Letter to the Editor: Students Are the Key to Gun Reform


Melvin A. Benarde Ph.D., Special to the Torch

Dear Editor:


As a retired academic I wholeheartedly support the nascent #NeverAgain Movement! I’m an old guy, but still ready for a good fight. These mass killings must stop.

What’s needed now is a ban on military-style weapons, AR 15s and AK 47s along with high capacity magazines; denying guns to the mentally challenged; background checks on those purchasing guns and raising the age for gun purchases to 21. These are hardly impositions on gun enthusiasts and hunters, and don’t infringe on anyone’s Second Amendment rights.

These modifications can best be accomplished by voting, and only voting. The millions of university, college and high school students across the country must register to vote, then turn out to vote in the November elections.

University students have traditionally left voting to others. That must change. The huge number of university students hold the key to unlock Congress’ silence and shameful inaction on passing gun-safety legislation. You all must literally turn out in huge numbers to overcome the Republican gerrymandering that has guaranteed gun-safety obstructionist legislators seats in the House and Senate (and local legislatures as well).

It’s vital that silent obstructionist legislators who ignore the will of the people in favor of the intractable gun lobby be replaced by sensible people who do not genuflect at the knees of the NRA.

Consequently, voting is essential as it is the only way to rid the country of the undue influence of the NRA and the current crop of Republican members of both Houses of Congress who prefer NRA dollars to the safety of our children.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has taken $820,375 from the NRA; Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, accepted only $61,401, while his Wisconsin neighbor, Senator Ron Johnson, took home over a million.

Even Representative Steve Scalise (R-LA), himself a recent gunshot victim who received $36,210 from the NRA, has been an opponent of sensible gun regulations.  

Senator Marco Rubio told students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, Florida, that he’d try to help them, but has repeatedly voted against gun control measures and pocketed more than a million NRA dollars. What are these elected officials thinking when they take this black money and vote against any type of gun control? Are kids just collateral damage?

SJU students have friends at schools across the country. You need to contact them, setting in motion a campaign that will spread, motivating hundreds of thousands students to vote in November.

It’s critical that these NRA-enthralled Republicans standing for re-election be roundly defeated and replaced by those with no attachment to the NRA or similar organizations that value corporate profits over children.

Again, only voting will ensure it. The time for “thoughts and prayers,” inaction and empty promises are over. The current system has failed us — especially elementary and high school students.  You — and thousands like you — can remedy this with your votes. Our broken system can be fixed.

Parkland must not occur again. Your votes will make the difference!



Melvin A. Benarde, Ph.D.

Princeton, New Jersey

Former Graduate of SJU