Politics

Call Your Senators about the Two House Gun Safety Laws


In a sign that we are returning to “normal” after a year of pandemicking, we’ve had seven mass shootings in seven days — Yay, American exceptionalism, I guess — and two that were particularly horrific. Eight dead at three Asian-themed Atlanta-area massage parlors and ten dead including a police officer at a grocery store in Boulder plunging us all into the futile gun safety debate with the Q-Pubes and other conservatives in Congress and on our social media.

All the talking pundits on the cable news shows assure us that the vast majority of Americans support the passage of national gun safety measures, even gun owners! even NRA members! even Repbubes! How could that possibly be true? If it were true, we’d have “common sense” gun safety legislation, right?

Let’s run through some of the polls:

After the Sandy Hook massacre of 20 first graders, we all thought that we would pass some kind of gun safety legislation. Rachel Maddow reported that in 2013 Senator Joe Manchin (D – WV) stymied a more comprehensive background check bill assuring his colleagues that he could pass a slimmed down version of the bill by working with Senator Pat Toomey (R – Penn). The filibuster was sustained with only 54 votes for ending it.

That exact same senator, Joe Manchin, says that he opposes the current expanded background check bill but is interested in reprising his 2013 bill. Hunh. We’ll see.

With so much support, and so little legislative action, something just doesn’t add up, does it? It makes it doubly important that you call your senator to express your support.

The Bills

hr 8 – Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021
  • Sponsor:Rep. Mike Thomas (D – CA, 5)
  • Congress: 117th Congress 2021 – 2022
  • Status:
    • Passed the House 227 – 203 with eight Repube votes
    • 11 March 2021, received by the Senate
  • Summary: Since 1993, the US has required all sales by licensed gun dealers to go through a federal background check utilizing the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Private sales including some sales on the internet or at gun shows have been excluded. This bill would require background checks for almost all gun transfers, including those between private parties, i.e. family members or friends. It also requires a licensed firearms dealer to hold all firearms until the background check has been completed when the transfer is between private parties. There are exceptions for self-defense or transfers at gun ranges.
HR 1446  – Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2021
  • Sponsor: Rep. Jim Clyburn (D – SC, 6)
  • Congress: 117th Congress 2021 – 2022
  • Status:
    • Passed the House 219 – 210 with eight Repube votes
    • 11 March 2021, received by the Senate
  • Summary:
    • This bill corrects the Charleston loophole, which allowed the unqualified Charleston shooter to purchase a gun anyway. Under the current system if the background check doesn’t give an answer in three working days, the purchase can proceed as if it were approved. When the Charleston shooter bought his gun, his background check hadn’t been completed in three days allowing the sale to go through. He would’ve been denied due to drug possession.
    • H.R. 1446 would allow for ten business days to complete the background check. If it is still incomplete, the purchaser could petition for a final determination of the dale. If a final determination is not completed in another ten days, then the transfer can proceed as if it had.
    • Please note that nine states have longer background check requirements with Utah and Florida allowing background checks to proceed until complete without a time limit.

The Scripts

Call YOUR senators to express your support for these two bills even if it means modifying the filibuster. Following Indivisible’s lead, we’re tailoring our appeals to each of the five types of MoC’s. Search through for the types that best fit each of your two senators.

Calling or Writing

Use this script when calling or writing your Members of Congress. Adapt as needed.

Regardless of the type of MoC you have, they all should begin the same:

Hi, my name is [NAME] and I’m a constituent from [STATE and LOCALITY].

I’m calling today because we once again confront the aftermath of mass shootings using military grade weapons bought just before the attacks took place. If we treat gun violence as a public health concern and use the data-driven solutions like effective background checks, then we can limit the death toll when these shootings occur and reduce the number of shootings. Simply by supporting the two House bills, HR 8 which requires background checks for most gun transfers and HR 1446 which closes the Charleston loophole, we begin to diminish the number of these senseless shootings.

Find your type of senator from the list below and continue with that script.

The Member of Leadership

Our country is crying out in pain demanding action that will protect us from this level of violence. These two bills are widely supported by the public, Democrats, Republicans, and independents, gun owners and non owners, everyone. We cannot allow opponents of common sense gun legislation slow these bills down, water these bills down, or prevent their passage. If we must modify the filibuster, then we must to protect the American people from mass shootings.

The Moderate Democrat

As we saw in both the Atlanta and Boulder mass shootings, gun violence continues to decimate our public spaces. These two House bills are widely supported by the public. We must appeal across the aisle for support from the Republicans in the Senate like we saw in the House, but we must also be prepared to go it alone even if it means requiring talking filibusters.

The progressive Democrat

I know you support both of these bills. Please fight for them and prevent any attempt by the Republican Party to block their passage. We need you to be a vocal supporter of these bills if we are to protect our public spaces from mass shooting incidents. We need you to support modifying the filibuster if we have to pass these bills without Republican support.

The conservative Democrat

The American people are desperate for relief from these senseless shootings. We must take advantage of the opportunity to balance our Second Amendment rights with our rights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. We deserve equal protection under the law across America. These bills do not impede any legal gun owner from purchasing or acquiring a gun, but allows the system time to work and covers most transfers. While we are likely to see Republican support for these bills, but if necessary, we should be prepared to modify the filibuster so that they can pass.

The Repube

As we saw during the Atlanta and Boulder mass shootings, the threat to our public spaces only paused during the #COVID19 pandemic, but now that we are opening the country, they have returned. The American people support changes to the background checks that will help curtail these shootings. These bills balance our Second Amendment rights with our right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness by slowing the background process and expanding background checks to most gun transfers.

Thank you for your time and attention.

IF LEAVING A VOICEMAIL: please leave your full street address to ensure your call is tallied.

The Starter Tweet

You may need to adjust the wording in the tweet because of your senator’s Twitter handle.

Help balance our 2nd A rights with our right to Life Liberty and Happiness by supporting the House background check bills. They slow the process and cover most transactions, but do not stop gun ownership. We need equal protection in every state

Tips for Calling

When you call your representative’s office, please remember the following:

  • Only contact YOUR MoC! They only listen to their constituents and dismiss requests from non-constituents.Ask for the aide working on the policy-related issues.
  • Be polite! No matter whose office you’re calling. No matter what their positions are. No matter how inflamed you are about the issue — and you should be very passionate — be polite.
  • Remember that the people you are talking to are people! So, be nice.
  • Call during business hours of the area code their office is in. Typically, that is 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
  • Have a script or notes to follow so you don’t forget anything.
  • Maybe call with friends. You know like a party.

Other Suggestions

I’ve heard back from readers that some MoC’s voice mail boxes are always full! It’s as if they don’t want to hear from their constituents. Kinda like those MoC’s who don’t hold town halls or other open forum meetings. Here are some other ways to contact your MoC:

In Addition to Calling

  • in person visit, or what passes for in person during the time of #COVID19. Being in their office either in person or virtually and talking to the Congress person or a staff member is your best bet for getting your message heard.
  • Send a postcard to their office. Nothing says I care like kicking it old school and using snail mail.
  • Email their office. Lay out your concerns in a brief email and send it in. We all know how easy it is to email. Make sure you include the issue you are addressing in the subject line.
  • Use the contact page on their website. This is the surest way of getting a message to them. Each MoC has an official government website and each has a contact page that comes with it automatically.
  • Contact them using social media. It’s hard to break through all the noise on social media, but it can’t hurt to try given all the time we all spend using it. Be sure to tag your MoC’s when social mediaing about about a specific issue. Be clear and respectful, though, when addressing an issue that you want your MoC to act upon. Make sure you let them know you are a constituent.
  • A form letter or petition. You see these on social media all the time. Text to this number and they’ll send a postcard. Sign the petition and they’ll deliver it. It makes it easier for you to do, and I guess it makes up for its lack of impact through its larger numbers? But, you wouldn’t be here reading this and thinking about calling your MoC if you were all about ease and comfort. There’s nothing easy, comforting, or comfortable about reading my syntactically garbled ranting snarky posts.

Coordination Makes an Impact

  • Group Action. Visiting, calling, or mailing letters as a group has a bigger impact than just one person doing it, and it’s more fun. So, get your friends, neighbors, acquaintances, kidnap victims, whoever together and pass the phone around. Make it a day drinking game. Call in sick to work. It’s fun for the whole family!
  • Join an Indivisible chapter. If you haven’t already joined an Indivisible chapter, consider doing it now. There are thousands of them dotted across the land. They sprouted and grew like invasive bamboo or mushrooms after 2017.
  • Subscribe to Email Groups. I know those emails that claim to be from Elizabeth Warren, other political celebrities, or at least a real name are annoying, but they do help coordinate national action on issues. So, if a Congress person realizes that they just got a gazillion calls on issue X on the same day, then they know there’s a group that is pushing the issue and has voters behind it. See how that works for the anxious-to-be-re-elected Congress critter?

Film at 11:00

If you meet with your Congress person or staffer, film the interaction — this is where having a group comes in handy, one person talks, another one glares, and the third one films. So, if they are squirming or hemming and hawing or saying stupid stuff, you could go viral, and isn’t that everyone’s dream in this age of social media?

Use the Local Press

Again, if you’re going down as a large group, the press will cover it. If you’ve got a large phoning party, the press will cover it. And, you know who reads the local press? Congress folk, do, or at least their interns do. If you make the hometown newspaper or TV news, you’ve got that Congress person’s attention! So, go on, grab ’em by the press!

Informational Links

Useful links for getting the contact information for your MoC’s and anyone else in government local, state, or federal as well as tracking legislation, activism, and other information.

  • Common Cause will give you the names, party affiliation, direct phone number, website link, and social media platforms of all of your federal, state, and local elected officials.
  • USA.gov is the official guide to information and services of the US government. This page explains clearly how to contact everyone from the Ol’ Pussy Grabber to your representative to specific government agencies. Through it you can find the following information about your MoC’s:
    • Their phone numbers: DC and state offices
    • Their mailing addresses both in DC and their state offices
    • Official website with their contact page including email, request a meeting, town hall schedules, and social media
    • And, the committees they sit on
  • Congress.gov is the official clearinghouse of information on all bills before Congress. You can find the sponsors, summaries, text, and status of every bill before Congress. It is a great tool.
  • LegiScan uses the LegiScan API to search the LegiScan Data Service to provide a non-partisan federal and state legislation tracking service.
  • 5 Calls: Sign-up for 5 Calls because they help you contact your member of Congress and keep you abreast of on going issues that are important to you! Now, that is a good deal.
  • The Capital Hill Switch Board: (202) 224-3121.
  • MassacreMitch and #MoscowMitch: His DC office, (202) 224-2541.
  • Nancy Pelosi: Her DC office, (202) 225-4965; her California office, (415) 556-4862
  • The WH Switchboard: (202) 456-1414 or the comments line at (202) 456-1111 during business hours

Join Indivisible

Follow the link to Indivisible to find a group near you, their campaigns, events in your neighborhood, and download their handy-dandy booklet!

If you want to be more active in our democracy and make your voice heard, sign up for our email list and never miss a post!

Image Attribution

“Guns and Ammo Garage” by TDelCoro is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

33 replies »

      • Lucas is the rep. I am stuck with James Lankford and Jim Inhofe. Inhofe has been a senator since the 80’s and has never done a damn thing. Lankford is just a tool.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Howdy Suze!
          It can feel futile to tell them your views, but it is useful for them to know just so they know that there is an active opposition. I’m lucky to have been gerrymandered into Democratic districts when I lived in Texas, but stuck with Cornyn and Cruz in the Senate. How I wished that Beto had run against Cornyn.
          Huzzah!
          Jack

          Liked by 1 person

    • Howdy Bob!

      I like what Indivisible had to say about calling your Republican representatives and senators: it isn’t so much about changing their votes as it is letting them know how large and organized the opposition is to them. It is really the moderates of both parties that we’re trying to reach to help strengthen their resolve to support these measures. Right now the GQP has shifted into their full court press mode to try to dampen any enthusiasm for gun reform. And, we’re keeping our voters engaged in the process.

      Huzzah!
      Jack

      Liked by 1 person

      • Several of the people in my local Indivisible group have been trying to engage our MOC (Madison Cawthorn) and Senator (Thom Tilis). The responses have been disappointing to say the least.

        In yesterday’s press conference, Biden shifted Gun Control to the back burner, which some are complaining about, but with good reason. There are at least two Dem Senators who are not yet on board, and the filibusterer is still in place. No gun control legislation (unless to reduce it) is going to get past the filibuster in this Senate. Biden has to wait for those two Senators to come around and for the Dems to do something about the Filibuster. Otherwise, bringing such bills to the floor is only useful to make it clear that the GOP blocks it ad a talking point for 2022. The GOP want Biden to be forced to try executive action on gun issues so they can accuse him of overreach and file suits to stop it and get the subject to to SCOTUS again.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Howdy Bob!
          From what I understand, we are due a SCOTUS gun case and a likely ruling in favor of gun rights. Although, there have been several lower court rulings restricting the right. So, we’ll see.

          Biden has a lot on his plate right now. #COVID19 remains his highest priority, and rightly so. With the Georgia law restricting voter access being signed into law, that has become a higher priority, and of course, the border mess that Trump left him has to get sorted. If we don’t address the states shifting election supervision from county boards to state legislators, we won’t have a democracy, though. That is the whole shooting match right there. In some ways that makes it the highest priority. But, with all of these issues being addressed by pending legislation in the Senate means that the filibuster is about to be changed. It sounds like they may have agreement to either eliminate the filibuster for voting or Constitutional rights or modify it to require a talking filibuster or both.

          Whatever happens, it is going to be a fight. No Republicans are going to be voting for Democratic legislation. They may as well blow up the filibuster and pressure Manchin and Sinema into going along with most of their legislative plans.

          Huzzah!
          Jack

          Liked by 1 person

          • That about sums it up, although Biden might (slim odds) be able to peel off 10 GOP Senators for infrastructure if there are enough goodies in it for their states and their business communities lean hard on them.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Howdy Bob!
              If they do a single large infrastructure bill, the price tag will probably drive away GOP votes. If they do it piecemeal: roads and bridges, yes; broadband Internet and green energy, no. They may end up doing it through reconciliation because of it.

              The more I think about the state legislation limiting voter access, the more I worry for our democracy. I cannot understand Manchin’s intransigence on the filibuster and HR1. Maybe they will be able to get him to change. Maybe Democracy Docket will be able to get these laws overturned. It really is down to Citizens United. The political elites of the GOP are swayed by their greed as billions pour into their election coffers. Racism is just a bonus for them and a way to string their base along.

              Huzzah!
              Jack

              Liked by 1 person

              • The bonus of racism is long standing. In large degree, the racism of post-Reconstruction Jim Crow was about maintaining the wealth and power of the planter class and their politicians. The more things change …

                I expect that reconciliation and/or killing the filibuster will be needed to pass much of anything in the Senate. The GOP are stuck in opposition mode. One trick the Dems, especially in the House have floated is bringing back earmarks, which do facilitate across-the-isle deal making.

                Liked by 1 person

                • Howdy Bob!

                  I just realized how concerted an effort that the GOP is making to drive us toward authoritarianism: (1) By allowing #COVID19 to run rampant through the population, they can argue that democratic government has failed to protect us. Once it is bad enough and things are really collapsing like the Great Depression, they can introduce authoritarianism. (2) By keeping Congress inactive and unable to pass legislation, they force the executive to rule as an authoritarian essentially priming us for autocratic rule. And (3) by suppressing the vote of communities of color and white likely Democratic voters, they can ensure minority rule and a pseudo-democracy, which is authoritarianism by any other name.

                  John Roberts paved the way with Citizens United and Shelby v Holder. Racism is both the means and ends of achieving authoritarianism.

                  I’m just shocked by it all.

                  Huzzah!
                  Jack

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • They may be miscalculating. Things collapsing, as in the Great Depression actually led to FDR, the New Deal, and the sidelining of the extreme right for a generation, because “Big Government” worked (including in WW2). The Biden play book is deeply informed by that history.

                    Racism is, I think, at a deep level the essence of authoritarianism, giving even the least of the Master Race power to abuse and exploit The Other.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!
                      The one thing the extreme right has on its side here is social media and the media in general. A majority of Repube rank and vile voters believe the 6 January Insurrection was a peaceful protest. The extreme right media messaging machine is driving us with disinformation towards authoritarianism.

                      Racism fits in that Hitler playbook as objects of blame and scapegoating and keeping the base riled up.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • It would help, I suppose, if “Freedom Of Speech” was not thought to include knowingly, deliberately, and maliciously lying. Perhaps, our Defamation, Libel and Slander rules need some work. Law suits with very, very large price tags do seem to have some effect.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!
                      The knowing telling and propagation of political lies and disinformation needs to be treated like a hate crime and hate speech. The state now has a legitimate and vested interest in setting parameters on our public discourse given the events of recent years.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Then there is the permanent question when any form of “censorship” is peoposed, or any other limitation on “Freedom Of Speech”; Who will be the arbiter and judge of Truth and Falsity? The social media platforms are facing that now and not happy about it. Neither are a lot of people and organizations, including politicians, about how they are trying to deal with disinformation. In some form (probably more than one) the whole subject will find its way to the SCOTUS.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!
                      The idea that allows the gov’t to limit any right is to determine whether the gov’t has a vested interest in this area and injuries and harm to prevent by doing so. I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but the harms caused by repeatedly, deliberately, and knowingly repeating and spreading disinformation gives the opportunity for the gov’t to define iit more precisely for courts to adjudicate. It is similar to hate speech and hate crimes.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

        • Howdy Bob!

          I know you probably already know this, but Cawthorn is trying to take credit for American Recovery dollars flowing to NC-11. Hopefully, your Indivisible chapter will be doing all you can to hold him accountable.

          Tweet #1:

          Happy to announce that NC-11 was awarded grants from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

          -Appalachian Mountain Community Health Centers was given $2,458,000

          -Western North Carolina Community Health Services Inc. was given $4,622,375

          (1/2)

          Tweet #2:
          -Bakersville Community Medical Clinic Inc. was given $1,771,125

          -Blue Ridge Community Health Services Inc. was given $10,473,250

          Proud to see tax-payer dollars returned to NC-11.

          (2/2)

          Just FYI.

          Huzzah!
          Jack

          Liked by 1 person

          • Not a surprise, coming from that lying SOS. Just in case the group are not keeping track of his Tweets, may I copy your comment and email to the group? With a link to the blog, of course.

            Liked by 1 person

                • I thought there would be. I’m glad that the media is picking up these claims and placing them in context. Unfortunately, the more mainstream media like CNN, NBC etc. are not reporting on it in such detail but in general.

                  It’s worth keeping track of, especially, the claims of our own members.

                  Huzzah!
                  Jack

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • I think the mainstream media would like to be able to ignore Cawthorn and that woman from Georgia. Neither one has any seniority or actual power in the House. They are treated as a side show. BTW, Cawthorn isn’t the only Republican who’s been trying to take credit for the Relief Package they voted against, at least the parts that bring money to their district.

                    Some in my Indivisible group, and those in neighboring towns in the District have attempted to get Cawthorn to come for a Town Hall in the area. He has not shown enthusiasm.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • I can’t imagine that Cawthorn or any of them are too enthusiastic about leaving themselves exposed to the criticism that they are due during a town hall or any other in person interaction with voters. The quality of Republican politician that is getting elected nowadays reflects their interest in and regard for actual governance. You can’t run a legislature if these are the people you have elected. Just another nail in the coffin of our democracy.

                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • The GOP does appear to have hatched a generation of candidates who actually believe the “Government is the enemy.” rhetoric which their elders deployed so cynically and effectively. And, the current crop were trained in the years of the party being mostly in the minority in at least one house of Congress and/or out of the White House with leadership committed to the strategy of total opposition and refusal to compromise. It is all they know.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!
                      Boehner’s memoir that is to come out this month is probably one of the few Republican books that I’d consider getting. I probably wait until it is available through the library, though. He talks about what it was like realizing that the establishment Repubes had lost it to the cray-cray caucus. It must’ve been a very sobering moment when that came about.

                      I remember this quote by Barry Goldwater, “Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise. I know, I’ve tried to deal with them.” The ironic thing is that he’s as much to blame for the intransigence of the GQP as anyone.

                      So, the question becomes is the extreme partisanship by the GQP the inevitable outcome of a two-party system? Extreme partisanship will destroy a democracy, so if the two-party system will eventually lead to one or both becoming completely uncompromising and intransigent perferring autocrfacy to democrfacy, should we be agitating for a parliamentary constitution?

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Any duopoly that becomes, form one side a struggle for monopoly, calls on the other side to surrender or fight as fiercely for the monopoly. This is how symmetrical schizmogenisis works. We do need to somehow curtail the influence of the two parties, and that is largely about money, the outrageously escalating cost of running for office. Several of The Founders worried loudly about the dangers of “factions”. We are there. A parliamentary system can be as vulnerable to the problem as ours, and also to the paralysis of inability to form a governing coalition (think of Italy and recently Israel). The question is how to strongly incentivize centrist independents and genuine negotiated compromise around a core consensus of ways and means to the general good. How can we get there from where we are? I don’t know, but it has to be a goal.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Yeah, that is right. Polarization is still possible in a parliamentary system. Our real problem is money in the system. I cannot believe that John Roberts actually opined that money was not corrupting. Unfortunately, it turns into something of a Catch-22: you need to elect people willing to vote for reforms, but to elect them you have to beat the corruption that they’re trying to reform.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • That is the trap we are in, and exactly one of the things the current rash of GOP state level legislation on elections is designed to preserve and next structural level down from racism (Which is itself a fundamentally corrupt system feature.).

                      Liked by 1 person

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