A one-on-one meeting (or a simple, informal “meet and greet” with staff) can be a very effective means or educating a legislator whose knowledge of firearms is limited to liberal media accounts. The following tips can help remove the “fear” and “mystery” of people who own guns.
- Do your homework about the legislator (refer to “The Member” section on the best way to establish a relationship.) If possible, learn their position on guns but unless they have been publicly vocal as an anti-gunner, try to go into the meeting with an open mind. Hopefully, they will do the same.
- Don’t show up like you just emerged from a duck blind. There’s nothing wrong with hunting clothes, but what would you think if some legislator showed up for a hunt in a suit, tie and wingtips? This doesn’t mean you have to “dress up” to lobby an elected official – it simply means be thoughtful about what to wear.
- Have a letter / handout to give to the member on the issue/bill and detail your position. As with “The Written Word”, make certain this is clearly and legibly stated. Members are often given packets of information; this is not necessary, but if you have a lot of background/data that could be used as a future resource, consider this as an option.
- The 2nd Amendment has become a contentious and overly emotionalized issue; watch your demeanor.
- Remember that a legislator’s time is valuable and don’t walk in with the attitude of an angry taxpayer that says “You work for me….” This happens more than it should and shuts down dialogue very quickly. State your position, present your data and then ask if the Member has any questions. Do not be longwinded.
- Respect verbal and non-verbal cues that indicate the meeting is drawing to an end.
- Express your thanks, make sure you leave your contact information and make yourself available as a resource should any future questions come up.
DON’T FORGET THE THANK YOU
A simple, yet genuine expression of thanks is critical to maintaining a positive dialogue – even in disagreement.