Robb Allen has a great post about citizen engagement in legislation and how you need to be involved to get good laws, specifically good gun laws. He notes that legislators aren’t experts on the issues they legislate. That’s where you, the engaged and informed citizen, have a duty to write, call, or visit your elected officials. Deeply flawed bills can be derailed by investing a little of your time in the process. Stopping bad bills from becoming law is cheaper, easier, and safer than trying to overturn a bad law in our court system.
For instance, a politician trying to “do something” might be extremely uninformed about the standard magazine capacity for a firearm. For the ambitious legislator, limiting magazine capacity might sound like a great way to “do something” about crime. Making it a felony to possess a magazine that can hold more than ten rounds will prove that the politician is really serious when he/she/it is trying to do something about crime. A courteous meeting with your politicritters could educate them about the range of standard capacities available, how the law will unjustly criminalize their voting base, negatively impact the poor, minorities, and women.
The alternative is; bad laws, a loss of rights, and hours wasted on internet forums complaining about how NRA let you down because they didn’t airdrop a team of lawyers and lobbyists in to rescue you from the city council/legislature/Governor your fellow citizens elected. At the local and state level, it’s your job to engage your representatives!
Even if NRA has a lobbyist in your state, that lobbyist doesn’t have as much influence as large numbers of constituents calling a state senator, flooding a representative’s inbox with email, or overloading the governor’s phone system.
The NRA is the 800 pound gorilla for Federal gun legislation and elections. At the state level in Arizona, the Arizona Citizens Defense League (AzCDL) and the Arizona State Rifle and Pistol Association (ASRPA) are our 800 pound gorillas when it comes to gun rights. If your state has an NRA affiliate like ASRPA, or a comparable Citizens Defense League, you should join immediately. In California there is CalGuns and Florida has Florida Carry. Just about every state has a group fighting for their resident’s rights.
After you’ve joined a group that protects your rights, you need to participate as well. These groups get a reputation as 800 pound gorillas because their members demonstrate that they are watching, voting, and dethroning bad politicians.
If you don’t interact in the process, you are dependent on a few dedicated volunteers and a generous individual or two to protect your rights and interests. If you aren’t gaining ground in your state, it’s probably time for you to get involved.
Tags: Arizona, Gun Laws, gun rights, Guns, Laws, legislation, legislators, NRA, politicians