Legitimate fear of guns?


March 12, 2012, 09:33 PM
We've all heard about people saying that they are scared to death of guns, of course most of this adds up to never being around them and having an irrational fear of what they do not know. However a friend of mine is going through something right now that I have never seen before. This lady friend of mine admitted to me that she doesn't like being around guns but couldn't really tell me why. She wanted to overcome her fear and even get her carry permit. Well she went out and shot with someone else this weekend and has been having panic attacks every since. These panic attacks consist of lots of crying, nervousness, and suicidal thoughts. When she told me about the suicidal thoughts I told her to seek medical treatment immediately, but she refuses. At this point I am against the idea of her getting a permit or buying a gun and there is nothing in this state that would prevent her from doing so since she has not been involuntarily committed. It's like she has a legitimate phobia of guns, anyone ever heard of such?

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March 12, 2012, 09:36 PM
This person needs professional counseling.


The War Wagon
March 12, 2012, 09:40 PM
This person needs professional counseling.


Seconded. Hoplophobia IS a mental disorder. :o

Deus Machina
March 12, 2012, 10:03 PM

'Hoplophobia' is usually used as an epithet around here, but there really is a phobia of weapons.
The trick here would be to figure out if it was a fear of weapons (such that big knives would provoke it, too), guns specifically, or post-traumatic stress disorder from a previous experience, or just an anxiety disorder in general.

That's a job for a professional, not us.

A panic attack around firearms is bad. A panic attack involving suicidal thoughts around anything is really bad. She needs help.

March 12, 2012, 10:06 PM
Wow, I think self applied immersion therapy did not work out for them. I would bet money a therapist would not have sent the person shooting to start off.

I hope the person can get help without triggering EVEN MORE unintended consequences.

March 12, 2012, 10:08 PM
Thanks to all that have responded, and yes, I agree she needs help immediately but she thinks that she has this under control. I know that she does not but I feel that I am pretty much helpless here as far as getting her help. Nothing I can do to make her really.

March 12, 2012, 10:10 PM
Wow, I think self applied immersion therapy did not work out for them. I would bet money a therapist would not have sent the person shooting to start off.

I hope the person can get help without triggering EVEN MORE unintended consequences.She had fired a gun one time, as in one round, several years ago and had no issues. Therefore when she went shooting this time around there was no reason to believe that there was an issue, it wasn't until she actually pulled the trigger that she started having issues.

March 12, 2012, 10:13 PM
My wife had a similar, albeit less severe, reaction last January. She went to the range with me, fired 12 rounds through my K-22, and needed to go. By the time I had us signed out at the range house, she was in the truck, sobbing. To this day, just seeing a gun live and in person gives her the willies and a full-body shiver - but, thankfully, no suicidal thoughts.


March 12, 2012, 11:42 PM
By their very nature phobias aren't "legitimate" because they're an irrational fear.

OTOH, if you recognize that your acquaintance has a real emotional/mental disorder and there's any indication of self harm they have a real disorder and need professional help.

March 12, 2012, 11:43 PM
As a practicing psychologist, I supervise an Anxiety Disorders Clinic. Your friend does not have to live this way. Anxiety disorders, including panic symptoms, are quite treatable. I would be willing to bet there is something else going on in addition to a phobic response to guns. Unmanaged anxiety can be troublesome in many situations; when shooting, driving a car, or even shopping for groceries but is almost never "dangerous". Suicidal thoughts and guns, however, never mix and should be taken seriously. Strongly urge your friend to get help and volunteer to accompany her to help her overcome her reluctance. Help her find suitable services or even offer to call her family on her behalf.

March 13, 2012, 12:12 AM
It's possible something in the past caused the fear?

Went to school with a kid the shot his daddy in the belly duck hunting.....he lived.....but unless something has changed as he aged he wouldn't have nothing to do with guns after that.

March 13, 2012, 04:46 AM
There might be silver lining to this if she gets help. This manifestation may be the tip of the iceberg.

Sav .250
March 13, 2012, 07:02 AM
" Suicidal thoughts." You know that not going to turn out well.

fallout mike
March 13, 2012, 07:51 AM
There are people with phobias against anything you can possibly imagine.

March 13, 2012, 10:31 AM
My gut feeling is for her to get professional help and keep the firearms away from her at all costs! Suicidal thoughts and guns are a BAD combination!

March 13, 2012, 10:49 AM
This person needs professional counseling.



March 13, 2012, 10:55 AM
i bet there are enuff people with other phobias on board this forum.

All are irrational. But not all can be cured. I know people with dog phobia that have never been bitten. Some folks get scary pics in their heads, when sum1 uses a large blade of any kind.

Some people have fear of height or flying, even so they chose to climb the stairs or board the plane.

guns are dangerous, ya know. Thatīs what we admire in them ;)

March 13, 2012, 11:20 AM
Sniper is on the money. You do not get a handle on this by yourself so easily.

March 13, 2012, 11:32 AM
I spoke with a good friend about something similiar to this a couple of years ago.
His neighbor and shooting friend had some guests that came over from Holland for a visit.
Since neither of these people had never even fired a gun before,most likely due to where they are from,they decided to take them to the range.
Well according to my friend the woman's husband throughly enjoyed this new freedom.
The guys wife sunk deep.
The mere fact that they were firing at your standard B 27 target had the woman crying and carrying on in such a bizarre fashion that after three shots she just put the pistol down and was quite an emotional wreck for the rest of that day but the following day as well.
I cant imagine that but there you have it.
The mere words "suicide" would be enough for me to steer them away from any firearms and straight to the head doctors office.

March 13, 2012, 01:57 PM
It might not be what you think. The "suicidal thoughts" could have been along the line of "what if I have a sudden urge to kill myself?" or even "what if I accidentally shoot myself and it looks like a suicide?" and [I]that might be what triggered the fear. She was just afraid of holding something that she could kill herself with that easily. It's not that different from being afraid of walking too close to a high ledge -- just taking it up a notch to a full-blown irrational phobia.

I had a phobia once about filling a certain tax return where I'd filled an extension and then missed the filing date cuz what did it matter; I was getting a $5 refund. Then found out I had miscalculated and owed like $1000. Every time I tried to take care of it, I would break out in a cold sweat. Finally (2 years later), I said "this is stupid" and filed the return and paid my penalty and it wasn't that bad -- once I got through it. But the fear was real, and knowing it was irrational didn't really help much; if anything it made it worse.
There are people with phobias against anything you can possibly imagine.This makes me laugh:


March 13, 2012, 02:02 PM
If someone else has not suggested it yet, keep all firearms away from this person. Then as others have suggested your friend needs to get some kind of professional help with her problem, which I don't believe is totally related to firearms.

Best of luck whatever you do...

BP Hunter
March 13, 2012, 02:46 PM
We all know that guns can be a tool to kill...yourself. ANd for somebody whas has suicidal thoughts, Id' really dissuade that person to own a firearm.

March 13, 2012, 02:51 PM
Nothing legitimate about it. Does she have a fear of other potentially lethal objects? Cars, knives, beer bottles, etc.
It's a symptom of a much larger problem.

March 13, 2012, 05:03 PM
Just because a response is physiological, doesn't make it logical.

March 13, 2012, 05:16 PM
As many others said. Get her some help. now! I was a therapist in a mental hospital for many years and there's no way she or you can handle this without professional help. The fact she claims she has a handle on this only makes it more imperative that she get professional counseling.

Onward Allusion
March 13, 2012, 06:34 PM
Wow! She really sounds like she needs professional help. Like quick. Just out of curiosity, how serious do you think she was when she mentioned suicidal thoughts? It's a tough call for you as a friend. On one hand - call the authorities and her life will never be the same. On the other - no life.

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