by Sarah Thompson, M.D.
About a year ago I received an e-mail from a member of a local Jewish organization. The author, who chose to remain anonymous, insisted that people have no right to carry firearms because he didn’t want to be murdered if one of his neighbors had a “bad day”. (I don’t know that this person is a “he”, but I’m assuming so for the sake of simplicity.) I responded by asking him why he thought his neighbors wanted to murder him, and, of course, got no response. The truth is that he’s statistically more likely to be murdered by a neighbor who doesn’t legally carry a firearm and more likely to be shot accidentally by a law enforcement officer.
How does my correspondent “know” that his neighbors would murder him if they had guns? He doesn’t. What he was really saying was that if he had a gun, he might murder his neighbors if he had a bad day, or if they took his parking space, or played their stereos too loud. This is an example of what mental health professionals call projection – unconsciously projecting one’s own unacceptable feelings onto other people, so that one doesn’t have to own them. In some cases, the intolerable feelings are projected not onto a person, but onto an inanimate object, such as a gun, so that the projector believes the gun itself will murder him. [snip]
Another defense mechanism commonly utilized by supporters of gun control is denial. Denial is simply refusing to accept the reality of a given situation. For example, consider a woman whose husband starts coming home late, has strange perfume on his clothes, and starts charging flowers and jewelry on his credit card. She may get extremely angry at a well–meaning friend who suggests that her husband is having an affair. The reality is obvious, but the wronged wife is so threatened by her husband’s infidelity that she is unable to accept it, and so denies its existence.
Anti–gun people do the same thing. [snip]
Reaction formation is yet another defense mechanism common among the anti–gun folks. Reaction formation occurs when a person’s mind turns an unacceptable feeling or desire into its complete opposite. For example, a child who is jealous of a sibling may exhibit excessive love and devotion for the hated brother or sister.
Likewise, a person who harbors murderous rage toward his fellow humans may claim to be a devoted pacifist and refuse to eat meat or even kill a cockroach. Often such people take refuge in various spiritual disciplines and believe that they are “superior” to “less civilized” folks who engage in “violent behavior” such as hunting, or even target shooting. They may devote themselves to “animal welfare” organizations that proclaim that the rights of animals take precedence over the rights of people. This not only allows the angry person to avoid dealing with his rage, it allows him actually to harm the people he hates without having to know he hates them. [snip]
Also, it’s important to remember that not all anti–gun beliefs are the result of defense mechanisms. Some people suffer from gun phobia, an excessive and completely irrational fear of firearms, usually caused by the anti–gun conditioning they’ve been subjected to by the media, politicians, so–called “educators,” and others. In some cases, gun phobia is caused by an authentic bad experience associated with a firearm. But with all due respect to Col. Jeff Cooper, who coined the term “hoplophobia” to describe anti–gun people, most anti–gun people do not have true phobias. Interestingly, a person with a true phobia of guns realizes his fear is excessive or unreasonable, something most anti–gun folks will never admit. [snip]
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