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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][7]

Hoplophobia is listed simply as a phobia in some medical dictionaries as a fear of weapons or firearms.[8][9][10]

Origin of the term[edit]

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."[11] 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[edit]


  1. ^ a b 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. ^ a b c 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. Archived from the original on 2013-10-02.
  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+. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-05-10. The precise term for such fears is "hoplophobia" (fear of armed citizens)
  7. ^ [1] James C. Ho, Circuit Judge, U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. (July 20, 2018) "Constitutional rights must not give way to hoplophobia." Dissenting from denial of rehearing en banc in case no. 15-10311, Mance vs. Sessions.
  8. ^ Segen, Joseph (13 August 2010). "Concise Dictionary of Modern Medicine". BookBaby – via Google Books.
  9. ^ Doctor, Ronald M.; Kahn, Ada P.; Adamec, Christine (12 May 2010). "The Encyclopedia of Phobias, Fears, and Anxieties, Third Edition". Infobase Publishing – via Google Books.
  10. ^ Colman, Andrew M. (7 April 2018). "A Dictionary of Psychology". Oxford University Press – via Google Books.
  11. ^ φόβος, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus