The use of guns to intimidate and threaten voters, elected officials, and peaceful demonstrators poses a serious threat to our democracy.
When extremists are given free reign to use firearms to harass and intimidate, the concept of “liberty and justice for all” is threatened. Throughout 2020, groups of armed extremists intimidated and harassed lawmakers and peaceful demonstrators, sometimes provoking violent confrontations. These undemocratic displays culminated on January 6, 2021, when insurrectionists stormed the United States Capitol. In the days following the attack, police seized guns Molotov cocktails, flex cuffs, and hundreds of rounds of ammunitions from the rioters.
The Second Amendment does not sanction insurrection, 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 state laws prohibiting firearms at polling places, election offices where votes are counted, and at state capitols where democratic debate takes place
- Passing state laws banning open carry of firearms at permitted protests and demonstrations
- Passing or strengthening existing laws prohibiting private paramilitary groups and ensuring elected civilian oversight of any militia activity
- Passing federal legislation establishing domestic terrorism offices in DHS, DOJ, and FBI and require these agencies to take specified steps to prevent and report on domestic terrorism
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.Contact
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Nearly 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?