One open carry guy goes postal, killing himself and a cop’s daughter, and the whole movement becomes The Enemy Within. To the point where salon.com declares Gun activists have a new craze — and it’s more dangerous than you think. They must have misplaced their spears (exclamation marks). I wonder if we could condemn the entire anti-gun movement by the example of Karl Pierson, the Arapahoe High School shooter who supported gun control. Or Chris Dorner, the cop killer who also supported gun control. Anyway, to be fair . . .
Matt Valentine doesn’t lead his dietribe [sic] with open carry practitioner Robert Pratt’s murder-suicide. It’s buried in an article boasting more psychobabble than a Dr. Phil-a-thon, all of which is designed to prove that open carry is bad for the heart, bad for the mind, bad for the deaf and bad for the blind. Yes, it makes some men crazy . . .
Habituating people to guns so that they no longer perceive any threat, however, might not be prudent. After all, fear can be a useful survival instinct. “I don’t know to what extent it is beneficial or even possible to reduce fears that are actually very adaptive or normal or useful fears,” [University of Quebec psychology professor Isabelle] Blanchette says. Without a fear of snakes, for example, we might behave more carelessly around them — and get bitten. So it’s better to be completely oblivious to a hidden threat than it is to be aware of a potential threat. Gotcha. Somehow I don’t think Blanchette or Valentine understand the concept of “gun normalization” or “desensitization.”
“The ‘threat superiority effect’ is the tendency for people to be able to pick out very quickly in their environment things that might pose a threat to their security — anything that might be dangerous,” explains Isabelle Blanchette, a professor of psychology at the University of Quebec. “People have a tendency to be able to see these things before they see other things.”
Psychologists have theorized that the threat superiority effect is a product of evolution — we have adapted the ability to immediately identify threats like snakes and spiders so we can avoid them. Blanchette’s research shows that people have a similarly quick reaction to seeing a weapon: We’ll immediately spot a gun among several other distracting objects.
When you see the threat, your body will respond before you even think about it. “The most instantaneous thing that happens is that your pupils will dilate,” Blanchette says. “You can have other physiological reactions that are associated with fear. There are changes in your body, such as in your heart rate and respiration rate.”
Yes, hoplophobia is a terrible thing. I heartily recommend exposure therapy. Something along the lines of . . . open carry. For both the afflicted and those around them.