A psychiatrist Examines The Anti-Gun Mentality
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.
Projection is a defense mechanism. Defense mechanisms are unconscious psychological mechanisms that protect us from feelings that we cannot consciously accept.(5) They operate without our awareness, so that we donít have to deal consciously with "forbidden" feelings and impulses. Thus, if you asked my eĖmail correspondent if he really wanted to murder his neighbors, he would vehemently deny it, and insist that other people want to kill him.