Those who imagine themselves the cultural elites frequently resort to diagnosing their opponents with a variety disorders in order to explain the reasons for their disagreement. After all, when you’re a smart, Ivy League-educated egg-head, the only reason someone would disagree with you is if there is something wrong with him that affects his ability to think rationally. So, those who argue for traditional marriage are homophobic. Those who support enforcement of federal immigration laws are xenophobic. And so it goes. Yet, there is one area where these self-proclaimed shrinks fail to recognize a phobia of their own: Guns.
Hoplophobia, according to Wikipedia, is the “fear of weapons” or the “fear of armed citizens.” There is no better term to define the media’s (and much of the political establishment’s) reaction to the events in Denver this weekend. It didn’t take long before members of Congress, the media, and scores of other people began calling for new gun control laws. The country was simply ablaze with the story. While truly tragic, a car crash in Texas that same weekend, which actually managed to kill more people than the shooter in Colorado, generated almost no publicity (even as a report came out indicating that traffic deaths have increased 13.5% this year). Yet, no one is talking about banning cars (or illegal immigration for that matter). So, what gives?
I think the reaction largely has to do with people’s fear of guns. Some people are simply scared to death of them and would prefer not to have anything to do with them. This would explain why such things as the Federal Assault Weapons Ban (which effectively outlawed “scary” guns) remain popular in some circles. However, these hoplophobes ignore some rather crucial bits of information. First, the movie theater in Aurora was already a gun-free zone. Indeed, many of the places where these mass shootings occur are “gun-free” zones. Virginia Tech, Columbine, and most of the other high-profile shootings of the last 20 years were all gun-free zones. It turns out that these places were gun-free zones for everyone except the guy with the gun. Additionally, the hoplophobes also ignore many of the incidents where an armed citizen saved the day. Naturally, these incidents aren’t reported by the media, because… well, nothing happened. All anyone hears about guns is how much harm they cause. No one ever hears about the number of lives they save.
Hoplophobes ought to work to overcome their fear. It’s unknown what effect (if any) the presence of an armed citizen in the movie theater would have made. But how many times are we told that if some program or policy or law can save (or improve) just one life, it’s worth doing (that’s why we have ObamaCare, right?)? While such a fear of guns is certainly understandable, that doesn’t make it any more rational. Guns are merely a tool, and attempting to ban or restrict their use will not prevent bad things from happening. If you ban guns, people will simply find more creative ways to kill each other. The fact of the matter is that there’s evil in the world, and that is one thing you cannot legislate away.