Why current petition trends aren’t working – 2013 example: Firearms background checks

So, I signed a petition online regarding the Keystone XL pipeline the other day because in general, I’m against the expansion of fossil fuel dependancy and growing environmental risks of man made pollution.   Since then I’ve recieved more than 10 different calls to speak up… and it got me thinking, this is turning into a joke.  How can I believe that there is value in 100 different organizations saying their members want something will be effective?  I mean if I say yes to 10 different petitions I’m still only 1 voice, will any of the 10 be more effective than the other?  Is it possible that they are hurting one another because they are not unified?

I just did a quick look on Google, to look at how many different petitions in the United States that  I could currently sign telling my congressional representatives to support Background checks for firearms purchasesI understand that this topic is a touchy one, everybody has an opinion one way or the other.  Regardless of your personal opinion, this blog is about the process of communicating with government in a way that effectively brings change on a unified front.  This, in my opinion, is the most important aspect of my rant today.

Here’s a list of websites I found: http://www.Change.org, http://americansforresponsiblesolutions.org/, http://www.signon.org, https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/, http://boldprogressives.org/, http://www.ipetitions.com, http://www.thepetitionsite.com, http://www.demandaction.org, http://www.pachurchesadvocacy.org, http://www.campaigns.dailykos.com, http://www.democrats.com, http://www.workthreat.com, http://www.forcechange.com, http://www.ryot.org, http://www.educationvotes.nea.org, http://www.mayorsagainstillegalguns.org, http://www.newsericks.com, http://www.causes.com/putthegunsdown (I stopped at page 3 because news stories were filtering in). 

And yet the bill didn’t pass.  One might blame the National Rifle Association (NRA) for pushing advertizing that focused on American’s loosing their rights as Americans.  Regardless of your stance, the NRA did exactly what they were supposed to for their members, provide a singular unified voice representing the memberships interest.  There is no ‘hold on government’  that they have greater than any other organization in America.  What separates them they are is organized.  It’s the NRA – not the voice of fifteen or twenty different entities saying something close to what the other is saying, that spoke on a singular front.

What’s important about this?  Background checks for gun purchases have been a hot topic of late, and they are something that – to the obvious dismay of President Obama, did not pass our bureaucratic process to arrive on his desk for signature into law.  One of the biggest complaints from the president is that the majority of American’s supported this kind of change and yet the people’s representatives in each state placed their votes based on a unified last minute effort to these representatives. 

I propose that what the NRA did most effectively, is offer an opportunity for environmentalists to learn from the successes of others.  How many organizations can you name that teach about the environment, that speak about conservation and responsibility, about recycling and pollution?   I bet there are a bunch and I propose that each wants you to consider them an expert on the topic.  I can name over ten  Heck that’s what I want from you, to consider me an expect on the topic of plastics in our environment and how we create solutions.

Now tell me who your authorities on firearms are… and I just got you!  Of course, it’s the NRA, even if you hate guns or have never touched one the primary expert you will think of is singular!  Now maybe you are a firearms owner and maybe you have a local shop or friend to turn to, but for the majority of American’s the NRA is the unified umbrella expert.   The methodology: One petition, one voice, one direction – and it worked.  It’s been working, it continues to work.

What’s the point?  We environmentalists need a unified clearing house, a place where one topic, one  battle at a time we speak with one voice – an that single voice would be so loud, and so strong, that companies and elected officials would be required to take action, to listen, to become educated, and to become part of the change.  My recommendation, use the official government website and share the same petition among like minded groups!


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