Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Hoplophobia: How To Talk to Anti-Gunners

“You advocate carrying a gun? What are you afraid of?” This is a question I’ve heard several times. One of my gun-heros is Col. Jeff Cooper. I had the opportunity of being trained by him annually at an instructor school for 6 years. I don’t agree with everything he advocates, but probably 98.7%. He used to say this often when asked if anyone ever asked about his being a proponent of carrying a gun.
“If you carry a gun, people call you paranoid. Nonsense! If you have a gun, what do you have to be paranoid about?”
I subscribe to this thinking whenever I have been asked about being afraid because I advocate carrying a gun. Very rarely will I come out and say “I carry!” I believe in operations security and so I like to always leave someone not quite sure if I carry a gun or not.
I do advocate the emphasis of faith and works. There is a scripture that says:
“…if ye are prepared ye shall not fear.” I like this scripture because I believe the opposite of fear is faith. I would propose a little different wording of this fragment of a verse. I propose the meaning of this verse is more “If ye have faith, ye will be prepared.” Since faith without works is dead, I would conclude that with faith you must have action.
The thinking (or lack thereof) of many people is that if someone carry’s a gun to protect themselves then they must be scared of something. I think we should explore the difference between preparedness and fear. Maybe someone who jumps right to fear if another person is prepared is because they are so afraid of life that they must project that fear to others. If you wear a seatbelt then clearly you are afraid of a vehicle and wheat can happen in one. If you own pepper spray then you must be afraid of an attacker. If you own a flashlight you must be afraid of the dark! I’m not sure how tools to keep you safe and secure make you afraid. That kind of thinking is wishful. If a knife wielding maniac in a restaurant starts stabbing people you would cower in the corner and hope his arm got tired before he got to you.
The most useful thing I carry is my flashlight. I carry it not because I'm afraid of the dark; instead, I simply realize that it gets dark every day.
It used to be that we actually cared for others. There was also a time when we took care of ourselves and didn’t expect anyone, or any other group, to take care of us. I’m not sure what happened but I would hope that if my family was in danger and I was not there, that someone would be there for them. I don’t depend on that though, that’s why I’ve taught them to care for themselves and each other.
I do not advocate anyone who does legally carry a gun, has been trained and practices, that they should, or do, think of themselves as a hero. In this sue-happy society you could go to jail trying to help out someone. If you feel you need to do so, do it with the utmost care and thought. I’d like to think that under the right circumstances I could help someone survive an attack. I can tell you, I don’t usually look for it. I do my best to avoid anything like that.
This is an original definition of hoplophobia from the term's creator, Jeff Cooper, through his daughter, Lindy Cooper Wisdom. She writes:
In Fireworks (copyright 1980), Chapter 3 is titled, "Open Letter: To a Legislative Hoplophobe." In it, Dad defines hoplophobia and puts a date to this definition of 1966.

It reads as follows:

HOPLOPHOBIA. (1966) From the Greek___(weapon) plus __ (terror).

An unreasoning, obsessive neurotic fear of weapons as such, usually accompanied by an irrational feeling that weapons possess a will or consciousness for evil, apart from the will of their user. Not equivalent to normal apprehension in the presence of an armed enemy. Hoplon also means instrument, tool or tackle, but it is the root of hoplite (man-at-arms, gendarme) and thus principally signifies "weapon" in English derivations.
Col. Jeff Cooper, widely acclaimed as "The Father of the Modern Technique of Shooting," introduced the two-handed grip at eye level, when it was standard for people to shoot one-handed, and often from the hip. Far less known, Cooper was a historian with a Masters Degree in History from the University of Calif. at Riverside and he held a B.A. from Stanford in Political Science.
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, a common, classic and irrational response.
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 writing your name in such a list would help stop crime is never even addressed.
Firearms instructor and Ph.D. psychologist Dr. Bruce Eimer
expands on the hoplophobia epidemic the nation is suffering under:
“As a psychologist, I have been treating people with the emotional disorder of phobias for over 30 years. Phobias are emotional disorders characterized by an irrational fear of specific situations, activities or objects. They all have an underlying psychodynamic mechanism.
Weapons phobias originate typically in childhood as a result of traumatic experiences that lead the afflicted individual to feel markedly vulnerable around knives, guns, sticks, etc. They do not necessarily stem from the phobic person's being a victim of an assault although in many instances that is the case. Often, hoplohobics were abused emotionally and/or physically as children.
As a result of their fears of annihilation, they feel vulnerable and angry. They both fear others and themselves such that if they were to lose control, they would be a menace too. The adult rationalization defense mechanism makes it safer to displace these fears on to an inanimate object such as a gun. Hence, the psychological unconscious really believes that guns have agency and kill. The idea of factoring bad people into the equation: gun + bad person = destruction does not occur to the psychological unconscious. It is too threatening to the psychological unconscious. It's less threatening CONSCIOUSLY to blame problems on inaminate objects.”
Dr. Sarah Thompson says this about Hoplophobia.
“About a year ago I received an e-mail from a member of a local Jewish organization. The author, who chose to remain anonymous, insisted that people have no right to carry firearms because he didn't want to be murdered if one of his neighbors had a "bad day". (I don't know that this person is a "he", but I'm assuming so for the sake of simplicity.) I responded by asking him why he thought his neighbors wanted to murder him, and, of course, got no response. The truth is that he's statistically more likely to be murdered by a neighbor who doesn't legally carry a firearm and more likely to be shot accidentally by a law enforcement officer.
How does my correspondent "know" that his neighbors would murder him if they had guns? He doesn't. What he was really saying was that if he had a gun, he might murder his neighbors if he had a bad day, or if they took his parking space, or played their stereos too loud. This is an example of what mental health professionals call projection – unconsciously projecting one's own unacceptable feelings onto other people, so that one doesn't have to own them. In some cases, the intolerable feelings are projected not onto a person, but onto an inanimate object, such as a gun, so that the projector believes the gun itself will murder him.
Projection is a defense mechanism. Defense mechanisms are unconscious psychological mechanisms that protect us from feelings that we cannot consciously accept. They operate without our awareness, so that we don't have to deal consciously with "forbidden" feelings and impulses. Thus, if you asked my e-mail correspondent if he really wanted to murder his neighbors, he would vehemently deny it, and insist that other people want to kill him.
Projection is a particularly insidious defense mechanism, because it not only prevents a person from dealing with his own feelings, it also creates a world where he perceives everyone else as directing his own hostile feelings back at him.”
She continues: “Also, it's important to remember that not all anti-gun beliefs are the result of defense mechanisms. Some people suffer from gun phobia, an excessive and completely irrational fear of firearms, usually caused by the anti-gun conditioning they've been subjected to by the media, politicians, so-called "educators," and others. In some cases, gun phobia is caused by an authentic bad experience associated with a firearm. But with all due respect to Col. Jeff Cooper, who coined the term "hoplophobia" to describe anti-gun people, most anti-gun people do not have true phobias. Interestingly, a person with a true phobia of guns realizes his fear is excessive or unreasonable, something most anti-gun folks will never admit.”
So whichever camps you are in, you can understand why those who oppose guns so much are going to try to make you feel foolish for defending yourself. It has been said that “a conservative is a liberal who’s been mugged.” I’m not sure that is true but I can understand it. If you find yourself confronted by a hoplophobic, responding with anger and aggressiveness is not the answer (As much as you would love to scare the crud out of the worm). To be honest, you really want to become friends with this person. As we change people’s minds with truth and logic, we gain ground. There are many ways of doing this that I don’t have time to go into here. Take a look at Dr. Thompson’s writing on this exact subject:
I highly recommend this site and this essay particularly.

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