One of the recurring themes in many of the speeches given at the Gun Rights Policy Conference was how many bad gun laws were products of poorly informed legislators and their aids. Sure there are some stubborn, anti gun idiots that get in office and don’t care what the numbers say, they’re bannin’ them guns dagnabbit! However, there are many, many more who are just ignorant on the whole affair who go along with whoever shows up at their offices and gives them their information.
This is one of my major sticking points of why I think government needs to be given practically no power over anything except the barest of essentials. Just because you can ‘write policy’ doesn’t mean you know anything about what you’re writing it on. For my common example, I can program computers. I know the ins and outs of the languages that I use and am very good at building quality applications. However, this doesn’t mean I can write any software. I couldn’t write medical diagnostic software because I am not familiar with medical science. I can work with people to figure it out, but just because I know software doesn’t mean I know software for your specific needs.
Legislation is the same thing. We have people who have been granted fine grain control of every facet of our lives when in fact, the majority of the people elected are schooled in what it takes to be a politician and not, say, proper diagnosis of cancer or the metallurgy required to build safe firearms. So, given relatively little information, they see “a problem” and, being that the only tool in their toolbox is the hammer of legislation, do what you would expect them to.
The trick is to be part of their information stream. Show up at their offices, make phone calls, bring information they can use. As easy as it is to ridicule elected officials, it’s just as easy to see that if we do not take an active part in educating these people that the fault lies in our hands as well. And yes, this means you’re going to have to play the game and be cordial, even with politicians who might not be on board with gun rights. Politeness goes a long way.
Take CalGuns. They are gun owners who live in a state dominated by Democrats (and the Republicans they have are in name only). They must work with them to educate them to do the best they can. It’s not perfect, they’re not going to turn into the model of gun rights, but CalGuns and their members have managed to make amazing strides because their grassroots membership shows up.
I’m not there yet, and this is a failing on my part that I’m working to correct, but your representatives should know you. If you were to walk into them on the street, they should recognize you immediately. If you do it correctly, it should be a congenial thing at worst. The last thing you want are your reps going “Oh, God, it’s you”. That doesn’t help. Swallow a bit of pride if you must, but be as friendly as you can.
Florida Carry needs funding to file lawsuits for the protection of Florida’s gun owners, but even more than that, we and every other state level organization need our members to actively get out there and talk with our legislators. Emails are great. Letters are fantastic. A phone call goes a long way.Showing up, however, is even more powerful. Be part of the solution to protecting our rights, don’t just sit back on the sidelines complaining to the coach how poorly the game is being played.
If you can’t be bothered to help our legislators learn, don’t be surprised when they churn out laws based on ignorance.