BSG's CEO on the Tragedy in Buffalo

The following is a note Joel Benenson shared with the BSG team employees about the horrific acts of violence and murder that are stealing innocent lives...



The news from Buffalo over the weekend was as infuriating as it was heartbreaking. Ten more lives lost because of one 18-year-old’s hatred, racism, and senseless act of violence. Fueled by bigotry, he carried out one of the deadliest massacres in recent U.S. history.


People who know Payton Gendron have said they heard his racist-laden talk and intentions to carry out a mass shooting. He talked about it. His social media channels were filled with his hate and violent rhetoric. Medical professionals evaluated him.


Yet Gendron was still able to buy a gun.


He drove nearly 200 miles from his home to a neighborhood where he knew there was a large Black community. He set out with one intention– to murder innocent Black Americans doing their weekly grocery shopping.


Years ago, there was a TV campaign to encourage people to speak up they suspected someone was about to commit a crime, even non-violent crimes. Its simple tag line was: “If you see something, say something.” I know this can still be seen on billboards and posters in cities across the country today. As members of our communities, we must be aware that there are people like him in our midst. We cannot casually dismiss hateful speech and violent threats. We must say something and find ways to make our voices heard so the right authorities can intervene.


As I was preparing this note, another shooting occurred at a Taiwanese church in Laguna Woods, California, leaving one churchgoer dead and five others wounded. [*Update as of Monday night: Police are saying that this was a politically motivated hate incident.]

We’ve learned that a small group of those in the church intervened, tied up the shooter’s legs and wrestled two guns from him in an extraordinary act of bravery and heroism. I don’t believe anyone truly knows how they might act in such a dangerous, threatening situation. But we all have the power to say something.


I hope that as we have in the past, we will seize any opportunity to work on the side of those who want to create common sense gun laws in this country and work with those who are determined to make sure guns are kept out of the hands of those who have no business having them.


While I am filled with immense sadness at the tragedies of this weekend, I am not the least bit deterred from the fight to get common sense gun laws in our country.


Since I’ve sent this note, I’ve had many conversations with others, inside and outside of our firm. It would be too easy for us to chalk this weekend’s events up to one or two hateful, deranged individual(s). We know that’s not true. And some will say Gendron’s racist, antisemitic bigotry stands alone. It does not.


We have witnessed massacres in everyday places where people go as they live their ordinary lives because of gun laws that are too weak. In this country, we are long overdue in passing common sense gun laws that make it harder and more difficult for people who should never have a firearm in their possession to slaughter innocent Americans.


Joel Benenson, CEO & Co-Founder