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Hoplophobia is a political neologism coined by retired American military officer Jeff Cooper as a pejorative to describe an "irrational aversion to weapons."[1][2][3] It is also used to describe the "fear of firearms"[4][5] or the "fear of armed citizens."[6] Hoplophobia is a political term and not a recognized medical phobia.

Origin of the term

American firearms expert and retired Marine colonel Jeff Cooper coined the word in 1962 to denigrate and anger proponents of gun control by implying that their thoughts were "aberrant" and unreasoning:

"I coined the term "hoplophobia" in 1962 in response to a perceived need for a word to describe a mental aberration consisting of an unreasoning terror of gadgetry, specifically, weapons. The most common manifestation of hoplophobia is the idea that instruments possess a will of their own, apart from that of their user. This is not a reasoned position, but when you point this out to a hoplophobe he is not impressed because his is an unreasonable position. To convince a man that he is not making sense is not to change his viewpoint but rather to make an enemy. Thus hoplophobia is a useful word, but as with all words, it should be used correctly."[2]

The term was constructed from the Greek ὅπλον – hoplon, meaning, amongst other things, "arms," and φόβος – phobos, meaning "fear."[7] Cooper employed the term as just another alternative to other slang terms, stating: "We read of 'gun grabbers' and 'anti-gun nuts' but these slang terms do not [explain this behavior]." Cooper's conjecture was that "the most common manifestation of hoplophobia is the idea that instruments possess a will of their own, apart from that of their user."[2] Writing in an opinion piece, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review columnist Dimitri Vassilaros said that the term was intended by Cooper as tongue-in-cheek to mock those who think guns have free will.[1]

See also


  1. 1 2 Vassilaros, Dimitri (January 8, 2006). "Bloomberg's hoplophobia". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Retrieved 2012-08-24. Hoplophobia is a tongue-in-cheek neurosis "discovered" in 1962 by firearms instructor Jeff Cooper to mock those who think guns have free will. Or any will for that matter.
  2. 1 2 3 Cooper, Jeff. Vol. 5 No. 7 Jeff Cooper's Commentaries. June 1997, pg. 39.
  3. Cooper, Jeff (1990). To Ride, Shoot Straight, and Speak the Truth. Boulder, Colorado: Paladin Press. pp. 16–19.
  4. Segen, Joseph (2006). Concise Dictionary of Modern Medicine. New York: McGraw-Hill. p. 307. ISBN 0-8385-1535-5. hoplophobia PSYCHOLOGY Fear of firearms. See Phobia
  5. Ninan; Dunlop (2006). Contemporary Diagnosis and Management of Anxiety Disorders. Pennsylvania: Handbooks in Health Care. p. 107. ISBN 1-931981-62-0. Table 7-1 Names of Some Phobias...Unusual...Hoplophobia-fear of firearms
  6. Kopel, David (2005). "The licensing of concealed handguns for lawful protection: support from five state Supreme Courts" (PDF). Albany Law Review. 68 (2): 305+. The precise term for such fears is "hoplophobia" (fear of armed citizens)
  7. φόβος, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
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