In addition to President Obama’s visit to Connecticut yesterday on behalf of the Sandy Hook victims, family members came to Capitol Hill to rally behind pending gun control legislation in an effort to urge Washington lawmakers to reduce gun violence. Their urging comes at a time when 13 Republican senators are threatening to block and stall the proposed gun-control legislation package with a filibuster. The bill, which has been called “a wish list for gun-control advocates,” includes proposals such as background checks and record-keeping of gun sales.
The family members’ timely visit to Capitol Hill comes after many states, including Connecticut, have passed their own gun control legislation in the wake of the Sandy Hook Massacre. Victims’ family members are set to meet with a dozen Democratic and Republican senators. The parents of the Sandy Hook victims, as well as the non-profit group Sandy Hook Promise, have also signed with lobbying firm Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti in order to gain more influence on arms-control legislation in Washington.
It looks like the Sandy Hook Promise Twitter page is doing a fine job of generating support for greater gun control laws without any help from a lobbying group. With over 436 tweets and 5,235 followers, users are signing up on Twitter to sign the Sandy Hook Promise, a detailed letter to senators asking them to act swiftly in passing legislation to strengthen national gun laws.
I stand w/ @SandyHook. I’m making the ?#SandyHookPromise to keep my community & country safer from violence: ?http://www.sandyhookpromise.org/promise?recruiter_id=118745
If this pattern keeps up, it could become a Twitter trend and garner the support of senators both for and against the filibuster, and potentially encourage them to pass the legislation currently on the table.
Can social media channels like Twitter be more influential than an old-school political maneuver like the filibuster? Sure, you need 60 Senators to overturn a potential filibuster – but there’s nothing like thousands of Twitter followers or retweets to make a political impact. While their retweets or pledge on Twitter to sign the Sandy Hook Promise might not be count as votes in a congressional chamber, it’s hard not to give weight to the growing public support to pass and enact stricter gun control laws.
As more people “stand w/ @SandyHook” it’ll be interesting to see if senators are aware of the increasing power of social media and its effect on the political process. For elected officials, keeping track of social media trends is tantamount to keeping a pulse on public opinion. It can be a daunting task – even the @BarackObama account has been farmed out to a non-profit social media agency. But those senators looking to get reelected in next year’s midterms should heed to the growing influence of social media if they want to get a vote from the public’s chamber.