By Lee Mengitsu
August 2, 2016

Caleb Webb is a young grassroots lobbyist in Arizona who’s passionate about commonsense gun laws. In light of Generation Progress’ upcoming #Fight4AFuture Week of Action, we spoke with Caleb about his experience meeting with his U.S. House Representative’s staff and how other young people can do the same. If you want to use your voice to speak up for commonsense gun laws, schedule a meeting with your representative and take part in our week of action

Generation Progress: If a young person wants to set up an in-district meeting with their representatives, where do you suggest they start?

Caleb Webb: I would suggest you start at the website, where you can enter your zip code and find out what district you’re in and who your local representative is. It’ll also give you a listing of their offices, including their in-district office and their DC office.

GP: Who participated in your meeting? Was it just you and the congressional staff, or did you have other people join you?

Webb: It was just myself and one congressional staff member.

GP: What topics did you focus on? Did you have a direct ask?

Webb: We talked mostly about guns and the congresswoman’s positions. One of my main concerns was how the NRA has contributed to her campaign, though I understand the distinction between what the congressional office does and what the campaign does. One thing I wanted to come up but didn’t was some of the shootings we’ve seen this summer and what my congresswoman is doing about them.

I feel like I could walk into [my representative’s office] at any time and voice any concern that I have. That’s one thing that I hope people learn from this upcoming week of action: more community members like me can form those relationships with their congressperson’s staff members. Whenever you have a concern, you have a way to access your congress member and voice your opinions.

GP: Do you have any advice to engage with reluctant or hesitant elected officials or their staff?

Webb: I definitely recommend thinking a lot about how you approach the office. We’re all passionate, but when it comes down to it, carry yourself in a respectful manner when you’re approaching staff or the elected official. Let them know how you feel, and ask for a meeting. And no matter what, always follow up. The follow-up is almost as important as the approach.

GP: How did you follow up?

Webb: The week after I met with my representative’s office I was at a going-away party and I asked if my opinion had gotten up to the congresswoman and I was told it did. Actually, just last week I was at a meeting with another candidate after a contractor’s association meeting and I didn’t mean to, but I bumped into the congresswoman and I had a short conversation with her about it. I don’t think she’s going to vote the way I want her to but I felt like my concern was voiced in the way that Congress needs, especially the House. They need to bring up important bills related to gun violence for a vote, at least give us that.

GP: What was your approach—did you call, email?

Webb: I always like to find out when my representatives are in town. I’ll find an event where they’re speaking in the community or at event like a ribbon cutting ceremony, and approach them. I recommend introducing yourself, letting them know what you’re passionate about and the issues you’re involved with. Either that, or make sure you leave your contact information with their staff, because nine times out of 10, they’ll follow up with you again.

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