Hoplophobia, n. Irrational, morbid fear of guns (c. 1980, coined by Col. Jeff Cooper, from the Greek hoplites, weapon; see his book Principles of Personal Defense). May cause sweating, faintness, discomfort, rapid pulse, nausea, sleeplessness, nondescript fears, more, at mere thought of guns. Presence of working firearms may cause panic attack. Hoplophobe, hoplophobic.
Hoplophobes are common and should never be involved in setting gun policies. Point out hoplophobic behavior when noticed, it is dangerous, sufferers deserve pity, and should seek treatment. When confronted about their condition, hoplophobes typically go into denial, a common characteristic of the affliction. Sometimes helped by training, or by coaching at a range, a process known to psychiatry as "desensitization," a useful methodology in treating many phobias.
Hoplophobic behavior is often obvious from self-evident irrational responses to real-life situations, and is frequently seen in the news media and public debate. When a criminal commits a crime using a gun, hoplophobes often seek to disarm, or make lists of, innocent people who didn't do anything, an irrational suggestion.
The idea of creating an enormously expensive government-run 90-million-name database of legitimate gun owners -- which by definition would not include armed criminals -- is a prime example of an irrational hoplophobic response to the issue of crime. How the writing of your name in such a list would help stop crime is never even addressed. (See, "The Only Question About Gun Registration")
An effort is underway nationally to have hoplophobia recognized in the DSM, the official directory of mental ailments. Resistance from elements in the medical profession suggest this may be quite difficult, but that does not reduce the importance of recognizing a widespread, virulent, detrimental mental condition commonly found in the populace. The actual number of undiagnosed hoplophobes is unknown, but believed to be in the tens of millions.
Read Dr. Sarah Thompson's brilliant essay on the medical nature of this afflicition, the article that got the ball rolling on serious medical study of a condition affecting millions of Americans.
Hoplophobes are dangerous. They should not be involved in setting public policy.
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