Anti-gunner. Gun grabber. Hoplophobe. None of these terms are exactly right to describe those who are bent on taking away our guns. What we need is a word that captures the malice of those who do not want you armed, not because they fear guns, but because they hate the idea that free men have the right to bear them.
Col. Jeff Cooper coined the term “hoplophobia,” meaning “a mental aberration consisting of an unreasoning terror of [...] weapons” and that hoplophobes believe “that instruments possess a will of their own.” He admonished that this word should be used correctly. Phobia implies an irrational, unjustified fear; a hoplophobe is the reporter who trembles uncontrollably shouldering an AR-15 in the name of “journalism.” Someone who wants to eradicate guns like Al Gore crusades against global-whatever is not strictly terrified of guns. There is another mechanism at work.
Hoplophobia fails to capture the malevolence of anti-gun activists, organizations, and legislation. The parties involved in the anti-gun movement understand guns and gun owners and their motives are not driven by a deficit of knowledge. These are not they who can learn and be reasoned with. Victims of tragedy have let their wounds fester and their cancer metastasize. If they are intelligent, they deflect and ignore contradictory information that might jeopardize their feelings.
Fear or dislike of guns, especially after a trauma like the Route 91 shooting, is natural and understandable. As phobias are characterized by excessive and unreasonable fears, a reasonable reaction is a personal choice of avoiding firearms. An unreasonable reaction is a fear that is pathological, irrational, and hysterical; hoplophobia.
A brief analogy would be the reasonable soldier who simply chooses never to touch a gun after coming home from the war, but supports his neighbor’s right to carry and hunt, versus a politician who, after being shot, goes on the war path to ban guns instead of improve mental health treatment. Most people don’t like mice, but most people don’t start screaming and climbing on chairs when they see one. One reaction is reasonable, the other is excessive.
Yet many others who have suffered loss or injury by guns turn a personal preference to avoid guns in a mission to eradicate gun ownership. It is one who chooses to impose their anti-gun stance upon all that is inexcusable.
True hoplophobes have a naive belief that guns are the source of the problem of violence, which is captured in Cooper’s statement that firearms act on their own. It doesn’t have to make sense. The phobic do not understand guns and, like many humans throughout time who don’t understand powerful forces, they have ascribed guns near magical qualities.
A New Term
But is “hoplophobia” the right term for anti-gunners; those who oppose gun ownership and go out of their way to make the Second Amendment go extinct? “Anti-gunner” itself is an inelegant term for the individuals, so I propose the new words “hoplopathy” and “hoplopath,” the first for the concept (anti-gun) and the second for the person, the gun grabber.
Hoplopathy is the characteristic of hating firearms and gun owners. A hoplopath is a person who displays antipathy (an aversion or repugnance) towards firearms and gun owners. Hoplopath incorporates a new word, antipath, or one who holds an antipathy. “Gun antipath” would be another way of saying hoplopath. The roots are from the Ancient Greek, hoplo for weapon and antipátheia, or dislike. The suffix -pathy means “suffering,” “feeling”; or in modern medical terms, “morbid affection,” “disease.”
Antipathy is synonymous with disdain, but carries the weight of contempt and hatred. Specifically, antipathy is:
Thus, a hoplopath:
Holopaths look upon and treat gun owners with contempt. They despise and scorn gun owners. Because hoplopaths see their ideology as superior, pro-gun arguments, studies, and objective evidence are unworthy of notice because it must be wrong. That “must” can mean that to accomplish their purposes the pro- evidence has to be wrong or that since their ideology is correct, any evidence to the contrary is inherently wrong on a moral basis.
Control is what separates the -paths from the -phobes. -Paths feel that they can exert control to order the world around them for the public (or their own) good, while -phobes feel that they lack any control over a dangerous, unpredictable world. The emotional reactions are different as well. -Paths feel indignation and not being able to exercise control.-Phobes, being in their eyes at the mercy of the world, experience fear created from uncertainty.
Hoplophobes are almost pathetic, fearing guns the way ancient men feared the darkness and told stories of vampires and warewolves. When they express their opinions, they spew misinformation and hyperbolic fears like a Puritan crying “witch!” The only valid response for a gun rights supporter is to bite their tongue and shake their head. As Col. Cooper said, trying to talk sense to them only makes more of an enemy.
Hoplopaths do not jump at shadows. They understand that people are the problem, not guns, but for their own reasons, they support gun control. Whereas the phobic are seldom spurred to do more than whine, the hoplopathic take action. There are overlaps between the two, but calling someone afraid of guns is incorrect when they are not, but what they are is vehemently unsupportive of gun rights. The phobic fear the gun; the hoplopath hates and fears the gun owner.
Since the hoplopath’s position is not one based on facts or logic, but emotion (or malice), anything that does not support the anti-gun position might as well not exist. To them, firearms would be as distasteful and disgusting as images of gore are to most people. None wish to learn about guns, the culture, or the facts that betray the knee-jerk reaction to the evening news reports of violence. Any curiosity is limited to a morbid examination of the strange “pathology” of gun culture. Their opposition is not one that can ever be reversed. It is purely a blind antipathy, unmoved by the most convincing evidence or compelling stories.
We can split hoplopaths into three groups: the emotional, the ignorant, and the malicious. Overlap occurs frequently and are generally indistinguishable when it comes to results.
The malicious are the Shannon Watts and Michael Bloombergs of the world; part of this malice is the control of nanny-statism. Mother and Father know best and must work to control the unruly hoi pilloi for our collective benefit. This category can overlap significantly with the emotional group, such as Jim and Sarah Brady or Gabby and Mark Giffords, victims of infamous assassination attempts. This group is special because it pursues disarmament, whether putatively “noble” in purpose or for more nefarious goals. These antagonistic hoplopaths are smart enough to know gun control does not work, but for deep ideological reasons side with disarmament.
The emotional are not irrational, but more controlled by emotion than logic, their hoplopathy originating from a feeling (often they are hoplophobic too). Subjective, internal feelings are more instructive to their decision making and beliefs than anything else, often powerfully so. In many other areas of their life, they can rationalize and even be quite intelligent people. Here, trauma or their concern for the general well-being of humanity points them in the wrong direction.
For most who do not inhabit the halls of power, support for gun control seems to be a way to resolve internal conflicts over the negative uses of guns. Thus, crime victims get involved as a way to cope with their emotions and rectify the damage of the harm done to them. Yet the overwhelming majority of anti-gun activists treat guns as the problem, rather than their misuse. The human factors that form the roots of violence go unsolved as the object becomes fetishized, creating more victims (of criminals or of the government) as the symptoms, but not the disease, is treated.
There is no good explanation for exactly why hoplopaths hate guns. It can only be a spiritual blindness; a delusion so strong that what objectively is true is invisible to them and offensive as well. Leftist causes that seek to cure the ills of mankind with a panacea defy easy understanding. We can only examine the psychology behind these people and understand part of their motivations. Rationalizing the causes and reasoning behind why hoplopaths do what they do is impossible, but we can try to discern the internal processes at work.
To be continued...
Clayton E. Cramer
Gun Free Zone
The War on Guns
The View From Out West