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Hoplophobia – The Fear of Firearms

Do You Have an Excessive Fear of Firearms?

We’ve all heard someone say, “Oh, I don’t like those things,” or ” Get that gun away, it scares me.” But some have a much deeper fear of guns—an excessive, debilitating fear.

Do you break into a cold sweat in the gun section at Walmart?

Do guns firing give you a horrible feeling in the pit of your stomach?

Sure, you might not be a hunter or a sports shooter, but even being near guns terrifies you.

You may be suffering from hoplophobia, or a fear of firearms.

A Comprehensive Look at Hoplophobia, the Fear of Firearms

If watching cops and robbers on TV—or even news where firearms are involved—causes you to lose focus or control, you may worry about what’s happening to you. Perhaps the mere sight of firearms causes you to spiral into an unexplainable and uncontrollable panic. You may have hoplophobia.

This fear can cause you to lose control of your thoughts and actions. It can be an unpleasant feeling leaving you overwhelmed and physically drained. People around you may not know how to react to your sudden panic. Instead of being helpful, they may be quick to judge.

An Irrational Fear of Firearms

You know that firearms are a form of protection. Police authorities use them to help save and defend lives, but this doesn’t comfort you. For you, firearms trigger fear regardless of the situation.

Take deep, slow breaths. Know that somewhere, someone shares the same fear as you. With the right mindset and a strong will, you can manage this condition and release yourself from this fear.

Hoplophobia Causes

Like most phobias, hoplophobia can be caused by a traumatic experience you might have had when you were younger. Perhaps you were shot at and survived. You may have been directly or indirectly involved in a shooting experience and witnessed death from the shooting. It’s possible you watched a gruesome and intense scene involving guns in a movie or from the news, and it rattled you to the core.

Hoplophobia Can Be a Learned Behavior

The fear could also be a learned behavior watching your elders while growing up. There might have been a shooting incident where a family member was involved. As a result, firearms were considered taboo in your home and consistently associated with death, fear, and unpleasantness.

Growing up, you may have had family who understood and shared the same fear as you. However, facing it alone is a different story and your fear always gets the better of you.

Quick Facts about Hoplophobia

Hoplophobia is a common phobia. It’s defined as the fear of weapons, specifically firearms. It encompasses weapons like shotguns, rifles, and pistols. It comes from the Greek word hoplon which stands for weapon, and phobos, meaning fear.

More Than a Fear of Firearms

This specific phobia is not just limited to firearms. It can also manifest as an irrational fear of those carrying or using weapons. It doesn’t matter if the firearm is being used to serve and protect the innocent, because once the unfounded fear kicks in, you can’t differentiate good from bad. Therefore, you find yourself focusing solely on the firearm and nothing else.

Hoplophobia may cause you to fear the weapon, the one using it, and the damage and havoc it can cause. Thus, you perceive it as a destructive and deadly weapon—never as an instrument for saving or protecting lives.

Colonel Jeff Cooper, a former Marine and popular firearms instructor, once described this irrational fear as a mental disturbance. He said people who are afraid of firearms believe that firearms have a life and will of their own. Mental health professionals, on the other hand, generally attribute phobias such as hoplophobia to one’s genetics and/or environment.

Hoplophobia Symptoms

The range of symptoms of hoplophobia are the same as other phobias. There is no one distinct symptom for the fear of firearms.

These manifestations are generally classified as physical and mental/emotional symptoms.

Physical Symptoms

  • Breathlessness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Discomfort
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Extreme sweating
  • Feeling faint
  • Headaches
  • Hyperventilating
  • Nausea
  • Rapid pulse
  • Sleeplessness

Mental/Emotional Symptoms

  • Fear of getting hurt
  • Fear of dying
  • Extreme anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Self-doubt
  • Shame

The extent and severity of symptoms are unique for each person. Some might experience physical symptoms for a few minutes while others may have a myriad of symptoms which impact their daily activities.

Dealing with Hoplophobia

Most of those who have hoplophobia know their fear borders on the irritational. However, this perspective is forgotten once they’re overcome by terror. It’s a complex mental battle.

Since hoplophobia can affect one’s mental health and relationships with others, those struggling with the fear are encouraged to seek help to overcome and manage their fear as soon as possible.

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