red flag law, a national standard. And we have to pass universal background checks.

Now, we`ve done the background checks and the red flag law, we`ve already gotten those out of the House in the past. We`ve got to come back. We`ve got to work with the Senate, to make sure that they get it done.

Look, am I confident -- look, if history is any indication of what to expect in the next few months, I`m not optimistic. But I`ll tell you right now, as a public official who is elected to fight for people, to fight for safe neighborhoods, I`m going back to Washington intent, hell-bent on making sure I do everything I can with my colleagues to pass meaningful, gun safety regulation.

CAPEHART: Congressman Anthony Brown of Maryland, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

BROWN: Thank you, Jonathan.

CAPEHART: Coming up, change is coming. It might not happen this time, but today`s survivors of mass shootings, today`s school children, being locked down -- doing lockdown drills, are tomorrow`s voters and lawmakers. We will meet one of them, next.




REP. TONY GONZALES (R-TX): This isn`t a one-off, you know, this happened out of the blue. This is an issue. It`s a growing issue. You know, I`ve got six children. My children are going up in a world much different than you and I grew up in. And we`ve got to be aware of that.


CAPEHART: Since the Columbine massacre in 1999, there have been more than 300 school shootings across the United States. The current generation has never known school to be a completely safe place. They`ve grown up with school shootings, lockdown drills, and protesting school violence. And today`s school kids will be tomorrow`s elected officials.

Joining us now is Maxwell Alejandro Frost, Democratic candidate for Congress, representing Florida`s 10th district. He`s a former organizing director for the group, March For Our Lives.

Maxwell, I sort of hesitate to say great to see you again. But we have met on my Sunday show, and so it is good to see you.

Maxwell, after the murder of 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, what legislation would you push for in Congress, to try to prevent these mass murders in school from happening?

MAXWELL ALEJANDRO FROST (D), FLORIDA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: There is a lot of different legislation we need to pass. First, we need to get something done that can make a huge difference that the majority of Americans, gun owners included, are for and that is universal background checks.

We need -- you know, we saw today folks advocating and protesting in Texas. And that`s the type of advocacy we need. You know, I got involved in this fight at 15 years old, after Sandy Hook. It`s been ten years.

People are fed up, and they want to see action. And this time will be different, because it has to be. Every day we lose 100 lives, so I would say, universal background checks.

CAPEHART: The Associated Press interviewed an Ohio teacher who spoke with her sixth graders the day after the Uvalde mass murder. She told AP, quote, "Some students said they were sad. Some were dismayed the 19 slain children were so young. After a few minutes, though, the conversation fizzled. Students were ready to move on with their day."

Maxwell, what would you say to students who have grown up with the reality of school shootings, who are seemingly numb to these tragedies?

FROST: What I would say is we cannot allow ourselves to become numb. Like I said, every day, we lose 100 people. And it`s easy when we turn on the news, and we see these tragedies every day, to become numb. But recognize that behind every number, there is a beautiful human being, someone with loved ones and families and stories.

And so, that`s why this time it has to be different and why we have to continue to fight. People are tired of the violence. We deserve the right to live here free of the fear of being gunned down. We deserve that by virtue of being human beings.

And my generation is going to make sure that this stops in our lifetime and we`re going to continue to fight no matter what.

CAPEHART: You know, your generation is what gives me hope, especially with the March For Our Lives. And I am just wondering, do the protests that we saw outside the NRA convention, do they give you hope that maybe this time, things will change?

FROST: They 100 percent give me hope, Jonathan. These are folks that are mourning. In the midst of this mourning they said that we need to go out to demand that we need a change in our country right now. We are tired of the violence. And we want to live in a world where we can live free of gun violence.

And people are here to do that work right now. It gives me incredible amount of hope. We`re going to see marches all across the country. and we`re going to continue to ensure that we keep this fight alive and don`t become numb to it.


CAPEHART: Maxwell Alejandro Frost, thank you very much for coming to THE LAST WORD.

And that is tonight`s LAST WORD.

I`m Jonathan Capehart. I will see you on "THE SUNDAY SHOW", Sunday morning at 10:00 a.m. Eastern right here on MSNBC.

A special hour on America`s epidemic of gun violence, "ENOUGH IS ENOUGH WITH STEPHANIE RUHLE" starts right now.