Firearms instructor and writer Colonel Jeff Cooper claimed to have coined the word hoplophobia in 1962 to describe a “mental disturbance characterized by irrational aversion to weapons”.

Model 29 .44 magnum

Cooper attributed this behaviour to an irrational fear of firearms and other forms of weaponry. He stated that “the most common manifestation of hoplophobia is the idea that instruments possess a will of their own, apart from that of their user.”

The meaning and usage ascribed by Cooper falls outside of the medical definitions of true specific phobias.

For example, specific phobias require that the person be aware and acknowledge that their fear is irrational, and usually causes some kind of functional impairment. True medical phobias of firearms and other weapons can exist, but are unusual.

“People with guns don’t understand. That’s why they get guns, too many misunderstandings.”

– Jerry Seinfeld

When looked at objectively, it could be argued that a phobia of firearms – even though it is hard to diagnose a true medical fear such as hoplophobia – is not that irrational especially when compared to, say, the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth (known as Arachibutyrophobia). Since almost all, if not all firearms have the potential to be lethal, the irrationality of the fear of those instruments diminishes enormously.

“Guns don’t kill people. People kill people. Obviously. If you believe guns kill people out of their own volition you should see a specialist in mental health. People kill people. There’s the clue. It turns out to be quite obvious that people can’t be trusted with those instruments – so why are firearms still legal? How many children a year are killed by their father’s stash of arsenic or stick of gelignite?”

– anonymous source from the bloggersphere

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