The NRA On Letters To The Editor, And Other Media Postings

The National Rifle Association has some sage advice for those who would like to lobby for rational gun laws and truth in propaganda.

I have been getting Letters to the Editor published for more than 40 years, and my count is well over 1,000. And my advice is a great deal simpler. First, use a typewriter or word processor. Few in the media can, or have the patience to, read handwritten documents anymore.

Second, Keep it current. Editors memories go stale after three days, so if you are going to respond do it quickly. Your letter should be in the editors hand within three days. If possible e-mail or FAX the text to the paper, publication, or station, with a note that the letter itself is in the mail. And make sure the letter IS in the mail!

Third, keep it brief. 150 to 200 words or 750 to 1,000 characters seems to be the limit of most editors attention span. Longer items will be much less likely to be published.

Fourth, keep it polite. Even if the item that offended you was written by a moron. Most anti-gun screeds are, but they do not like to be reminded of the fact.

Fifth, back any fact based statement you make with an indication of where that fact came from; “FBI Uniform Crime Report;” “ATF Online Firearms Trace Data,” or some other verifiable source.

You can put the web addresses as footnotes to your LTE if it would break the flow of your text. If you are responding on the internet, try to leave a “google it” or link such as “the official numbers are here.

If you have no internet source but are quoting a paper document say so. “The Statistical Abstract of the United States for 1971, Page 75” is a typical reference. And you can bet someone will check you on it, so make sure it is right.

So that’s it. To be read and appear in print, your letter or other communication must be prompt, brief, and polite. To be credible it must contain verifiable facts. And if it is not crowded out by the response to other fictions, it will have an excellent chance of being printed or otherwise published.


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