Writing to Elected Officials

Here are some things to keep in mind when writing to elected officials:

  • A letter to an elected official should be in standard English, not colloquial.
  • Letters should not exceed one page. If your message is really short, send a postcard.
  • Letters should be signed and include your name, address including zip code, and possibly your e-mail address. Both letters and postcards should include your return address
  • A hand-written letter is more personal than a typed letter and therefore has more impact. Letters, particularly hand-written ones, are more effective than emails sent to websites.
  • The content should be factual but should include a personal angle – that’s more powerful. For example, someone you know has been killed or wounded by a gun, or someone you know is suffering from mental illness and would be in danger if he/she had access to a gun, or someone you know lives near the site of one of the massacres and that really brings it home to you, or ever since the Newtown massacre you keep thinking about it and thus it has changed your life… surely you can think of a personal angle.

Letters to Congressional offices on Capitol Hill have to go through security which causes considerable delay.  To avoid this delay, you can fax your letter to the D.C. office and mail the hard copy subsequently.  Letters addressed to a Congressional District office tend to have much shorter delays

If you are at a loss of how to start, below is an example letter.  It has three paragraphs that work together to make your point.

  • The first paragraph lays out what you want the official to do.
  • The second paragraph tells why you care about the issue, and why the official should care.  Your reason can be constitutional, e.g. that the right to life and liberty trump second amendment rights or  it can be the horror of Sandy Hook and the widespread loss of life – now leading automobile accidents as a cause of death – guns are causing.  It can be an account of how gun violence has affected you.  Whatever it is that makes you want to see sensible reforms made to our nation’s gun laws.
  • The third paragraph points out that the reforms you are asking for do not take guns away from anyone, and that they will make Virginia and America safer for everyone.

SAMPLE LETTER:

Senator/Representative XYZ
### Senate/House Office Building
Washington, DC  22510 (S) or 22515 (H)

Dear Senator / Representative [insert name],

As your constituent, I strongly urge you to work with your colleagues to enact legislation to reduce gun violence in our country. The safety of our children and of all of us depends on the action you take to limit military-style weapons and high capacity magazines and to make background checks universal.

PERSONALIZED SECTION

I was deeply shaken by the massacre at Sandy School in Newtown.  In the short span of 5 minutes 20 innocent children were killed, and 6 courageous educators died trying to protect their charges.  Twenty-six families – more than a hundred parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters were traumatized by those five minutes of gun violence.  That doesn’t include the many schoolmates and friends of the slain children whose lives have been affected.  I am asking you to support a few sensible reforms that will make us all safer and make it less likely that a similar massacre will happen here.

The reforms I am asking for do not infringe on the Second-Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens and would not lead to gun registration or confiscation. These reforms would make it more difficult for criminals and dangerous people to acquire guns.

I hope I can count on you.

Sincerely,

[your signature & printed name].

One last tip:

Stick to one issue, i.e., gun violence prevention. If you also want to write about the environment or immigration, or whatever, write a separate letter for each issue.

For each official, the DC address, DC fax number, VA address and website for e-mailing are listed below.

Senate:

Senator Tim Kaine
In DC: B40C Dirksen Senate Office Bldg, Washington, D.C. 20510    Fax: (202) 228 6363
In VA: 756 Park Avenue N.W., P.O.Box 1300, Norton, VA 24273
Website: www.kaine.senate.gov/contact.cfm

Senator Mark Warner
In DC:  475 Russell Senate OfficeBldg, Washington, D.C. 20510    Fax: (202) 224 6295
In VA: 8000 Towers Crescent Drive, Suite 200, Vienna, VA 22182
Website: www.warner.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact

Chmn of House JudiciaryCommittee (Lead for gun violence issues):

Rep. Bob Goodlatte
In DC: 2309 Russell House Office Bldg, Washington, D.C. 20515    Fax: (202) 225 9681
In VA: 10 Franklin Rd S.E., Suite 540, Roanoke, VA 24011
Website : goodlatte.house.gov/contacts/new

Majority Leader:

Rep. Eric Cantor
In DC: 303 Cannon House Office Bldg., Washington, D.C. 20515   Fax: (202) 225 0011
In VA: 763 Madison Rd, #207, Culpeper, VA 22701
Website: cantor.house.gov/contact

8th District:

Rep. Jim Moran
In DC: 2252 Rayburn House Office Bldg, Washington, D.C. 20515    Fax: (202) 225 0017
In VA:  333 N. Fairfax Street, Suite 201, Alexandria, VA 22314
Website: moran.house.gov/contact-me/email-me

10th District:

Rep. Frank Wolf
In DC: 233 Cannon House Office Bldg., Washington, D.C. 20515    Fax: (202) 225 0437
In VA: 13873 Park Center Rd, Suite 130, Herndon, VA 20171
Website: wolfforms.house.gov/contact-form

11th District:

Rep. Gerry Connolly
In DC:  424 Cannon House Office Bldg., Washington, D.C. 20515    Fax: (202) 225 3071
In VA:  4115 Annandale Rd, Suite 103, Annandale, VA 22003
Website: connolly.house.gov/contact-gerry/

5th District:

Rep. Robert Hurt
In DC: 125 Cannon House Office Bldg., Washington, DC 20515    Fax: (202) 225-5681
In VA: 686 Berkmar Circle, Charlottesville, VA 22901
Website: hurt.house.gov/index.cfm/email-me

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