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Outraged by Gun Violence? Here or in the US, Calling Your Congressperson Has Just as Much Impact

stop guns

stop guns

By Barbara Erickson

In the wake of two mass shootings in less than 24 hours, which resulted in the death of at least 31 individuals, many Americans are demanding Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recall the Senate for a special session to consider House-passed legislation to require universal background checks.

How can you find a voice in this conversation and convert your personal outrage to action? There are concrete steps to take that will make a difference even though you are in San Miguel de Allende.

First step: what works? I reached out to Julia Pomeroy, longtime chief of staff for Oregon Congressperson Earl Blumenauer, to find out what I could do that might actually have an impact in Washington. According to Pomeroy, making contact directly with your member of Congress is an effective tool.

“We do track all individual phone calls and emails and give detailed reports to Earl on what people are calling and writing about so that he and the staff can be super-responsive to constituents. What we don’t track are online petitions—we get them in the office, and since they are random names without addresses or emails, we throw them out.”

That leads to the next question—how do I identify my member of Congress? The following sites find them for you and even provide scripts for you to use in case you want them: https://5calls.org/issue/expand-background-checks-gun-purchases and https://www.callmycongress.com/

Note that the two sites promote liberal messages. Here is one to send a free fax with no agenda: https://faxzero.com/fax_congress.php/

If you want to contact your member of Congress by email, it is simple to google their name to find their congressional site, and there you will find a contact button to click and then write what you want to say. It is important to note that on all these platforms, to be taken seriously you need to identify yourself as a constituent. Also, write or call with respect. I personally ask that they respond to my emails as I get satisfaction in knowing they have read my comments.

Does it make a difference?

“The adage, ‘If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu,’ applies to getting in contact with your lawmakers,” says Emily Ellsworth, a former Congressional staffer. She believes the reason that most people don’t contact their representatives is because they think either that their voice doesn’t matter or that their representative already knows how constituents feel about an issue. “Neither of these is true,” she says, adding, “Calling your representatives means their staff needs to give an answer right away.”

What else works to address this issue? Donate to effective gun control advocacy organizations such as the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, https://www.csgv.org. Ask your group of friends to contact their members of Congress too, to spread the effectiveness. Vote. You can register now at https://vr.votefromabroad.org/. It is a nonpartisan site.

 

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