hoplophobe - Ran across the word earlier today and thought it merited entry in the pd. Coined by Jeff Cooper in 1962, according to Wikipedia: "Hoplophobia is a pejorative neologism originally coined to describe an 'irrational aversion to weapons, as opposed to justified apprehension about those who may wield them.' It is sometimes used more generally to describe the 'fear of weapons' or the 'highly salient danger of these weapons' or the 'fear of armed citizens." See Wikipedia Talk for some bickering about the word -- which is not "usually used in a true medical sense." {Duplicate.}  
 

Reference.com: "Despite the clinical term, the word is generally used to describe gun control advocates. It is mildly derogatory, less so than similar slang terms such as those mentioned above. It is most commonly used as a pejorative by gun rights advocates."  
 
From Jeff Cooper himself: "The Root of the Evil" I coined the term hoplophobia over twenty years ago, not out of pretension but in the sincere belief that we should recognize a very peculiar sociological attitude for what it is -- a more or less hysterical neurosis rather than a legitimate political position. It follows convention in the use of Greek roots in describing specific mental afflictions. 'Hoplon' is the Greek word for 'instrument,' but refers synonymously to 'weapon' since the earliest and principal instruments were weapons. Phobos is Greek for 'terror' and medically denotes unreasoning panic rather than normal fear. Thus hoplophobia is a mental disturbance characterized by irrational aversion to weapons, as opposed to justified apprehension about those who may wield them. The word has not become common, though twenty years is perhaps too short a time in which to test it, but I am nevertheless convinced that it has merit. We read of 'gun grabbers' and 'anti-gun nuts' but these slang terms do not face up to the reasons why such people behave the way they do. They do not adequately suggest that reason, logic, and truth can have no effect upon one who is irrational on the point under discussion. You cannot say calmly 'Come, let us reason together' to a hoplophobe because that is what he is -- a hoplophobe. He is not just one who holds an opposing view, he is an obsessive neurotic. You can speak, write, and illustrate the merits of the case until you drop dead, and no matter how good you are his mind will not be changed. A victim of hydrophobia will die, horribly, rather than accept the water his body desperately needs. A victim of hoplophobia will die, probably, before he will accept the fallacy of his emotional fixation for what it is.
It should hardly come as a surprise that most of the examples are likely to come from gun rights advocates -- or from psychological counselors. Something is definitely going to be done about gun control -- either by the President issuing Executive Orders or by Congress passing a bill the President then signs into law. What is done can be expected to reach the Supreme Court for a test of its constitutionality. Holophobes better hope the case is decided by an instance of SCOTUS other than the one now sitting.  
 
Second Amendment issues aside, does obama's proposal for background checks appreciably reduce criminals' and lunatics' ability to lay their hands on guns? Is the cost and inconvenience to law-abiding, level-headed taxpayers justified? Why is this a federal issue rather than a state issue? Is what's right for Rhode Island the same as what's right for Alaska?

e.g.,

  • TimSwires: "What a bunch of hoplophobes (look it up), these school teachers and administrators." |

  • "Like the blinking ungulates they are, the Liberal-progressive leaf-eating herd [hoplophobes?] startles and stampedes at the loud noise (guns!) rather than sensibly concluding that lunatics should have less liberty than the level-headed." |

  • Jeff Cooper. To Ride, Shoot Straight, and Speak the Truth, Pages 16-19. Boulder, Colorado: Paladin Press, 1990.: "Have you noted that whenever an assassination is committed with a rifle, our journalistic hoplophobes clamor for further prohibitions on pistols? A pistol is a defensive weapon; a rifle is an offensive weapon. Yet the hoplophobes always attack pistols first because they feel that pistols are somehow nastier than rifles. (Though rifles are pretty nasty, too. They will get to those later.) This is the age of the "gut reaction" -that crutch of intellectual cripples -- and for an interesting number of commentators it is not even embarrassing to admit that actually thinking about anything important is just too much trouble. Some of our most ubiquitous and highly paid social-problem columnists are egregious examples of this. . . .  
     
    "The essence of the affliction is the belief that instruments cause acts. It may be that certain degenerate human beings are so far gone that they will use something just because it is there -- a match, for instance. (I saw a bumper sticker in the Rockies that admonished "Prevent Forest Fires. Register Matches!") One who will burn people because he has a match is the same as one who will shoot people because he has a gun, but the hoplophobe zeroes in on guns because he is -- let's face it -- irrational. He will answer this by saying that we need matches (and cars, and motorcycles, and power saws, et cetera) but we do not need guns. He will not accept the idea that you may indeed need your guns, because he hates guns. He is afflicted by the grotesque notion that tools have a will of their own. He may admit that safe driving is a matter of individual responsibility, but he rejects the parallel in the matter of weapons. This may not be insanity, but it is clearly related to it.  
     
    "One cannot rationally hate or fear an inanimate object. Neither can he rationally hate or fear an object because of its designed purpose. Whether one approves of capital punishment or not, one cannot rationally fear a hemp rope. One who did, possibly because he once narrowly escaped hanging, would generally be referred to a shrink. When the most prominent hoplophobe in the United States Senate says that he abhors firearms because their purpose is to put bullets through things, he reinforces the impressions that many have formed about his capacity to reason.  
     
    "My point -- and I hope it is clear -- is that hoplophobia is a mental disturbance rather than a point of view. Differences of opinion -- on economic policy, or forced integration, or the morality of abortion, or the neutron bomb -- these we may hope to resolve by discussion. But we cannot so resolve a phobia. The mentally ill we cannot reach. But we can identify a form of mental illness for what it is, and so separate its victims from the policy considerations of reasonable people.  
     
    "The root of the evil is the unprincipled attempt to gain votes by appealing to the emotions of the emotionally disturbed. Few reasonable politicians dare to take on the Second Amendment, even in the Eastern Megalopolis. (One prominent left-liberal told a New Yorker interviewer that he "would rather be a deer, in season, than to take on 'the gun lobby'!") But if, as is the case with the aforementioned senator, the politician is already a hopeless hoplophobe, his advisers must turn him loose to appeal to his constituency of crazies, since their jobs depend on it. "Go to it, Senator! The nuts are all with you."  
     
    "This is something we who prize our traditional liberties must face. Convincing the uninterested is the very essence of politics, in a two-party system. It is up to us to do that by demonstrating that hoplophobia is a disease, and to call upon all reasonable people to reject it as a basis for the formulation of policy." |

  • Dispelling the myths of Hoplophobia (irrational fear of firearms): "Firstly, hoplophobes (gun-o-phobes) tend to confuse "semi-auto" with "automatic." An automatic weapon continuously chambers and fires for as long as the trigger is held, or until the magazine is empty. Think tommy gun. Fully automatic weapons are heavily restricted and are not available to the general public." |

  • Wiktionary: hoplophobia -- 1976, United States Congressís House Committee on the Judiciaryís Subcommittee on Crime: "Gun control laws are proposed to control three basic areas: Crime, accidental shootings and to calm those suffering from hoplophobia ó these people generally align themselves with the first two so I wonít even consider that category." |

  • Wiktionary: hoplophobe -- 1977: John Wood Campbell: "To return to guns, one of the most avid hoplophobe senators issued a list of nations which did not lose too many of its citizens through villainous saltpeter. England featured, and so did other lands like Japan, where murder is rare except with cold steel." |

  • Wiktionary: hoplophobia -- 1998, Bob Knauer: "One of the telltale characteristics of hoplophobia is terminal stupidity. That's because hoplophobia is a mental illness." |

  • Wiktionary: hoplophobia -- 1999, Barry B Wood: "You'll be happy to learn that 'hoplophobia' (irrational fear of weapons) has been recognized as an illness by the AMA, is treatable, and is now covered by most HMOs. Get thee to a psychiatrist!" [not true] |

  • Wiktionary: hoplophobia -- 2000, Frank Zember: Not exactly, subscribing to the hoplophobia of the left wing makes you a complete idiot." |

  • Farlex Medical Dictionary: hoplophobia: "VICTIMS experience disorientation, a rapid pulse, sweating and faintness at the sight or even the mere thought of guns. "It's all scary stuff; Whether it's clowns, beards or sex, our fears ..." by The Mirror (London, England)" |

  • Farlex Medical Dictionary: hoplophobia: As well as Moore's fear of guns -- or hoplophobia -- famous victims include claustrophobic director Woody Allen, who is scared of closed spaces, and ichtophobic movie star Brad Pitt, who is terrified of sharks. "Why guns have Bond on the run" by Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland) |

  • "Hoplophobia: A modern scourge": "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. . . . Hoplophobes should seek treatment. Help shoot for a cure." |

  • "Can 'Hoplophobia' Be Cured?": "The definitive paper on this terrifying mental disorder was written by Dr. Sarah Thompson, Ph.D., and is posted with background at the blue hoplophobia button at GunLaws.com. The most chilling aspect of the paper is her description of how hoplophobes fail to cope with their disorder. They displace their fears through the psychological mechanism of projection -- they project their fears onto everyone else. This explains a lot.  
     
    "Hoplophobes are so afraid of guns, and especially what they might do if they ever got a hold of one, they project this onto everyone around them. They fear their own fear. They make the irrational assumption (it is, after all, a phobia, which is irrational), that if you have a gun, you would shoot them without cause ó because this is what they fear they might do if they ever held this awesome power. . . .  
     
    "We see hoplophobic responses every time a psychotic madman goes berserk. The gun-o-phobes come out of the woodwork, bolstered by a complicit and equally fearful press, with politicians in tow (some of whom are only in it for the power grab), seeking new laws to disarm everyone who didnít do anything wrong. There it is ó irrational behavior on a platter. Itís not about guns. Itís about sickness." |

  • Reference.com: "In spite of the political origins and connotation of the term, it has clinical usage, and a patient may be diagnosed with this phobia. For instance, a patient that has no opinion on law or public policy per se but becomes terrified upon noticing a policeman's sidearm, or a photograph of a rifle or knife, may be a hoplophobe. Such a phobia may be present in someone who suffers from PTSD as a result of a traumatic experience involving a firearm. Hoplophobia is described as an uncommon phobia in Contemporary Diagnosis And Management of Anxiety Disorders." |

  • Dr. Bill Rogers: "Jeff Cooper coined the term 'Hoplophobe' to describe a person who lives in fear of an inanimate object. The Hoplophobe does not recognize that there is a living, breathing human being in possession of the inanimate object. (See Bad Gun -- Liberals attack the gun issue.) Therefore the Hoplophobe chooses to have a relationship with an inanimate object rather than with the sentient being in control of the object. Such a person is, by definition, irrational. Such a person is, by association, insane.  
     
    "In our merciful culture, the insane are granted special dispensations. They are not considered responsible for their own well-being. Public money is often used to house, clothe and feed them. They are not allowed to serve on a jury. They are not allowed to vote. (And when they do manage to sneak into the voting booth, the rational among us are not surprised that they often 'dimple' rather than 'punch' a ballot, despite written instructions to the contrary.) They are not allowed to serve in the military, and they certainly should not be allowed to make public policy that will put their neighbors at risk of being injured or killed." [Dr. Rogers is the type of guy who gives gun rights advocates a bad name, isn't he? He's one psychiatrist I'll avoid.] |

  • Hoplophobia (counseling): "Hoplophobia has sometimes been unfairly used to describe gun control advocates. This of course, is an extreme statement and politically-based. Hoplophobia is an actual phobia that plagues many people in society who have no ties to political issues and simply fear weapons and the danger they can cause. This fear not only involves being afraid of firearms, but weapons in general. This would include knives, guns and anything that has the potential to cause bodily harm. There are many triggers to this phobia, mainly Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Whatever the reason for this phobia, there is help." |

  • Paul McFedries WordSpy: "A Utah gun-rights group has an eye out for hoplophobes. " |

  • Earliest Citation: ""These gun-control people suffer from hoplophobia," said John Snyder, spokesman for the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. The word is of Greek origin and means an unusual fear of weapons.
    ó Carleton R. Bryant, "Bush sees no need for new gun laws," The Washington Times, January 3, 1991" |

  • page nine: "Hoplophobia Remains Repressed": "While groups are lobbying to get marginal and questionable disorders into the official directory of mental disorders, the firearms and medical communities are falling down on the job of campaigning to get hoplophobia a well-known and politically damaging scourge the recognition and treatment its sufferers so desperately need. . . .  
     
    "It is often posited from within a small segment of the medical community that the core staff working on DSM-5, and indeed the medical professional as a whole is largely hoplophobic, and that this freezes out any serious consideration of the disorder. It would be funny if it weren't so serious, a sort of doctor-heal-thyself conundrum. . . .  
     
    "Idea: Ask YOUR doctor, dentist, gynocologist, whatever for an opinion about hoplophobia next time you have an appointment. You're paying the salary. That's your professional adviser. Get service. Ask. Tell me what you hear. I'll spread the word. And your doc will think.  
     
    Medical doctor, name withheld on request: 'The psych establishment is, well, hoplophobic, and I suspect any effort to get hoplophobia recognized as a serious diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual would be a wasted one.'  
     
    "However, hoplophobia may be more widespread than all of the above mentioned with the exception of ideophobia, and unlike most of these other phobias, hoplophobia pervades every level of our society and poses a serious threat to our Constitutional Second Amendment and First Amendment rights." |

  • "Trusted, Effective Treatment for Hoplophobia": "We have never met a case of hoplophobia that couldnít be overcome. I" |

  • Hoplophobia Release: "Hoplophobia is an intense fear of something that poses little or no actual danger. While adults with hoplophobia realize that these fears are irrational, they often find that facing, or even thinking about facing, the feared situation brings on a panic attack or severe anxiety." |

  • "My first hoplophobe encounter": "Nothing for me to do but sit on the porch waiting for the sheriff to show up. Fifteen minutes or so have gone by since she called 911 and a sheriff's car drives by the house and I waved -- addresses out here aren't marked very well, and he continued to drive by. I figured he was on his way to talk to the nosy hoplophobe neighbor, so I went back into the house and asked my twelve-year-old son if he wanted a lesson in handgun laws and how ignorant people react to guns. He joins me on the porch and we wait." |

  • "Public health issue: Guns or Hoplophobia?": "Are guns a 'public health' issue, or is the problem 'hoplophobia'? . . .  
     
    "As this column noted, today might see the number of Washington CPLs pass 396,000. That means perhaps one in a dozen adults here is legally carrying a firearm, a fact that seems to alarm gun prohibitionists -- 'hoplophobes' as Col. Cooper called them -- who seem more concerned about the law-abiding armed citizens than the juvenile criminals who are packing them." |

  • Sipsey Street Irregulars: "Hoplophobia epidemic in Pennsylvania. Cameraman refuses to film guns." |

  • Phobia List, Phobias: "Normally, for an individual to be called a hoplophobic, she or he should possess some signs and symptoms associated with the extraordinary fear of one thing like a firearm or the like that poses little or no actual danger at all." |

  • Wise Geek: "What Is Hoplophobia?": "Some suffers of hoplophobia may have had it triggered by a traumatic childhood event such as a home invasion or loss of a parent to a gun wound. Other people with hoplophobia may have their symptoms pop up out of nowhere. When a person with a phobia of guns sees a weapon or thinks about weapons, physical symptoms such as sweating, chest pains, trouble breathing and shaking can occur. Some hoplophobics even have anxiety attacks or full-blown panic attacks if they encounter a weapon or even see a picture of a weapon." |

  • "Are you a hoplophobe?": "I have to admit this is one of the most idiotic terms I have ever heard, yet it is repeatedly used to castigate those who support gun control. I have devised this simple test to determine if you are a hoplophobe or not. . . ." |

  • "Hoplophobia Kills": "While it was seven bullets from the only people weíre supposed to trust with guns that snuffed out Erik Scottís life, what really killed him was an irrational fear of firearms -- hoplophobia. . . .  
     
    "Adam Lewinsky on June 4, 2012 at 6:07 PM said: Let me get this straight: A guy goes to a Costco while intoxicated on illegally hard narcotics, illegally carrying two handguns, is asked to leave by the store (trespassing) and didnít, and then attempts to leave the store when it is evacuated. Hoplophobia didnít kill Erik Scott; his addiction to Xanax and Hydrocodine did. " |

  • RomanA, commenting on "Topic: Definition of Hoplophobe": "Also most hoplohobes dont realise that guns as tools can be used for good; they can be used to stop murder, rape, robberies, and crime in general. They can be used to upring justice in certain wars where [a] better solution does not exist. Guns and other forms of weaponery [hyave have] useful functions in terms of [thier their orignal use;:] effectibly solve situations where use of force is [nessary necessary]." [Don't really want to be a grammar nazi, but some people are so careless they annoy me.] |

  • "Hoplophobia May Be Aiding Gun Crime": "Disarming the general public is a vent for fear, and a grossly distorted defiance of freedom. Hoplophobia leads many to political activism, hoping to eliminate guns for everyone. Its irrationality becomes obvious when a total ban on guns in this country allows the rest of the world to produce as many guns as possible. Every criminal would have guns, as well as every other fully armed force, and terrorist entity in the world." |

  • LarryA, commenting The Volokh Conspiracy Ľ "Colorado State University board rescinds ban on licensed firearms carry": "Your fear seems to be without merit. Facts to a hoplophobe are like kryptonite to superman..." |

  • Phillip's comment to "Should Doctors have Guns?" at BrainBlogger: "Moreover, I would trust MY physician with a firearm. I also trust his discretion, and his medical judgement. I believe that if he wanted to kill someone, he could do so with the tools of his profession in a much more efficient manner than with a gun, and do it in a way that it would be hard to put him up on charges of murder. Therefore, a gun in his hands would not be in the least scary. I also know that heís not a hoplophobe (abnormal fear of firearms), since he was able to detect that I was carrying at one appointment, and chose not to even mention it out loud." |

  • "Facing our fears: Hoplophobia (firearms)": "I think most fears, be it water, dentists or public speaking, are actually fear of the unknown ó and what is unknown becomes beastly when fed by an active imagination. A little education cured a little of my ignorance, but not all of my fear. Conquered? No. But tamed." |

  • Hoplophobia: "I mostly bought the rifle because it looks big and intimidating. It is the most recognizable firearm silhouette in the world, and it demands respect. Some moron trying to break into my apartment might not respect me, with my medium build and thick glasses, but he has to think twice when I am holding something that looks like a machine gun (but is not). It may not be as powerful or deadly as its reputation, but with 30 round magazines it can be very forgiving to a novice shooter in a bad situation.  
     
    "If it is the official policy that I am not allowed to have this rifle in my place of residence, my hearth and home, my sanctuary . . . then it is time to stand up against hoplophobia. I will not be defenseless in my own home because some other people have irrational fears as a result of ignorance or their own moral failings.  
     
    "I am not the problem. The inanimate object resting quietly against the wall is not the problem. We are not going anywhere." |

  • JimP, commenting on "MrColionNoir x FateOfDestinee on Hoplophobia": "Iíve never had to try to convert a hoplophobe, but have taken more than one person to the range for the first time shooting. . . .  
     
    "Iím fiscally conservative, want a limited government, and am socially liberal.  
     
    "I agree the problem really isnít the hoplophobes. Most of them canít be converted. If we can, great, but I donít hold out great hope. What concerns me also are the sheep that go through life and refuse to object. They donít realize that the TSA searches are unconstitutional; the Terry stop rules exist for a reason; that cops arenít gods.  
     
    "They want to depend on 911 and donít realize that SCOTUS has ruled, numerous times, that the police have no duty to protect you as an individual." |

  • "Hoplophobia is an irrational fear of guns. Trayvon Martin supporters have it.": "Don't be led to fear inanimate objects by the media and politicians or you too will be labeled a Hoplophobe." |

  • Tuscany Circle: Hoplophobia

    Hoplophobia is the irrational fear of weapons. The most common cases of hoplophobia concentrate their fears specifically upon firearms.

    Hoplophobia is a mental illness that tends to exhibit as chaotic thought patterns and exaggerated effect. Symptoms may begin with aversion and avoidance, but usually worsen to include delusions. Common delusions include the idea that weapons possess a will of their own and can alter a user's morality and behavior toward criminality. In addition to a belief that the lawful are or will become evil, sufferers often hold the contradictory and similarly delusional belief that the lawless will abide by gun control laws. Left untreated, antisocial behavior can manifest, up to and including irrational, even violent, rage when the delusions are challenged factually. In misguided efforts to resolve the underlying fear, other individuals are brought into the delusional thought patterns. Sufferers often employ force to accomplish this.

    The cost to society from undiagnosed and untreated hoplophobia is significant. Morally upstanding individuals are often forcibly disarmed — the irony of the use of force to prevent the use of force is lost in the delusions — and rendered unable to defend themselves, their families, and their communities. When large swathes of the population with impaired judgment indulge hoplophobic delusions, large-scale social problems like crime, tyranny, and invasion are permitted.

    Each of the following indicates hoplophobia. Although even a single affirmative is symptomatic, additional affirmatives show more severe underlying fear, greater symptomatology, and more robust psychological damage.

    1. Does the presence of a weapon (firearm, knife, sword, etc.) make you feel uneasy?
    2. Does it bother you that other citizens may be carrying concealed weapons, even if it is legal?
    3. Do you believe only police and the military should have guns?
    4. If you saw a person openly carrying a firearm, would you immediately call the police even if the armed citizen was simply minding his own business?
    5. Do you think gun owners should be required to have licenses or have their guns registered with the police?
    6. Would you support a ban on legally-carried handguns on public property, including municipal, state and national parks, national forests and wilderness areas?
    7. If your new neighbor mentioned that he belongs to the NRA or GOA, or that he is a gun owner, or that he carries concealed weapons, would you refrain from inviting him to a neighborhood barbecue?
    8. Do you forbid firearms or all weapons in your home?
    9. Would you refuse an invitation to go target shooting with a friend or on a date?
    10. Would you oppose the inclusion of gun safety as part of school curriculum?

    The symptoms stem from underlying fears that are often unidentified or improperly identified by the sufferer. The original fears may be based upon trauma, moral confusion (e.g., relativism), extreme solipsism, any of the Dark Triad traits1, 2, 3, or combinations of these factors. Being improperly identified, the fears cannot be resolved rationally, but, by forces of cognitive dissonance, result in the perversion of perceptions of reality.

    Treatment of hoplophobia often involves cognitive therapy to identify the underlying fear(s) and process them lucidly. Follow-up is gently confronting each delusion with demonstrable facts. The latter is impossible until the former is processed successfully. Finally, arms education is recommended, including firearms training, so that firsthand experience can replace formerly fear-based delusions from afar.

    Sufferers of hoplophobia are urged to seek counseling before they permit, encourage, or participate in harming others (or themselves) by indulging the delusional "resolution" of their fears.

    |

  • "Guns in Parks: The Hoplophobes' Travel Guide to the United States" New Ledger.com ^ | 29 May, 2009 | David Kopel

    Posted on 05/30/2009 6:12:50 AM PDT by marktwain

    Last week, President Obama signed a bill which, besides changing credit card laws, says that in National Parks and National Wildlife Refuges, the laws about gun carrying will be the same as in the host state. So in Colorado, for example, you will be allowed to carry a concealed handgun in Rocky Mountain National Park, if you have a state-issued concealed carry permit. In Vermont’s Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park, you can carry at will, since no permit is required for carry in the rest of Vermont. In New Jersey’s Gateway National Recreation Area, you will need a permit, and since almost no-one in New Jersey except retired police is ever granted a permit, almost no-one will be able to carry there.

    The law goes into effect nine months hence, as do the changes in credit card laws.

    I was one of seven authors whom the New York Times invited to contribute a short essay on the new law, for the Timess’ on-line opinion feature, Room for Debate. All seven essays, from diverse pro/con viewpoints, were pretty good, I thought. The comments from readers, however, were voluminous but often very weak. Many of them consisted of left-over talking points from the gun control debate circa 1971, with assertions that no serious scholar of the gun issue believes. For example, many commenters claimed that it is impossible to use a gun in self-defense, because the attacker (whether a human or an animal) will have the element of surprise, that ordinary people are not competent to use guns for protection, and so on. Yet even the strongest scholarly advocates of gun control acknowledge that there are about a hundred thousand defensive gun uses annually, according to the National Crime Victimization Survey, which is conducted by the Census Bureau and the United State Department of Justice. (Other scholars argue for higher figures, but the key point is that no informed scholar claims that successful defensive use is rare or non-existent.)

    Surprisingly, some of the commenters showed signs of mental illness. One commenter wrote that if he saw someone in a National Park with a gun, he would report the person for making criminal threats. (“Well, watch out, gunnut gunwack gunsels. If I see your gun while I am visiting the parks, I will file a complaint accusing you of threatening me.”)

    Now perhaps that commenter himself is just an ordinary criminal, and for many years has been breaking the law by making false accusations against innocent people. On the other hand, the commenter might not have been intending to make a knowingly false report, but instead to have been accurately predicted what he, with complete sincerity, would do. A person’s belief, without a sufficient basis, that other people are committing crimes against him, is a symptom of Paranoid Personality Disorder.

    The more common form of apparent mental illness among some commenters was Hoplophobia, which is described in the book Contemporary Diagnosis and Management of Anxiety Disorders. A word of explanation: having a strong dislike or hatred of something is not, in itself, an indication of mental illness. For example, a person hates frogs, considers them disgusting, tries to avoid looking at frogs or touching them, and writes letters to the editor urging that all frogs be exterminated. This is not per se a sign of mental illness. Poor judgment, perhaps, but not a mental disorder.

    So the vast majority of people who hate frogs, snakes, spiders, dogs, cats, guns, animals, George Bush, or anything else are not mentally ill.

    Something becomes a Specific Phobia, clinically speaking, when it significantly interferes with ordinary life activities. For example, “I turned down a job offer as a ticket-taker at the Natural History Museum, because I am afraid if I might see a child carrying a plush frog toy that was purchased in the museum gift shop.” Or, “I refuse to visit my son who is a chef in a French restaurant, because I know that he has handled frog legs, and I [am] terrified that he might shake my hand.”

    Among the New York Times commenters, there were plenty of gun haters, the large majority of whom exhibited no sign of mental illness. Yet several of them wrote that they often visit national parks, enjoyed the visits, but now, because of the new federal law, they would not set foot in a National Park.

    Now, as my Times essay had explained, and other commenters had reiterated, the new federal law simply means that the rule inside federal parks will be the same as in the host state. So the odds of running into a person legally carrying a firearm at, say, the Johnstown Flood National Memorial in Pennsylvania would be pretty close to the odds running into a legally armed person while walking down the streets of Johnstown, Pennsylvania.

    In other words, someone who avoids National Parks because of the new law is saying that he is afraid of being in place where most of the adult population has the legal right to carry a firearm, after licensing, a background check, and safety training. Meaning, of course, 40 of our 50 states.

    Having so much hatred, or fear, of guns that you can’t handle the ordinary, daily conditions of 4/5 of the American states would imply a rather significant interference with ordinary activities. That is, a phobia. The specific name for this phobia is “Hoplophobia.” Although Hoplophobia would be a good name for fear of hopping animals such as frogs and kangaroos, the word’s root is “hoplon” — from an ancient Greek shield that could be used offensively or defensively.

    A caveat on the diagnosis: The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders includes, as part of the diagnosis for a phobia, that “The person recognizes that the fear is excessive or unreasonable. Note: In children, this feature may be absent.” That condition is not met by the New York Times commenters, who appear to see themselves as eminently reasonable, and to consider anyone who would carry a firearm for protection as self-evidently crazy and dangerous. I don’t think that the diagnosis of a phobia should require insight on the part of the phobic. If a person won’t go to public places because he is afraid of balloons, then he would have a phobia, even if he considered himself eminently rational, and could recite statistics about all the people who have been seriously injured by balloons. (As was one of my relatives, when a Mylar balloon in a department store popped, and left her blind in one eye.)

    Generally speaking, a mentally ill person has a better chance of being cured if he wants to be cured, and so the first step towards mental health is recognizing that one is mentally ill. So in the interest of perhaps encouraging some Hoplophobes to admit that they have a problem, here is a travel guide to the United States, based on the presumption that a person refuses to go any place where most adults can lawfully carry firearms for protection [needs help].

    For convenience’s sake, let’s presume that the victim of Hoplophobia lives in Manhattan. Of course most people in Manhattan, including most Manhattanites who hate guns, are not Hoplophobes. But the island is a place to which Hoplophobes often migrate, perhaps as a form of self-treatment, trying to place themselves in a place where their phobia is less likely be triggered.

    So starting in Manhattan, you can enjoy the entire Empire State, a large and interesting place. If you feel a desire to leave New York, be extremely careful about heading east. Going into Connecticut will immediately put you in a place where the government routinely issues carry permits to law-abiding, trained adults. In other words, Connecticut is just as dangerous as a National Park.

    Vermont is even worse, with no permits even required for carrying concealed handguns. And everyone knows how dangerous Vermont is. New Hampshire and Maine are similar to Connecticut, and must be avoided.

    Massachusetts is safe, as long as you cross directly into the state, without going through Connecticut. Rhode Island is good too, providing that you approach it via Massachusetts, or take a ferry from eastern Long Island. A trip through Connecticut would obviously be too risky.

    New Jersey is the Hoplophobe’s Garden State. Its licensing practices are much more severe than New York City’s. In New Jersey, not even diamond merchants or celebrities can get carry permits.

    From New Jersey, you must go south to Delaware. Do not even think of crossing into Pennsylvania. It is a Shall Issue state for carry licenses, similar to Maine or New Hampshire.

    Maryland is also safe, and from there you can go to the District of Columbia, whose very strict gun laws have made it notoriously safe.

    If you want to fly to D.C., take a plane to the Baltimore airport, and then rent a car or take a bus. Do not fly to either of the D.C. airports. They are both located in Virginia, and the danger that you could be shot by a gun-crazy Virginian while traveling through Virginia into D.C. is nearly as high as the odds that you will get shot by a gun nut while in a National Park. Stay away from Arlington National Cemetery; it is in Virginia, and the people buried there were gun users.

    Needless to say, the entire Southeast is off limits. So is almost everything from Pennsylvania west. It is OK to fly to Illinois, and enjoy that state, since it does not even have procedures for issuing carry permits. The South Side of Chicago is an especially safe place to go, thanks to the handgun ban in the city.

    Like Illinois, Wisconsin has no provision for handgun carry licenses, and so was safe until 2005, when the state Supreme Court ruled that people had a constitutional right to keep and carry guns in their place of business. After that, you could still go to Wisconsin, as long as you never entered a place of business. But now, the state Attorney General has advised that people have a right to open carry without a permit, and thus the Badger State is far too dangerous to contemplate a visit.

    So is all the rest of the Midwest. So are all the Rocky Mountain states. So is the entire Southwest.

    The Pacific Coast is mixed. Washington and Oregon are Shall Issue states. Alaska allows carry without a permit, and besides that, the mere thought of Sarah Palin can trigger anxiety attacks in Hoplophobes.

    California is safe, except for some of the rural counties, where sheriffs issue permits to law-abiding citizens. Permits are close to non-existent in Los Angeles, making South Central L.A. an especially safe area for the Hoplophobe.

    Permits are also hard to get in Hawaii. So you can visit Haleakala National Park without worrying that someone on the trail up the volcano may have a gun.

    In addition, New York’s airports are gateways to the world, and you can travel to many global locations which are even stricter than New York City in their restrictions on gun ownership. You may find Cuba, Darfur, and North Korea to be especially pleasant places.

    David B. Kopel is Research Director of the Independence Institute, in Golden, Colorado.

submitted by HD Fowler - (www)

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