View Full Version : Be Active - Read These Suggestions

01-05-2013, 8:06 PM
I co-opted this from Grant Cunningham - a revolver enthusiast. Good Ideas! I'll suffer the slings and arrows in the afterlife. LD

ALERT: It's time for you to do something! (http://www.grantcunningham.com/blog_files/1aec3e9a2cdb7468efa0b1adad770d68-1128.html)

Wednesday, January 02, 2013 Filed in: Current Events (http://www.grantcunningham.com/blog_files/category-current-events.html), Political Action (http://www.grantcunningham.com/blog_files/category-political-action.html)

Happy New Year everyone! Well, it would be if the Second Amendment community weren’t facing a major fight at the dawn of 2013. This time they’re serious, and it’s going to take some work on our parts to win.

You see, Congress goes back to work tomorrow and one of the things they'll be working on is Dianne Feinstein's new gun control bill. I'll not waste the space here detailing the provisions - you can easily look them up with a five-second Google - but she's going for broke this time: the virtual elimination of all semi-automatic rifles and handguns, and the outlawing of any gun which carries more than ten rounds (including lever action rifles.) The exact content of the bill is as yet unknown, but she's pushing for mandatory registration and perhaps even confiscation.

Normally Congress would pretty much roll their collective eyes and say “there goes Dianne again”, but with the Sandy Hook murders still relatively fresh in the public's mind and with the complicity of both Hollywood and the media her bill is sure to gain traction it otherwise mightn’t. I don't believe her bill stands much of a chance of passage but that's not the point - it's a negotiating tactic, a way to steer the public perception toward "reasonable" gun control.

If we, the shooting community, don't act immediately her little scheme might just work. That means you and I - yes, you too - need to do something within the next week, maybe even sooner, if we're to counter this horrendous attack on our civil rights.

What to do? Lots of people are blithely exhorting you to write your Congressperson, but no one ever explains just how to go about doing so effectively - if they even know themselves. The problem with writing to Congress is that if you don't do it right your message will be completely ignored, and might even embolden an anti-gun legislator. I hope today I can shed a little light on the process and give you a few guidelines to help ensure that your voice is actually heard.

Here's what I've learned from talking with elected representatives (I even have one in the family though I don’t like to admit it), people who work or have worked for them, people in the media (I have one of those in the family too), as well as reading articles by people who have worked in Congressional offices:

- The first and most important thing you need to understand is that unless he/she knows you personally, your Senator or Representative will likely never see your letter. His/her office has aides or corespondents whose job it is to read the mail, categorize each response as for or against, and file it in the appropriate place. The Congressperson checks in with the aides (who are assigned to specific issues, like gun control) on a regular basis, asking how many times they've heard from constituents on the specific issue at hand. They'll be told how many letters they've received and what the for/against percentages are, but are unlikely to get anything more specific unless they ask. If the majority of the letters are on one side, that's what they'll be told.

- Remember that aides are usually fresh out of college, idealistic, and not very well paid. Don't be rude and never insult them or their boss or your letter will go missing - from what I've been told it's a sure bet. Don't say anything about your Congressperson being a scum-sucking gun grabber even if it is true; be polite, even if it kills you.

- Don't use paper. As a security precaution all snailmail goes to a central location where it's irradiated, examined, opened, scanned (probably with OCR) into an electronic file, and then that file is delivered to your Congressperson's office. They never see the paper unless they request it specifically. This process is said to take a week at best, and if there is a huge influx of correspondence it might take two or three or more. If there is a time-sensitive issue, as this is, a paper letter will almost certainly be too late. An email gets there faster and ends up in the same place anyhow, so there is no longer a reason to put pen to paper when writing Congress. Send an email.

- Don't write a book. The aides have a ton of letters to go through, don't have a lot of time, and are easily bored. Your letter should consist of a paragraph or two at the very most: tell them what you're writing about, how you want them to vote, and why it's important to you. That's it; resist the urge to write more. Ideally you should get that done in three well-crafted sentences, and as the volume of mail goes up the greater the importance of making your letter concise.

- If you're not a constituent - yes, they check - your letter will generally be ignored. In other words, unless you're actually in Feinstein's district don't waste your time writing her office; it won't do any of us any good even if you are polite.

- How do you make sure they know you’re a constituent? Put your name and address in the letter. I get emails constantly where the only identifier of the sender is "toughguy37@aol.com". To me it's just annoying, but it causes Congressional aides to conclude one of two things: you're either out of district or sending robomails, either of which will cause your email to go right into the electronic trashcan. If you don't want that to happen put your FULL NAME and address in the body.

- Make sure your email has a subject; those without subjects might be filtered out by their office email system. I’m told the best thing to do is to put the title/number of the actual bill in the subject line so that the reason for your letter can be quickly determined.

- The NRA will probably send you an email with links to form letters that you can send to your Congressperson. DON'T DO IT. Form letters are nearly useless; when the aides are queried, one of the questions they're asked is what percentage of letters are of the form variety and which were actually written. The form letters have FAR less impact than those you send from your own keyboard (some say they are simply ignored. After all, if it was really important to you, you'd have written your own damn letter.) Again: DON'T USE FORM LETTERS. If you feel you can't make a good impression on the aides then have someone draft it for you, but don't use the prewritten missives from any group.

- If you even get a response it will almost certainly be a form letter. Deal with it. Go back to the first item: your Congressperson is NOT going to read your letter, and therefore is very unlikely to draft a personal response to you. Expect a form letter and don't go *****ing on Facebook if you get one; it's just how the system works.

Now go use what you've learned, and let's see if we can head Feinstein's bill off at the pass!

-=[ Grant ]=-

01-06-2013, 11:00 AM
Well stated.