End hoplophobia now! (The Madness of Liberal Superstition)

Renew America Freedom-living Americans face many grave threats to their liberty. We confront the impending federal takeover and destruction of our health care system, the threatened takeover of the internet, the already-accomplished takeover of our banking and automotive industries — it seems there's precious little that Obama and Co. don't want to "take over" and install a "Czar" to rule over. Yet, one of the gravest threats to our liberty comes in the form of a prejudice that is becoming more deeply embedded into our society with each passing day. This prejudice attacks and condemns one of the key foundations of our freedom and our independence, as individual citizens and as a nation. We're seeing a cabal of haters and bigots out there who want to take away our civil rights, narrow-minded extremists and dogmatists who despise and fear those who are different from them. These bigots go so far as to demean and dehumanize the targets of their blind, irrational hatred. Many of these haters would even like to see a day when those whom they hate are forcibly suppressed by the police apparatus of the state, and perhaps even institutionalized as being psychologically defective.

These haters are called hoplophobes, and theirs is an ugly, irrational hatred.

The term hoplophobia was first used in 1962 by world-renowned handgun instructor Colonel Jeff Cooper, who defined it as, "....a mental disturbance characterized by irrational aversion to weapons." He said that, "the most common manifestation of hoplophobia is the idea that instruments possess a will of their own, apart from that of their user." I would suggest that this irrational fear extends also to the attitude that hoplophobes have for gun owners, as well. We have many, many people across this land who are visibly shaken by even the sight of a firearm, who quiver and break into a cold sweat when they see someone carrying openly, and who would faint to the floor if they knew the guy next to them was legally concealing a snubnose .38 wheelgun in a shoulder holster.

What drives the phobic reaction of these firearm haters? It isn't the fear of crime — after all, law-abiding citizens don't commit crimes, and gun control does nothing to stop crime. This point was illustrated for us in Washington, D.C. where, as the Washington Times observes, a year has passed since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the District's hoplophobic near-total ban on handgun ownership, and yet not a single one of the legally-obtained handguns owned by Washingtonians has been used in the commission of a crime, nor has a single one been stolen out of somebody's home — which undermines two of the primary arguments used by the bigots in support of their hatemongering prejudice against guns and gunowners. Further, as Wayne LaPierre illustrated so well in his book Guns, Crime, and Freedom, widespread gun ownership actually helps to stop crimes before they happen; it is estimated that more than half a million crimes — ranging from robberies to burglaries to rapes — are prevented each year because of the deterrent factor related to the fact that the guy you thought you'd rob ended up sticking a pistol in your face. Contrary to what the hysterical anti-gunners were predicting, both violent and property crimes have actually gone down in the Capitol when compared to this time last year — which seems to suggest a deterrent effect for even the small number of guns currently owned legally in D.C.

What about the old bugaboo of children being killed in firearm accidents? Well, as tragic as any accident that takes the life of a child is, if these are to serve as an excuse for harassing, regulating, and generally hating on gun owners, then these hoplophobes also need to become hydrophobes (fearing water), pyrophobes (fearing fire), and motorphobes (fearing automobiles). According to statistics compiled by GunCite, in 2000, children under the age of 14 were more likely to die from drowning (800), burns and other fire-related incidents (660), and automobile accidents (2,400) than from firearms-related accidents (80). Indeed, hoplophobes are given to misrepresenting statistics involving children and firearms so as to try to make their bigotry more socially acceptable. For instance, it is not unusual to see anti-gun groups claim that anywhere from 2,500 to 3,500 children are killed in firearms-related incidents each year. What they don't tell you is that most of these incidents involve crimes — teenagers (or sometimes people all the way up to 24 years of age are counted as "children") committing crimes, gang-related incidents, and so forth. In the overwhelming majority of these cases, the death is the result of foul play involving a firearm that was obtained illegally, and against which all the gun control laws and regulations in the world were powerless. Frankly, we need to be licensing, regulating, and banning swimming pools and automobiles before we ban guns, if actual statistics mean anything.

So no, this irrational hoplophobia can't be attributed to legitimate concerns about the criminality of lawful gun owners or widespread cases of unsecured firearms being easily available to children on every street corner. What drives this fear? What is the motivation for the bigotry against gun owners and their power tools?

Well, as the name suggests, this condition is a phobia — an irrational and exaggerated fear of something that otherwise would not need to be feared in a normal context by a reasonable person. A robber who finds a 12-guage in his face has a contextually reasonable fear of a firearm. A pencil-necked Obama supporter who is absurdly mortified that his neighbor owns a BB-gun does not have that excuse — he or she is a hoplophobe. Even though we live in a tolerant, progressive, modern society that claims to eschew bigotries and unreasonable fear and hatred for those who are not like us, we nevertheless see that many in this country consider hoplophobia to be completely acceptable. And unfortunately for those of us who simply want to be left in peace to enjoy our God-given right to keep and bear arms, the hoplophobes are hard at work trying to take away that liberty.

For decades, they tried, with only partial success, to simply legislate away our freedom. Succeeding mostly in large cities stuffed full of Democrat voters, these hoplophobes have managed to disarm and bring into subjection large segments of our urban population. Yet, they could not extend this success much further. Many states just weren't going to put up with it — because they were rural, because they were Southern, or because they were simply populated by too many voters with a forward-looking view of their rights and freedoms. These states — full of those whom the hoplophobes derisively call "rednecks" (I prefer the term "Rustic-American") — refused to enact draconian gun laws, and their representatives at the federal level have helped to block a lot of otherwise tyrannical legislation. The courts have been even harder on the hoplophobes, who have a noticeably poor track record in getting the Supreme Court to go along with their hatemongering.

Guess what? The hoplophobes seems to be taking a new tack towards enforcing their prejudices upon us. Realizing that they'll never get anywhere as long as there are millions of motivated Americans who feel not the least bit of shame in owning guns and lobbying legislators to allow them to keep owning them, the 'phobes have turned to trying to undermine the legitimacy of America's gun culture in the hearts of the people. This is what happened in Europe — a couple of generations of Britons, Frenchman, Germans, and others were propagandized to believe that guns were horrible, icky instruments of death and destruction and that no socially acceptable person would own one. So now, none do. Therein lies the key. American hoplophobes would like to do the same thing here. They can't enforce their will directly with more laws, so they instead seek to undermine the culture which views gun ownership as a legitimate right of the people, as well as a positive expression of civic duty.

You see this all around us. You can see it in the hordes of hoplophobic suburban soccer moms who won't let their kids come over to your house to play with your kids if they know that you have a firearm of any sort in the house (even if it's unloaded, broken down, and stored in a maglocked safe!) You can see it with the people who call the cops if kids in the neighborhood are running around playing with obviously fake pink and green water guns. In many districts, public school officials are trained to drop hints to the kids that only "bad people" own guns. Pediatricians ask parents if they have firearms in the house — presumably so that the local Child Services can be notified about potential "hazards" — and children are encouraged to divulge this information without parents being present. The whole point is to plant in the minds of the next generation the idea that guns are bad, bad guys have guns (except for government officials, of course), and that no good citizen would ever need to own one.

At the same time, hoplophobes seek to suppress any expression of gun ownership or approval of the practice among adults. Many corporations include websites about firearms or firearm accessories in their list of sites to block — right up there with porn and the stuff about making bombs. The media routinely lies about the motivations and intentions of people who choose to carry firearms on their person — as CBS and MSNBC recently did when it peddled false stories about those who were open carrying at some of the townhall protests and other gatherings. In polite society, guns shouldn't be mentioned, and you shouldn't let on that you own any — that's a good way not to get invited to any more cocktail parties or afternoon coffee klatches. Popular culture — the movies, television, and so forth — present a dual picture on guns. Police and military types should have them and do great, heroic things with them, but anyone else who has one is a bucktoothed rube who is likely to either shoot himself with it, or else is some sort of racist moron who intends to do harm to a Person of Color. Again, the idea is to plant the meme in the minds of the people that there's just something unacceptable — something fishy, if you will — about somebody who does or wants to own a gun. Eventually they'll probably set up an email address at the White House so you can snitch on people like that.

Friends, countrymen, fellow gunowners — we need to get serious about affirming the gun culture in this nation. It's not enough to merely fight a series of legislative battles, only to find that the hoplophobic Left has perpetrated a successful cultural end run around us with our children and our neighbors. We have to make sure that the love and respect for firearms is passed on to our children. We need to actively dispel the rumors, myths, and lies that those hoplophobes around us might tell. We need to be "in your face" in affirming not only the social acceptability of firearm ownership, but its social benefit, its social goodness. Let's fight the course of our popular culture, and make it cool to be a gun owner again. Let's end hoplophobia now!

© Tim Dunkin http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/dunkin/090831