Maybe we need more armed civilians, or maybe we need more stringent gun laws. These are examples of two polar opposite views represented by two polar opposite political ideologies. Admittedly, with each new shooting on the news, I feel a little more extreme in my own views on what should be done : "Melt every gun down, along with all those worthless pennies, and let's move on to a better America!"

The extremism bleeding out of the Middle East appears to be creating several different types of extremism in the U.S. We have those few who align themselves with ISIS and instigate attacks on American citizens. Then, we have those who want to take every firearm away in a paradigm shift-like legislative move. Finally, we have one other faction that wants everyone to carry a gun so that "the next guy" will die in a furious crossfire along with half the people trying to kill him. Opinions are valuable. I believe that. However, unless you are a lawmaker, your opinion does not carry much clout in what actually happens in the government.

Luckily for us, we can give our opinions more clout by directing them toward the people who depend on our votes to remain in office. My own prediction is that anything that is eventually done about our gun problem in America will rest in the purple middle ground between Red and Blue ideologies. This can only happen if both sides make a plea for change--even if their pleas are radically different. Furthermore, they must plea to the right people. My goal is not to tell everyone who feels passionately about firearm politics to quit complaining. I simply want to make sure that those who are in charge are hearing those complaints and working to integrate them into meaningful action.

Lawmakers drew a lot of backlash when they tweeted about "Thoughts and Prayers." People felt like this was a cop-out reaction that blocks us from taking real measures to change. "They aren't enough," they cried!

I would like to add a third category to the list of things that are not enough: Cathartic blog posts. Thoughts, prayers, and scathing political rhetoric can all be helpful if directed to the right people. As citizens, I submit that we contact our state and federal lawmakers with our thoughts and feelings on the gun epidemic. Below is the letter I sent my relevant lawmakers. Feel free to use it, alter it, or do whatever you want with it. If it is too different from your own opinion, then make up a new one.

Dear [My Lawmaker],

Thank you for your service of our country. I am sending this letter to inform you, as one of your constituents, about my feelings toward the current epidemic of gun violence in our country.
The media references statistics a lot, and those are often debated for their quality and bias. So I will not trouble you with them here. What I am sure of are my own feelings. I am deeply saddened by the continued problem of mass shootings and gun violence in America.

Yesterday, I saw the U.S. flag at half-mast, and my friend and I could not figure out why it was at half-mast. This is not because we had not heard of the tragedy for which it was lowered. It was because there have been too many in recent months to determine who we are mourning on any specific day. We thought it might be for Paris, or the Colorado Planned Parenthood shooting, or San Bernadino.

All of these are worthy of our tears and mourning, no doubt. Yet, it is getting to the point when our flag never waves high. It has been permanently relegated to a lower status in a very literal way because we are not putting an end to gun violence.

I respectfully request that we do more as a state to keep our citizens alive. I respectfully request further legislation to regulate the sale of guns so that they may only be used by those who defend others from harm. My thoughts and prayers are with you as you take action against this enduring state of national tragedy.

Thank you for your time.


[Citizen's Name Here]