MORRISTOWN – Robert Menendez Jr. says his generation has no trouble understanding gun violence.
“We grew up with (it),” he told a group of millennials Monday evening in Morristown. “We lived through having gun violence in our schools.”
His point was that many young people today may not have experienced actual shootings, but that their schooling included regular “active shooter” drills, which is something to which, say, baby boomers, cannot relate.
Coming on the heels of yet another mass shooting over the weekend in Texas, this was a timely topic indeed.
Menendez said older generations have not solved the problem of gun violence in America and that, inevitably, makes it a challenge for a new generation.
Menendez, who was elected to the House from Hudson County’s 8th district, was not invited to talk specifically about gun violence.
Officially he was one of the featured speakers at a fundraiser for the group, Millennials for New Jersey.
Founded by Matt Anderson of Monmouth County, the group’s website says it is dedicated to recruiting and electing millennial candidates. It does have a Democratic leaning. The host for the event was Mark Gyorfy, who serves on the Morris Township Committee.
Anderson described millennials as those born between 1981 and 1996, which makes them from 27 to 42-years of age today. Menendez at 37 joked that he’s at the geriatric end of the spectrum.
Broadly speaking, Menendez said it’s up to his generation to ensure that the United States continues to be a world leader. He struck a bipartisan note when he urged people not to see each other as adversaries, but as people who want the best for the United States. One hears a lot of that from all sides today, but it doesn’t always happen.
The other headlined speaker at the event in a local brewery was hometown Rep. Mikie Sherrill, who at 51, is not a millennial.
Still, the congresswoman spoke about the impact young people can have, and in some cases, are already having.
“The millennials are this completely new generation,” Sherrill said. “Millennials think about the world very differently.”
Calling them “digital mavens,” she said millennials helped the nation cope with the pandemic through their familiarity with zoom and other technology.
And like Menendez, she touched on some key Democratic issues, crediting the up and coming generation for backing women’s reproductive rights and expressing hope that they will support laws to combat gun violence.