Is Anyone Listening?


Emily Walker, Cen10 News Reporter

Involved citizens cause change. Maybe not in those words but always in that voice: confident, strong, and all too often a little too idealistic.

I would like to consider myself one of those involved citizens. I attend city council meetings, read the news, and occasionally write letters to my state representatives on issues I feel most pressing to my community and myself.

In a perfect world this is where any problem ends, send a letter or email, express your opinions and call for action, this is met with equal response and support from the government that represents you, a perfect fix.

However, most often this is where the problem begins.

In June of 2016, I took that step and wrote my first letter to the Texas senator, John Cornyn. The issue was over the need for stricter regulations on guns following the Orlando nightclub attack and other mass shootings that year.

For hours I researched, wrote, re-wrote and edited. Spilling my heart and developing an argument that I thought, and still think would make for a safer place to live.

In that letter, I questioned my personal safety, asked for an explanation of his policies and views and what he was going to do to fulfil his responsibilities to protect the people he represents, and lastly demanded more regulations.

“His” response, left me feeling more confused, unheard, and most of all, like what I said didn’t matter.  

Out of the issues I outlined, the only thing that was addressed was his policies and nothing else. Everything that involved citizens or our concern just wasn’t there, almost like what we have to say doesn’t matter.

While I wasn’t expecting anything detailed or even for it to agree with every point I made- I do live in Texas and asking for stricter gun laws- I was not expecting for such a copy and pasted response. I could write about hating gun laws and how the Second Amendment should never be restricted and the same letter I received would apply.

When I receive a letter like this, so robotic and vague, my only assumption is that my words were only seen by the inhuman eyes of a computer. But a computer can’t solve these problems. There is no algorithm for peace or change.

I understand that an individual response to each and every letter that floods government offices is unreal and impossible to do. I’m not asking for that. What I’m asking for is a government that follows through with its promise to value citizen involvement.

Government offices may full well read every letter and truly feel grateful for the people who take the time to write them. But that’s not the way it comes across. Despite what the truth of the matter is, how it is perceived is infinitely more impactful in the public’s opinion.

During this time where news headlines scream violence, fear, and uncertainty the voice of the citizen is one of the most powerful forces. But this power is limited when those, like me, write their government and walks away from the situation feeling unheard and unvalued.

But, when we scream loud enough they will be forced to listen.

Unfortunately, like mass shootings, lack of response from our government, is not a one time case. It’s shocking to think that commercial stores are doing more in the way of gun control than the government. High school students have turned into protesters and yet action from lawmakers seems minimal.

The voices of victims are not enough, we are all affected, so we cannot let their voices stand alone and silence is NOT an opinion.

Accepting silence makes the public just as bad as the lawmakers. By allowing our voice to striped and belittled we allow the limitation for progress and change. We’ve been brainwashed to think that it is not the citizen’s place to get involved in the government, but nothing could be farther from the truth.

We must firmly stand on the rug the government is trying to pull out from under us. Despite how it may appear writing, calling and emailing representatives has the power to set great things in motion.

An issue can never be solved if it is never talked about. A policy can never be changed if it is never questioned. Citizens are the key to peace, we cannot ignore that.

If we believe we can do nothing, nothing will be done. We leave the bodies of children in the hands of lawmakers who ‘represent’ us. But one look at the news shows they are scared of change -change that saves lives- but what they should be scared of is the power of a united people who want to be active in the government. Terrifying.

When will people realize that the Second Amendment has a body count? When will people care about losing children more than losing their guns? When can I feel safe to walk the halls of my school? When will people speak out for change? When will our government listen?


The letter I received from Texas representative John Cornyn with highlighted major points.