I’m back with more specific ideas that you can try in your version of a “gun community” to oppose new gun control measures. My apologies for the time off from these, but it was a little tough to blog seriously with a 4-year-old niece crawling in my lap and wanting her hair brushed and styled with “big girl” hair clips. But those kinds of moments remind me why I try to protect our rights. Someday, she will be a big girl who should have the right to decide the best way to protect herself when she’s out on her own in this world.
In case you missed the previous posts, I’m writing a short series on the topic of contacting lawmakers over the next few days with specific ideas for various communities of gun owners to expand their reach. Whether you’re just some guy who owns guns and finds their “gun community” online, own a commercial gun range or shop, or are a member of a community gun club, I’m going to collect specific actionable, easy ideas for you to think about.
Today’s list is for individuals with a focus on reaching out through the media.
- Don’t write off the media as completely against us and worthless for outreach. Many individual members of the national media aren’t good targets, but the local press is much more likely to be open to different opinions. In my holiday local news viewing opportunities, the often featured viewer comments via social media and email responses which showed support for the Second Amendment and opposition to new gun control measures.
- If you live in an area with local weeklies or other small papers, turn to those as an outlet. When I did my Congressional internship, the Congressman’s primary office had a subscription to every single paper in the district – no matter how rinky dink the circulation. I can’t speak for every single Congressional office, but I suspect that this is pretty common. The offices generally want to keep up with what all district media are saying about them.
- If you are writing to the local paper, try to include the name(s) of your targeted elected officials. As the only intern willing to work daily in the aforementioned office, I had the joyous task of reading every single paper and finding any and all references to the Congressman. It did not matter what the topic of the article/letter to the editor was about. If it was calling him to do something or mentioned his record on something, I had to cut out the article. This is likely still done for any offices that take smaller local papers that don’t publish all sections online.
- If you submit a letter to the editor or comment to the local television/radio stations that doesn’t get published or aired after several days, then post it online. If you have a blog, post what you intended to say online and include a link to what inspired you to write. The staff of any officials named will pick it up in Google Alerts and see that you are contacting media outlets in his/her district, even if your letter or comment wasn’t published that day. If you don’t have a blog and have a particularly well-written letter to the editor that you have submitted that didn’t get published, then email it to your favorite gun or political blogger to see if they will post it. Make sure to include the media outlet you targeted, and any relevant links to original stories.
- Email a copy of your letter to the editor directly to your lawmakers. If you want to go the direct route, just email the office of your representatives with a note that you thought they might like to see the letter to the editor you just submitted to the relevant district news outlet that mentioned them. Don’t do this every single week, but just a friendly and professional heads up since it is relevant to potential press coverage for their boss.
- In any communication with the media, you’re more likely to be featured if you are clear and concise. With letters to the editor, they shouldn’t be any longer than 150 words. The shorter letters provide more flexibility as they lay the pages out for publication. Typically, a writer or commenter won’t be featured more than once every 30 days, so don’t bombard any outlet with constant letters or comments if they have recently published or shared something from you.
- Use spellcheck. Ask a family member, friend, or even a fellow commenter on your favorite gun blog or forum to take a look at something before you submit it. It will help to keep you message. Don’t forget to include your name and city, as well as contact information so they can verify with you if they want to publish or feature your comments.
- If you have a state or regional political news site or blog that covers your lawmakers, consider submitting a guest editorial to them on the specific policies being discussed. If you’re lacking inspiration, use gun blogs and forums as guides in writing a well-argued piece. Don’t plagiarize, but you can certainly use ideas and concepts for composing a serious post.
I do have more ideas for individual action than just the media, but I wanted to do a media-themed post since there will be so many opportunities to talk specific issues and specific lawmakers in the next month. It’s not a completely lost cause to use these outlets.
A thorough response to one of the bigger (now defunct) political blogs here in Pennsylvania got at least one journalist to stop falsely reporting that a Democrat was pro-gun. While I’m not encouraging that kind of response to every mainstream report, it shows that readers/viewers/listeners who speak out can remind the media that we’re going to keep them on their toes. More importantly, it amplifies your voice to lawmakers since they now know that you’re not only contacting them as a constituent, you’re out there talking to other voters.
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