Online petitions through sites like Change.org can be persuasive to elected officials if they get enough traction. You know who else gets traction? Lobbyists.
Amplifyd, a new Bay Area startup that calls itself a "crowdsourced social activism platform," lets anyone with a couple bucks to spare hire their own lobbyist, who will call up your local elected official and give them a piece of your mind. Admittedly, professional political lobbying, with all the money and influence it involves, is much more likely to get a senator's attention. But $4.95 (the price of a lobbying call on Amplifyd) is a reasonable price for the services rendered.
Amplifyed has only been live for a few days; so far, there are campaign pages for 11 political issues, including gun control, drug sentencing, and fracking bans. One campaign, entitled "Enough! All Gun Sales Should Be Subject to Background Checks!" urges supporters to hire a lobbyist to call a local representative:
Congress has traditionally been a road block for any smarter gun control policy. Your representative and the rest of Congress has the power to introduce and support legislation for background checks on all gun sales.
The majority of the money paid for the call goes to a gun safety movement called Everytown. Sometimes, organizations benefitting from a campaign (like Everytown, an organization funded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg) make the calls themselves, but individuals can also sign up to become paid callers for campaigns, garnering a base rate of $1 per call.
Check out all the active campaigns here.