How often have you heard these statements from misguided advocates of victim disarmament, or even woefully uninformed relatives and neighbors? Why do people cling so tightly to these beliefs, in the face of incontrovertible evidence that they are wrong? Why do they get so furiously angry when gun owners point out that their arguments are factually and logically incorrect? How can you communicate with these people who seem to be out of touch with reality and rational thought? One approach to help you deal with anti-gun people is to understand their psychological processes. Once you understand why these people behave so irrationally, you can communicate more effectively with them.
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 didnít want to be murdered if one of his neighbors had a "bad day". (I donít know that this person is a "he", but Iím 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 heís statistically more likely to be murdered by a neighbor who doesnít legally carry a firearm(1) and more likely to be shot accidentally by a law enforcement officer.(2)
How does my correspondent "know" that his neighbors would murder him if they had guns? He doesnít. 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 Ė unconsciously projecting oneís own unacceptable feelings onto other people, so that one doesnít have to own them.(3) In some cases, the intolerable feelings are projected not onto a person, but onto an inanimate object, such as a gun,(4) so that the projector believes the gun itself will murder him.