Strikingly, little systematic study of the relationship between democracy and terrorism has been undertaken. This article addresses this lacuna by laying some groundwork for further analytical study of the issues. It does so, first, by suggesting a family of independent variables related to the concept of political access that might be employed in this research; and second, by introducing a more ... [Show full abstract] expansive set of dependent variables, which will help capture the diverse effects of political access on militant group activity. The bulk of the paper examines the variety of causal logics that could potentially connect democracy and terrorist group activity, drawing from five analytical approaches to understanding terrorist motivation evident in the literature. Two major conclusions follow from the analysis. First, the democracy and terrorism debate constitutes not one research question, but many. Second, the prediction that follows from many approaches to terrorist motivation is not that democracy should promote an easy, inevitable lessening of terrorism. Rather, a more refined understanding of when democracy, or other forms of political access, may reduce violence or yield other desirable (and undesirable) outcomes is essential.