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Meeting with YOUR Elected Officials

Discussion in 'Activism' started by Matt King, Jun 19, 2007.

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  1. Matt King

    Matt King Member

    Apr 17, 2006
    Meeting with YOUR Elected Officials

    by H. Paul Payne, Members' Council Administrator

    Whether you are meeting with your local city council member or your Senators and Congressmen in Washington, D.C., meeting with your elected officials regarding Second Amendment issues is a lot easier than most people think. Remember, your elected officials work for you!

    Your visit is merely a meeting for you to tell your elected representative what you think about a certain issue or bill, and to try to get him or her to take a desired action on that issue.

    Where can you meet? It's not necessary to travel a long way to a meeting. Even Senators and Members of Congress have one or more offices in their district. Even though the representative is not often in the local office(s), there is a permanent staff member at each office with whom you can meet, but always try to meet with your representative, personally. The best kind of PR to have is a good Personal Relationship.
    Setting up Your Meeting

    Make your request in writing and follow up with a call to the Appointment Secretary or Scheduler. Suggest convenient times and dates for your meeting. Let them know what issue and legislation (by bill number, if it has one) you wish to discuss. Make sure they know that you are a constituent. (If you are not a constituent, include one in your group and have him or her arrange the meeting.)
    Prepare for Your Meeting

    Contact your local NRA Members' Council or call the NRA Office nearest you, for materials. We should have information to help you with your talking points, as well as materials that you can leave with your elected official.

    Decide in advance, who will attend the meeting. Do not make last-minute changes. Also, bringing more than three or four people can be hard to manage. Keep it small, but bring people who represent different groups that have an interest in the issue: like doctors, veterans, religious leaders, school board members, etc.

    Agree on talking points in advance. Never disagree with each other during a meeting! If a point is causing tension in the group, leave it out.

    Plan out your meeting. People can get nervous in a meeting, and time is limited. Be sure that you lay out the meeting beforehand, including who will start the conversation. One person should not do most of the talking. Show the elected official that your group has unity of purpose.

    Decide what you want achieve. Set your goals in advance. What is it that you want your elected official to do - vote for or against the bill? Make a commitment to introduce or co-sponsor legislation? Asking your legislator or his or her staff member to do something specific will help you know how successful your visit has been!
    During the Meeting

    Be prompt and patient. Arrive approximately five minutes before your scheduled meeting time. Elected officials run on very tight schedules. Be patient - it is not uncommon for legislators to be late or to have your meeting interrupted by other business.

    Keep it short and remain focused! You will have twenty minutes or less with a staff person, and as little as ten minutes if you meet with your elected official. Make the most of that brief time by sticking to your topic.

    Start the meeting by introducing yourselves and thanking your representative for any votes he or she has made in support of your issues, and for taking the time to meet with you.

    Don't hesitate to bring up, to the elected official, any personal, professional or political connections that you may have.

    Stick to your talking points! Stay on topic, and back them up with no more than five pages of materials that you can leave with your elected official.

    Provide personal and local examples of the impact of the legislation. This is the most important thing you can do in a personal visit.

    Don't try to act like an expert on the topic you are discussing. Saying, "I don't know" can be a smart political move. If you don't know the answer to a question, it is fine to tell your representative that you will get that information for him or her. This gives you the chance to put your strongest arguments into their files, and allows you to contact them again about the issue. Never make up an answer to a question - giving wrong or inaccurate information can seriously damage your credibility and our cause!

    Politely, set deadlines for a response. Often, if an elected official hasn't taken a position on legislation, they will not commit to one in the middle of a meeting. If he or she has to think about it, or if you are meeting with a staff member, ask when you should check back in to find out what your legislator intends to do about your request. If you need to get information to your representative, set a clear and realistic timeline for when this will happen. That way, you aren't left hanging indefinitely.
    After the Meeting - Remember to follow up

    Immediately following the meeting, compare notes with everyone in your group in order to compare what the elected official committed to do and what follow up information you committed to send.

    Each person who took part in the meeting should promptly send a personal thank you letter to the elected official.

    Follow up in a timely fashion with any requested materials and information.

    If the elected official or staff member doesn't meet the deadline for action you agreed to, during the meeting, ask him or her to set another deadline. Be persistent, polite and flexible!

    If you have met with a member of the legislature, let the NRA Staff know what have you learned during your meeting by sending an e-mail to the web site Administrator. Knowing what issues are important to him or her, and what positions he or she took will help us make our lobbying efforts more effective, both on a statewide and a national level!

    Remember that your personal meeting with your elected official is one of the best opportunities to demonstrate that the Second Amendment is a very important issue in his or her district.

    © 1999/2005 H. Paul Payne, All Rights Reserved.

    From: http://calnra.com/tip-meet.shtml
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