Getting the Message Out

As much as people blog, I really hate that gun owners don’t do more letters to the editor in their regional papers. Take this letter from Marion Hammer down in Florida:

Sue Carlton is calling out St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster for respecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners and not joining a New York City gun control organization that lobbies against the rights of honest citizens.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s organization, Mayor Against Illegal Guns, is not about illegal guns; it is a front for gun control activities against law-abiding gun owners.

She proceeds to outline the many ways that MAIG has lobbied for gun control which have nothing to do with illegal guns. Believe it or not, but letters to the editor are still a great way to communicate. While newspapers might be on the decline, they still reach a broader audience on a daily basis than the vast majority of blogs do in 6 months. And, for purposes of Google-magic, newspaper content is often ranked higher than regular websites.

Next time there’s an anti-gun piece in your local paper, respond to it. When the message is from someone local, it makes a bigger impact.

11 thoughts on “Getting the Message Out”

  1. The lack of anynonimity on the opinion pages is becoming more of an issue in the information age. Employers are googling and finding things out about their employees and interviewees.

    Vindictive coworkers are digging up old letters from the opinion pages and using what they find to discredit and slander others. I have experienced this myself, as a coworker decided to google my name and found a letter I wrote to the daily news at least four years ago. He went around slandering me as a “liberal” for defending the right to own firearms while on public assistance.

    And there is room for abuse in the “character and reputation” department as well. To what extent could the PPD use my letters to the editor as a reason to deny me a LTCF?

    Until the newspapers allow pseudonyms, I will not write them.

  2. And then there is the issue of editing. I understand that it is sometimes necessary to edit for brevity. But I have had letters that were absolutely butchered by the editor, to the point that it completely changed the impact of what I was trying to say. I do not believe that this sort of thing is ever unintentional.

    1. I’ve never had my letters edited to the point of altering my meaning, and I’ve been writing them (and getting them published) since middle school. Granted, I choose my words very carefully when writing them in order to keep it as short as possible while still having a big impact. While I try to use the full space they will allow, I also try to break them up into a format where they can cut one argument and still leave the rest intact. I don’t do that to preserve against editorial bias, but rather to allow for faster publication if they have less space available sooner.

      I can certainly understand concerns about publishing names, but that’s just a risk that some people are willing to take and some are not. I realize that publishing isn’t for everyone, but there are still an awful lot of gun owners who read and write on blogs who don’t have to worry about it as much.

  3. This weekend I took three kids from NJ, who were not pro gun, out shooting. Turns out, they really like it, were good at it, and now want to learn more about it and come visit us in PA and do more shooting. One, a college student, even asked how to join the NRA – he wants the window decal.

    I’ve always maintained that taking people shooting and being patient with them while they learn does so much for shaping minds into pro gun minds.

  4. Yes, that is the biggest way to influence people in favor of our shooting sports & Second Amendment rights. But unless you can arrange to have an entire metro area out to the range, it doesn’t work the same way. Just because I’m encouraging people to write letters to the editor doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t get people out to the range, either. That’s one reason there’s an entire category on this blog dedicated to the topic of getting new shooters out to the range.

  5. “Until the newspapers allow pseudonyms, I will not write them.”

    I never send in letters to the editor under my own name. Too many kooks start calling you. I always write under the name Frank Najera.

    How would the newspaper know if the name you give is your real name?

  6. David, the Daily News and Inquirer cross reference your name with your listed address.

  7. “listed address”

    Listed where? The phonebook? People still have landlines?

  8. I’ve never had a kook call me, but I don’t live in a town (Anchorage,AK) with -that- kind of crazy people (crazy, sure, just not “stalky” in my experience).

    I have gone from using a pseudonym to using my own name online in general because, first, I am always willing to own what I say, and, second, I haven’t -yet- had it bounce back at me professionally (though I don’t doubt it happens).

    I can’t criticize people who have had other experiences though.

    I do think using your real name lends weight to your argument, particularly if a back-and-forth develops in a comments section of the Letters page. When I’m making reasoned, calm arguments under my own name and the opposing view is represented by someone with an online handle, funny or otherwise, I have seen more of the interested but not necessarily “decided” appear to give my position more weight as I can’t be accused of “hiding in anonymity”.

    Of course I avoid personal attacks too, which a lot of anti-gun folks seem incapable of doing, so the argument from the third person view is “sane, logical, real name guy with facts” versus “frothing at the mouth anonymous person”.

  9. I’ve had using my name bounce back both professionally and personally. Living in little old Berks county, it’s amazing how many people are more than willing to call you to discuss your letter to the editor, send letters to your home, or in what I can only suspect, sign you up for every mailing list and telemarketer known to man.

    Google keeps what you wrote, accessible forever and to everyone. I do my best to keep a low online profile. Many different names and many different email addresses. Funny thing about being bitten in the ass, you never know what is going to bite you till you’re bitten. People can judge what I write as it’s written, the name on the work should not matter.

  10. Deciding whether to use your name or not is a personal matter. It should be kept in mind, however, that using pseudonyms was very popular on both sides of the Constitutional debates; indeed, we don’t fully know who wrote what in the Federalist Papers, because of a shared alias.

    I, for one, appreciate some anonymity, in part, because I don’t want to become all that famous, and I want to be left alone in my private life.

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