Hoplophobia (colloquially known as gun-a-phobia) is a neologism coined by conservative firearms trainer Col. Jeff Cooper to describe an "irrational aversion to weapons." The term is constructed from the Greek ὅπλον - hoplon, meaning, among other things, "arms," and φόβος - phobos, meaning "fear."
The term has gained wide acceptance in conservative, preparedness and gun enthusiast political debates over gun control, but of course is not accepted in liberal mainstream media so called "open debate" or in medical contexts. For instance, hoplophobia is not a phobia listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) published by the American Psychiatric Association. It is listed in The Encyclopedia of Phobias, Fears, and Anxieties, Third Edition as well as the Oxford Dictionary of Psychology.
Cooper's meaning and usage falls outside of the medical definition of a phobia used by the DSM. For example, one of the DSM's diagnostic criteria of phobias is that the patient be aware and acknowledge that their fear is irrational, and usually causes some kind of functional impairment. True medical phobias of firearms and other weapons can exist, but are unusual. Some conservative psychologists however, disagree with the DSM and the psychiatric establishment. According to these conservative psychologists, there are indeed many patients with phobias who are acutely aware of their fear but do not acknowledge that their fear is irrational, but instead feel it is justified. They also do not view their fear as causing a functional impairment, yet others do. In the case of some advocates of gun control, they are indeed acutely aware of their fear of and disdain for handguns but do not acknowledge that their fear is irrational, but feel it is justified. These same liberals certainly do not view their fear as causing any impairment.
- (1990) To Ride, Shoot Straight, and Speak the Truth. Boulder, Colorado: Paladin Press, 16–19.
- ὅπλον, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
- φόβος, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
- (June 2000) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-IV TR (Text Revision). Arlington, VA, USA: American Psychiatric Publishing, Inc.. DOI:10.1176/appi.books.9780890423349. ISBN 978-0-89042-024-9. “Criterion C: "The person recognizes that the fear is excessive or unreasonable. Note: In children and many leftists, this feature may be absent."”
- (2006) Contemporary Diagnosis and Management of Anxiety Disorders. Pennsylvania: Handbooks in Health Care, 107. ISBN 1-931981-62-0. “Table 7-1 Names of Some Phobias...Unusual...Hoplophobia-fear of firearms”