The use of guns to intimidate and threaten voters, elected officials, and peaceful demonstrators poses a serious threat to our democracy.

On July 4, 2022, a 21-year-old white man slaughtered seven people and wounded dozens more when he shot into a crowd in Highland Park, Illinois. A mass shooting on a day commemorating America’s liberation painfully underscores the threat that guns pose to freedom and democracy.

American exceptionalism—the notion that our unique political system has enabled prosperity unparalleled elsewhere in the world—has endured for nearly 250 years, but is now being threatened by a different type of American exceptionalism: an epidemic of gun violence and far-right extremist gun culture unrivaled in peer nations.

The events of January 6, 2021, made all too clear that some Americans are willing to use violence to advance their political objectives. But both before and after the attack on the US Capitol, there has been a proliferation in incidents of people using guns to harass and intimidate others, including terrorizing lawmakers, elected officials, school board members, voters, and election workers.

The Second Amendment does not sanction insurrection or political violence, and when a person carrying a gun uses it to intimidate someone, they are infringing on that person’s First Amendment rights. Gun safety laws are integral to a safe and free democracy that does not elevate the Second Amendment right above all others.

Our Guns & Democracy project highlights the risks and tragic outcomes that can result when rights are not constrained by responsibilities. It also points legislators and the public towards policy solutions that will help strengthen, rather than weaken, our democratic institutions. 

policy solutions to armed extremism

For decades, the gun lobby has stoked fear to turn a profit, positioning guns as critical for defense against criminals, immigrants, and a tyrannical government. Meanwhile, they’ve sought to eradicate practically every gun law on the books, arguing that more guns will make us safer. The consequences of this recklessness and greed have included the tragic deaths of nearly 40,000 Americans every year. And now our democracy is under threat.

Commonsense gun laws are not only fully in line with the Constitution—they’re also supported by the vast majority of Americans. Giffords is fighting to help draft, enact, and defend gun safety laws that will bring an end to our nation’s gun violence epidemic and counter the deleterious role that armed extremists are having on our right to free speech, peaceable assembly, and safe and secure elections. Rights come with responsibilities, and understanding that the Second Amendment allows reasonable limits on gun ownership and use will keep us all healthy and safe, while protecting our democracy. Our legislative aims include passing laws that:

Democracy isn’t an end result—it’s an evolving, constant process, and it requires all of our active participation. We must ensure that no American feels threatened by armed extremists when exercising their right to vote, legislate, or peaceably protest. The future of our country depends on it.


Our experts can speak to the full spectrum of gun violence prevention issues. Have a question? Email us at



the courts

Explore our work defending lifesaving gun laws in the courts and fighting to debunk the gun lobby’s dangerous arguments about the Second Amendment.

Read More


Over 40,000 Americans lose their lives to gun violence every year. Giffords Law Center is leading the fight to save lives by championing gun safety policies and holding the gun lobby accountable. Will you join us?