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Scream! (courtesy

Two members of Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership have written a serious-minded post on hoplohobia (fear of guns). You can read the full article after the jump [h/t]. After breaking my diet with a homemade waffle drenched in honest-to-God Vermont maple syrup, I’m wondering, Heath Ledger-like, why so serious? How about some pithier examples of hoplophobia, in the the style of Jeff “You Don’t Need an AK” Foxworthy? If you think a “shoulder thingie that goes up” is part of a deadly weapon rather than a simple shrug, you might be a hoplophobe. Your turn! . . .

You Might Be A Hoplophobe If …

I don’t like horror movies. There is nothing attractive about sitting and waiting for the monster to jump out of the dark screen at me, even though the fear is irrational. Hoplophobes are people who have an irrational fear of firearms. What is it like for them as they wait for their monster to attack, and can they be helped?

People with irrational fears of guns express those fears in several ways. They may experience guns as having lives of their own. They think a gun will jump off the dark shelf and attack on its own.

These exaggerations can seem funny to gun owners. Many of us take our friends shooting. We start them with low powered .22 rimfire weapons. These come in every size from child to adult. If they want more, there are mid-power firearm such as the .223. Originally designed to shoot small pests, this rifle throws a light bullet with little recoil. It can fit most adults when outfitted with an adjustable stock and comb.

Perhaps you caught on: we’ve just described the dreaded “assault rifle”.. as well as dozens of other firearms we’ve had for a hundred year. The hoplophobe sees them as death-dealing murder machines, though it remains a “girl’s gun” to many of us. Unfortunately, hoplophobia doesn’t end there.

…if you displace your anxieties onto others in order to feel better

Hoplophobes empower firearms in other ways. They invest these inanimate objects with the power to cloud men’s minds. They believe that guns sing an irresistible siren song that can seduce healthy people to unimaginable violence. They attribute evil intent more to guns than to those who wield them. Projecting this kind of influence onto guns may actually demonstrate the gun-hater’s fear of his neighbors. Such fear can be an oblique confession of the gun-haters’ own lack of self-control. They are displacing their own anxieties onto others in order to feel better about themselves.

…if your irrational attitude towards guns prevents you from addressing them logically

Condemnation plays an important part in their battle against irrational fear. The more strongly they exaggerate the power of firearms, the more energetic their attacks against gun and gun owners, the less they feel controlled by their fear. They empower the monster in order to vanquish it.

That sounds irrational to most of us, but hoplophobes can’t address firearms logically because of the overwhelming irrationality of their relationship to these devices of plastic and metal.

…if you proclaim your feelings about guns as loudly as possible

Many hoplophobes are unusually loud in their condemnation of guns and gun owners. Compare that to other fears we experience. We don’t hear people who are afraid of dogs or spiders condemn those animals with the vehemence that hoplophobes show for guns and gun owners.

Wealthy gun-phobics have spent scores of millions of dollars on their attacks. There may be method to their madness, some purpose to their high-pitched volume. What if these professional gun-haters are not afraid of guns at all? Professional actors are not afraid of monsters when they are off screen. The fear that movie actors portray in front of a camera is simply part of a role they play.

What if the professional gun-haters are more like actors playing to elicit our fears of guns and violence? They want us feel the emotions they portray in front of the news cameras. They want us to join in their tribal chant to slay the evil gun monster. This may also help explain why so many paid gun-haters have armed security guards protecting them where they live and work.

…if you have difficulty facing the idea of violence and injury

There is a more sympathetic way to understand avoidance of firearms. All guns are potentially lethal. As I explained to a young nurse who had just taken her first shots, all guns can kill, some more surely than others. Do you remember the videos they showed about car crashes in driver’s education class? Not fun. Imagining the use of lethal force is not attractive for most of us. Our respect for life is a good thing that we shouldn’t want to lose. This reluctance to look at human injury and death has important implications, both good and bad.

Most of us will never be violent towards another person. Unfortunately, we can carry that innocence too far. Some may be unable to respond aggressively even when that would be the only healthy response. They may reject the tools that would be needed so that they needn’t ever face their inadequacy.

…if you project your aversion to violence onto those who have to make split-second decisions

It takes great emotional maturity to observe violence, injury and death, especially when they result from hard choices that we or someone else had to make. We may also find ourselves reluctant to honor a guardian who does stop an evil act by means of lethal force. We may so need to imagine there can always be a perfect and peaceful outcome that we denigrate the guardian’s unavoidable decision.

Emotional wisdom accepts that peaceful outcomes are not always possible. A peaceful outcome might mean surrender, and sometimes the cost of surrender is too high. We know we should only use force proportional to the risk. We only use lethal force to protect human life. We have to remember the people a guardian saved as well as those he could not or was forced to hurt.

…if you claim your feelings supersede the autonomy and safety of others

The professional media campaign against guns and gun owners makes some very bold claims. Hoplophobes claim that their uneasiness around armed civilians is more important than the right of ordinary people to be able to protect themselves. Their fear is supposedly more important than our lives, our families, and our communities. These gun-phobes claim they know what is best for all of us. The result is that they treat gun owners as ignorant, less than equal and not worthy of respect. That is degrading, and demands an unjust sacrifice from everyone else to placate their irrational fear.

These fears need to be faced in ourselves and others. Only then can we make healthy decisions and live safer, less fearful lives.


Rob Morse – Rob Morse blogs, writes and podcasts about the right of self-defense. He competes in local IDPA matches and is an NRA pistol instructor.

Robert B Young, MD- Robert B. Young, MD is a psychiatrist practicing in Pittsford, NY, an associate clinical professor at the University of Rochester School of Medicine, and a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.

Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership, a project of the Second Amendment Foundation.


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    • LOL – no. That is a legitimate argument. And OC guys carrying el-cheapo AKs at port arms into Taco Bell to get attention are retards.

      Personally, I get the idea of open carry of pistols as a way to educate people and “normalize” firearms, although I’m not really interested in fighting the culture war while buying a Slushee. But people who disagree are not hoplophobes.

      • That depends Achmed. If a gun person can acknowledge that there are legitimate reasons, both pro and con to OC versus CC with out vicious attacks and denigrating descriptions of those that OC, those people I would say are not hoplophobes.

        But there are supposed gun people that viciously attack those of us that do OC..They ascribe the worst reasons for why we OC. They use much of the same dehumanizing, denigrating and derogatory descriptions of the OC’er, no different than the anti-gun people describe all gun owners.

        These are the gun people that I would say are actually hoplophobes in desquise. I believe these people are consumed with the fear of appearing different than the general population. Being the “other”, being the black sheep that is publicly stating they are no longer of the helpless, powerless and helpless mass of the larger herd.

        So they are not necessarily fearful of the gun directly, but they are fearful of the imagined rejection caused by the gun from the larger social group by OC’ing. So to compensate for this fear of rejection, they attack those of us that do have the courage of our convictions, that are not controlled by fear of being outside of the current societal norms.

      • “And OC guys carrying el-cheapo AKs at port arms into Taco Bell to get attention are retards. “


        You have some data to back that up? You know, some actual evidence regarding AK’s in Taco Bell and objective IQ measurements?

        I’m going out of a limb here and guessing “no.”

        You know what you sound like? Every overly emotional anti the term hoplophobe was coined to describe.

        Thanks for exactly proving Mack’s point…

        • /\ this is a rather emotional response to achmeds opinion…… No I’m sure nobody has ever done an IQ study on OC rifle dudes.

          Like I tell my family and friends; a person with a gun is just a person with a gun. Whats important is what they’re doing with the gun. I think Achmeds point is that Its rather impractical to carry a rifle everywhere. AND it seems that most of the guys that carry inconspicuous rifles around (like to Taco Bell) are doing it to get attention. When I see these rifle dudes doing their thing i equate it to: gay couples making out inside a chick fillet, a 16 year old girl wearing skimpy clothes, a deuchbag with a loud mouth and loud truck, blasting music on a motor cycle with loud pipes, etc……its not illegal, just silly looking and kind of juvenile in an attention whorish kind of way. If you want to do any of the above, then be my guest. But, theres a reason why we have signs that say “no shoes, no shirt, no service”.

        • “/\ this is a rather emotional response to achmeds opinion”


          So, asking for DATA to back up a claim is “emotional.”

          Words fail me. I will try.

          Achmed made an assertion that is either confirmed by verifiable fact or negated by fact. How in the EVER LIVING HELL is asking for facts to support an as-yet unsubstantiated claim “emotional?”

          Folks, THIS is why we have a constant uphill battle. Too many people that “claim” to be “on our side” can’t even use logic and words correctly. The willingness to throw all rationality out the window just stuns.

        • Yes… Emotional response…. Guys that do that look retarded. Not bad ass. Not patriotic. Not awesome. Just retarded…. Only my opinion…

          And its not the second amendment issue that makes them look retarded. Its their first amendment practices that make them look retarded. See my previous comment for relevant examples.

        • Yes… Emotional response…. Guys that do that look retarded. Not bad ass. Not patriotic. Not awesome. Just retarded…. Only my opinion…

          Oh, the irony.

        • “Oh, the irony.”


          I had planned a logical response to California_Richard, but at this point, I think I’ll just let his posts stand on their own.

          The cultural origin of some recent poll data is coming into clearer focus..

        • Well, since you seem to have a ‘get your panties in a twist’ over the mere sight of a firearm in public…and I quote:

          “When I see these rifle dudes doing their thing i equate it to: gay couples making out inside a chick fillet, a 16 year old girl wearing skimpy clothes, a deuchbag with a loud mouth and loud truck, blasting music on a motor cycle with loud pipes, etc……its not illegal, just silly looking and kind of juvenile in an attention whorish kind of way.”


          It does not seem too much of a stretch that the term “hoplophobe” might apply. But really, the bigger clue is not knowing the difference between “logic and data” and “emotion.” There’s a pattern among hoplophobes, you see…

      • As per Achmed the troll: ” OC guys carrying el-cheapo AKs at port arms into Taco Bell to get attention are retards.”
        I have noticed that hoplophobe trolls always start out with name calling, and finish without logic or statistics to back up their pathetic arguments. Just another “I support the 2nd amendment but…” attack.

        • I wish I had the immunity to social anxiety required to OC a rifle everywhere I went. A rifle is a far superior weapon in most scenarios and a far better deterrent than even a OCed pistol. That being said; if someone is ACTUALLY carrying their rifle in low or high ready, then that is bad; what with their finger being right there next to the bang switch, ready to engage. Port arms, well seems like an awful uncomfortable way to carry around a rifle, but the finger is well away from the bang switch, so I guess that would be all good. If it is any manner of slung, though, there is no basis for calling it low ready, high ready, or even port arms; it is slung and therefore, in no uncertain terms, not being brandished.

    • And this whole thread is why we can’t have nice things… Can we focus on stomping out the attacks on our civil liberties instead of attacking each other? Concealed, open, whatever… if you want to carry your gun, carry it. Just be responsible and safe when bearing arms and you can do whatever you want. We can agree to disagree about things as long as we all keep our eyes on the prize of winning back our liberties.

      Sometimes I’m guilty of this, too. I look over at a doofy guy on the range and roll my eyes because he has some gun I think is silly or he shoots poorly, but I quickly catch myself and remind myself: we’re all on the same side. Let’s work together and not against one another.

  1. If you think Shannon Watts is gorgeous and talking directly to you through her hopelessly crossed eyes, you are in love. Oh wait – wrong analogy

    • Some guys like dumb looking gals-not me. This was about “fear of guns”…is Shannon fearful of your gun Dirk?

    • That’s actually a cause I support, strabismus (cross-eyedness) surgery in children of impoverished households.

      There can be many causes, including trauma or birth defects, but it’s generally correctable. Obviously, I don’t know Ms Watts’ details, but even in adults it’s a pretty routine procedure.

      With a million+ performed annually, it’s the 3rd most common eye surgery, after cataract and Lasik. With decent insurance, an adult can be in and out of the OR in a couple of hours, and be less than a grand out of pocket.

      Anyone with this condition, especially one serving as a media spokesperson, really ought to explore treatment options.

  2. If your immediate response to someone showing the possibility of needing a gun is “I’d probably just accidentally shoot my dog or get my gun taken from me.” My grandma is just overly afraid of the idea of a gun in the home.

  3. It’s not about the gun. Nothing more than priming the pump for greater revenue. Smoking and drinking is a disease (not) = federal dollars or insurance money.

    I place doctors just above used car salesmen and just below used aircraft brokers got their efforts to screw everyone the come in contact with.

    • Medical errors not “Christ Jim, there’s nothing more I can do…”, but “Oops, wrong treatment” kill 300,000 per year. In the US alone. Physician heal thyself…

  4. If you think the gun is a living object with alien-like tentacles that run from a person’s hand to his or her brain causing that person to kill people against the person’s will.

  5. If you think .223 is a “high-powered” cartridge–
    If you think any gun that can fire more than 10 rounds in a minute is an “assault weapon”–
    If you use the term “assault weapon” in the belief that it actually describes a specific type of firearm–

      • But that was an “assault _rifle_”, no? I understand “assault rifle” to be an actual meaningful term in firearms nomenclature: a full-auto capable small arm that fires a rifle-caliber, as opposed to a pistol-caliber, cartridge. “Assault weapon” is a meaningless term when applied to firearms, ussed by gun-o-phobes and their media enablers.

        • Noted, in that that’s the classic definition. But given that the grabbers have bastardized the definition to include any rifle that scares them I take the other tack that if it doesn’t have it in the freaking name…..

          Besides, it makes their eyes go all glassy when you argue that there has only ever been 1 assault rifle. And one of my bucket list items is to actually witness cognitive dissonance burn a whole in a gun grabbers skull.

        • *Maybe* enough to toast bread…..lightly……but as RF says, I couldn’t possibly comment.

  6. There’s really no such thing as a deadly weapon. Only deadly men. Either dangerous through intent, training, or negligence.

    And yes I mean women as well as men.

  7. …if you think banning private gun ownership and/or throwing redistributed wealth at violent criminals will magically turn them into a Nobel Prize winning cancer researchers.

    …if you think the act of having a gun in the house alone, never mind that it’s locked behind two doors and unloaded, increases the likeliness of injury/death by firearm without exception.

    …if you think two thousand rounds of ammo and four guns is an “arsenal.”

    …if you also think someone having X+ rounds of ammunition automatically makes them more dangerous. Try carrying a Home Depot bucket filled with 1,000 rounds of .30-06 some time. You won’t feel dangerous, I promise.

    …if you believe that during a mass shooting, every concealed carrier in the vicinity will simultaneously draw and fire at the perpetrator out of instinct, instead of finding cover and assessing the situation or just plain running in the opposite direction as normal people do when confronted with immediate danger.

    …if you think being a cop automatically blesses you with the shooting abilities of Jerry Miculek, Bob Munden, and Jesus combined.

    That’s all I’ve got for now, but those ones bug me the most.

  8. …you quickly think less of a person after finding out they are gun owners.

    BTW….The Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership have a great website address…sounds like Bond villain “Dr No.”

  9. If you refuse to patronize businesses that don’t post NO GUNS signs. Yes, I know someone who does that. Quit her bank of 30 years because of it.

  10. “Projecting this kind of influence onto guns may actually demonstrate the gun-hater’s fear of his neighbors.”

    Could be that deep down they know they are such annoying people they are continually surprised no one has shot them already.

  11. If you say something about the size of a guys junk while discussing guns,you might be a hoplophobe,amongst a few other things.

  12. If you describe more than two guns as a “chilling arsenal.”
    If you describe more than one box of ammo as a “massive cache.”
    If you describe a 5.56 rifle as “high-powered.”
    If you describe any rifle without a wooden stock as an “assault weapon.”
    If you’re writing a news story that involves guns and you use any of the above terms, and/or the words “deadly,” “dangerous,” or “fully-loaded.”

    • This might work if they were required to be printed on Kevlar and pasted to a steel plate on a mount with casters.

      Should be required to be placed within six feet inside of the entrance. In a “Gun Free Zone” emergency as many people as possible could hide behind the “No Guns Allowed” sign and using its mobility on casters to provide cover attempt to find the rear exit, or a closet in which to hide. Actually, I think moving towards the nearest rest room might be the better option as they will probably be in need of some toilet tissue.

  13. If you tackle a conceal carrier at the entrance to a WalMart in such a manner that it would get you ejected from an NFL game for targeting, you might…no, you are a hoplophobe.

    • Sorry, an unarmed person who intentionally initiates a physical attack on a person they KNOW to be armed is by definition NOT afraid of that person’s weapon, Q.E.D. At least not sufficiently afraid. If it were a true phobia the person would be either frozen in panic or making every possible effort to distance themselves from the weapon.

  14. You know you’re a hoplo if you shake so much when you think about guns that you spill your glass of wheatgrass juice all over your Xanax just before you faint.

    • You know you are NOT a hoplophobe when you understand just how funny, and accurate, that statement is. Well played, sir.

  15. …If you get scared every time your husband talks about buying another gun. Oh no that’s just my wife, afraid of going broke!

  16. If you call a magazine a clip..
    If you call an ar15 an assault rifle.
    If the fact that there is close to 400 million guns in this country scares you.
    If you think that Obama is a good source on guns.
    If you call a bolt action hunting rifle a deadly sniper rifle.

  17. If you think a pop tare with a bite out of it is a dangerous assault-tart…
    you might be a Hoplophobe.

    If you think kids pointing fingers at each other going “bang” is “gun violence”…
    you might be a Hoplophobe.

    If you say “gun deaths” vs. “murders done with guns”…
    you might be a Hoplophobe.

    If you’re more scared of the gun being waved at you, than of the whack-job waving it at you…
    you might be a Hoplophobe.

    Wait. That last one, definitely. Definitely a Hoplophobe.


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