Before I started advocating for gun safety, I didn’t know what a Lobby Day or an Advocacy Day was. Now, I can tell you my experience from yesterday. A Lobby Day is a powerful method for a group to sway legislators to vote for gun violence prevention legislation.
Why attend a gun safety bill lobby day?
Our government representatives often struggle with their voting decisions. For this reason, they rely on public input for help. Besides the helpful input, politicians don’t like to vote against public opinion. So they want to hear from their constituents. And they want to hear before they take a vote, not after.
In general, those that take the time to visit the State House must be the most motivated and therefore are the best indicators of public opinion. Especially since on a lobby day, they are visited by a group of people at the same time. This makes a powerful statement. They usually believe that many more people who couldn’t take the time, believe the same thing.
What happens at a lobby day?
I can tell you what happened at mine. All the advocates gathered together beforehand in a large room at the Massachusetts State House. We had a standing room only crowd of 175 people, mostly with Mom’s Demand Action tee shirts on.
First to speak were several motivational speakers. Representative Marjory Decker said, “The idea that we’ve done our gun bills and that’s enough, well, those days are so behind us. It’s never enough. It’s not enough until we actually know that everything we have done allows people to live their lives and not unnecessarily be murdered at the hands of a gun.”
She was followed by several who spoke of personal experiences with family tragedies at the hands of gun violence.
Guidelines were given to us with some simple rules as to how the lobbying would proceed. A review of the three bills to be lobbied was explained. All the information necessary to advocate was provided.
At this event, which was in the middle of the day, some simple food was provided.
Then, everyone broke up into groups by their districts. That way groups can form to meet the legislators together. The support of others is helpful. A spokesperson for the group was appointed.
At another lobby day, we were instructed to visit the office of our own state Senator and state Representative. They are the ones you have the most sway with. But at this event, we were asked to visit three of the committee members who are deciding whether or not to release the bills for a full vote by the House and Senate.
Our group of twenty proceeded to the legislators’ offices. Each was expecting us and the approximate time had been prescheduled. At the offices, two legislators were ready to hear us and a third appointed an assistant to meet with us.
The leader of our group started the discussion. She explained the bills and encouraged others to speak if they’d like. The discussions lasted about twenty minutes. Each legislator was very receptive to speaking with us.
Finally, our group leader reported back on whether the legislator seemed to be in favor of the bills.
What bills were promoted?
These are the bills we were lobbying for. Usually legislators like to know the bill number.
- S1388 would require a detailed analysis of MA crime gun trace data to better understand the origins of crime guns. 👍
- H3843 would ban all 3D printed weapons and “ghost guns” which are undetectable by metal detectors. 👍
- H2091 would require live firearms practice to obtain a firearms license. Currently, you never need to practice firing a gun to obtain a firearms license. 👍
Lobby Days at the State House, for me, have been a rewarding experience. I had my say where it counts. The legislators or their aids gladly received my opinion and seemed to recognize my efforts.