A collection of relevant and timely media clips and resources.
Posted on February 22, 2012
As a voting constituent, you have a tremendous ability to influence the outcome of legislation. Ask any elected official which individual`s concerns are most important to him, and chances are they all will deliver the same response: his constituents`. All politicians are keenly aware of the fact that it is their constituents who hold the keys to their political futures. Therefore, constituent concerns are of the utmost concern to politicians. The best way you can affect the outcome of legislation is to directly communicate your views to your lawmakers.
REMEMBER: Your lawmakers work for you!
Since the primary concern of all politicians is to get re-elected, be sure you communicate your concerns with your own elected officials first! Then, if you wish to express your views to others who don`t directly represent you, you can do so. But make sure your legislators hear from you first! First some general information. NRA`s Institute for Legislative Action`s (NRA-ILA) website -- www.NRAILA.org -- has a wealth of information to assist you when you contact your lawmakers. Of particular note is our "Write Your Representatives" feature, which will enable you to identify and contact your lawmakers directly from our site. Also, keep in mind many times you will not be speaking directly to your elected official, but rather to a member of his staff. Contact with legislative staff is critical to the process, as staff has major input with lawmakers and has expertise in most issues on which legislators will vote -- including gun-related issues. Listed below, you`ll find some additional tips on effectively communicating with your elected officials.
WRITING EFFECTIVE LETTERSOne of the most often-utilized methods of communicating with your lawmakers is by writing a letter. As a voting constituent, a letter is an easy way for you to let lawmakers know your views on specific issues, encourage them to vote your way, and let them know you`ll watch how they vote on particular issues and keep those votes in mind on Election Day!
Personally-written letters allow you an opportunity to present your position to your lawmakers without interruption. With that in mind, you`ll want to keep the letter short and to the point, with just enough facts and figures to further enhance your statement. Never lie or make a statement you can`t back up with evidence. Always let your lawmakers know how a specific issue will affect you personally, and make sure he understands that you live and vote in his district or state, and therefore, what affects you may affect your fellow constituents as well. If you own or operate a business, use your company letterhead. If you`re a member of the PTA or other civic group, don`t hesitate to mention that. Taking these steps will enhance your message and ensure your concerns are taken seriously. Here are three quick tips you`ll want to refer to when drafting your letter, and click here to review a sample letter.
E-MAILE-mail is becoming a more popular way to communicate your views to your lawmaker. While not every lawmaker can receive e-mail messages, most are able , and more and more elected officials are utilizing it. Tips for transmitting an effective e-mail message are similar to writing a letter, though this format is usually less formal and allows you to be a bit more brief in your message. A major advantage of e-mail versus a personally-written letter is the speed in which your message will be received. Be prepared for some lawmakers to "respond" to your e-mail message with a canned reflector message that may not specifically address your concern. Whether you receive a specific response to your message or not, be sure that you request your lawmaker`s position in writing so you can document his position easily. Send this response to ILA Grassroots for our information and records. (You can find your lawmakers` [federal and state] e-mail addresses AND directly send them an e-mail message utilizing the "Write Your Representatives" feature.)
FAXINGFaxing has become increasingly popular as more and more Americans have gained access to fax machines. In fact, nearly all U.S. Senators and Representatives have published fax numbers. What`s more, faxing allows you to send a full, letter-length message to your representatives in a matter of minutes for just the cost of a phone call. When preparing a fax message to a lawmaker, follow the same basic guidelines used when mailing a letter via regular mail. You also want to make sure your fax number is clearly visible, in case your legislator wishes to respond to you via fax. (You may call the NRA-ILA Grassroots Division at (800) 392-8683 for your lawmakers` fax number or utilize the "Write Your Representatives" feature.)
EFFECTIVE TELEPHONE CALLSYou will often find that, as bills move through the legislative process, there simply isn`t enough time to write your legislators prior to a key vote. When you need to get in touch with your lawmakers immediately to let them know of your position on gun-related issues, and if you don`t have e-mail capabilities, your telephone calls become the most effective means for you to communicate your views. Below are several tips for you to refer to when placing your calls. (As with other contact information for your elected officials, the Grassroots Division can provide you with phone numbers for your legislators, and the "Write Your Representatives" feature can also provide this information.)
PERSONAL MEETINGSBy far, the most effective way to articulate your views to your elected official and to affect the outcome of legislation is to sit down and speak with your lawmakers face-to-face. While these personal visits are extremely productive, they also require the most amount of planning to ensure success. When planning a personal visit, refer to the following guidelines:
ATTEND TOWN HALL MEETINGSLawmakers often host town hall meetings in their districts -- especially during congressional district work breaks -- to tout their achievements and solicit feedback from their constituents. Such meetings are a prime opportunity for you to ask your lawmakers to state their position on firearm-related issues for the record, in an open and public forum. The following guidelines should be helpful when planning to attend town hall meetings.
For a list of town hall meetings in your area check our Event Calendar.
Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.READ MORE
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