The kid reporter whose question about guns and school safety caused the White House press secretary to choke up says he saw the moment as his chance to “hopefully make a difference.”
Benje, 13, a seventh-grade student in Marin, California, stood in the back of a crowded White House briefing room Wednesday and asked a question that caught everyone’s attention.
"I think that as a kid and certainly as a parent, there is nothing that could be more terrifying for a kid to go to school and not feel safe so I'm sorry that you feel that way," Sanders said.
She continued, "This administration takes it seriously and the school safety commission that the president convened is meeting this week again -- an official meeting -- to discuss the best ways forward and how we can do every single thing within our power to protect kids in our schools and to make them feel safe and to make their parents feel good about dropping them off."
Benje said he thought Sanders’ reply was “authentic” and showed “she really was a human being.”
“I really look forward to see what steps the White House will make to resolving this issue,” said Benje, who attended the briefing in his role as kid reporter for Time for Kids.
Last week, survivors of the Santa Fe High School shooting in Texas -- where eight students and two teachers were killed - held a press conference in which they detailed what they believe needs to be done to ensure safety in schools and other public places.
On June 2, people across the United States will mark National Gun Violence Awareness Day.
“It's really one of the most pressing issues today,” Benje said of guns and school safety. “I wanted to expand on that and ask my question so that I can know how the White House is working to fix this important problem that we have.”
Benje's inspiration for the question, he said, came from his friends who "really stressed" to him that he should ask about school shootings.
"I'm glad that people in the White House are at least thinking about how to fix this problem," he said. "But the story here is that school shootings need to be stopped, and that's what people need to focus on."
He added, "Whether you're on the Democratic side of the spectrum or the Republican, we both love our kids and we both want them to be safe. Therefore, I think that we can all work together to find a bipartisan solution to this problem."
Benje said it was "intimidating" to ask the question in front of "big names in journalism" but the aspiring journalist is glad his voice was heard.
"I was both nervous and really excited because I really thought that it was my chance to hopefully make a difference," Benje said.