If Americans Really Want to Address Gun Violence, It’s Democracy, Stupid

Tim Libretti, PhD
4 min readJun 7, 2022
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The déjà vu massacre of school children in Uvalde, Texas seems to have heated Americans’ frustrations with the inaction of their political leaders to a raging boil.

Turn on the news, and one hears outrage over the out-sized influence of the NRA and gun lobbyists over the Republican Party. Pundits and viewers are sickened by the spectacle of Congressional Republicans repetitively chanting the same hackneyed talking points that deny access to guns, particularly assault rifles, has anything to do with the epidemic of gun violence in America.

And, without a doubt, the outrage is justified. I share it.

Typically the solution to addressing the problem of political leaders who don’t represent their constituents is to vote them out of office, to exercise the democratic process itself.

Maybe this sounds simple, but in so many ways it doesn’t seem to be. Even when voters, living in regions where polls have indicated strong support for strict gun regulation, have had the opportunity to vote directly for ballot measures to enforce gun controls, the measures have failed.

More to the point, though, is that even the window of democracy is closing upon us as a form of action for Americans to address their frustrations over governmental failures to address the life and death issues that concern them.

In a recent opinion piece, Washington Post columnist Max Boot attempted to sound the alarm over the ongoing Republican assault on democracy itself — and about the fact that Americans seem to be in denial about the fragility of democracy in America.

Boot reminds us, for example, that, “A majority of House Republicans already voted in 2020 to throw out electoral college votes for Biden. Even more are likely to do so in 2024 after four years of Trumpist purges.”

And yet polls and pundits do not yet foresee a surge of voters foregoing their Republican leanings or allegiances in the upcoming midterms.

If not in denial, Americans just might not care about democracy, by which I mean they might not fully recognize how every issue they care about is bound up with and depends upon democracy itself when it comes to their ability to…

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Tim Libretti, PhD

Professor of Literature, Political Economy enthusiast, Dad, always thinking about the optimal world