It’s about high-time I cover this particular subject that I’ve tackled in personal email and in web forums on multiple occasions. I have so-far skirted this thing because I’ve been trying to organize my thoughts so I can actually put something down that’s intellectual and fully portrays my divergent thoughts on it.
Of course, the anti’s are totally opposed to Open Carry, as they are completely opposed to an armed citizen no matter what the carry method, concealed or open. Those that push for greater gun control would rather see women raped, and good people murdered than to see a responsible citizen protect himself and his family (using ‘him’ in the perfectly acceptable, general sense, of course). They will preach that someone with a gun is more likely to shoot themselves or someone they love than they are to stop a crime, and that a victim’s best choice of defense is no defense at all. They will say, ‘don’t fight your attacker, just give them what they want,’ like your money, your body, your life. I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy any of that.
The big supporters of Open Carry feel like the mere sight of a firearm will deter most criminals. I feel like this is a very dangerous partial truth. I feel like MOST criminals specifically target those they feel are the weakest, easiest target. It is hard to argue that someone visibly carrying a gun fits the mold of the easy target. However, I also feel like there are some criminals – those who would specifically assault a police officer, for example – who would not be deterred, but may in fact be encouraged by the sight of a sidearm on a potential victim. Think ‘The Most Dangerous Game’ mentality. I don’t ever want to have to use my gun against another human being if I can in any way avoid it, but I sure as heck don’t want to rumble with one of these aforementioned sociopaths.
The gunnies that are opposed to Open Carry cite that it is a tactical disadvantage, as those with ill-intent can tell exactly whom is armed. I will concede that if I’m wearing a visible side-arm, and some thugs come in to the store where I’m shopping, the likelihood of them shooting me down is greatly increased. If they don’t know who in this same store is armed, and who is not, ambiguity and anonymity are my friends. I have now gained the advantage of surprise. There is much merit to this stance, and I respect it.
Now, please allow me to weigh in. Personally, I feel like the masses that have not been educated about firearms safety and the shooting sports gain every ounce of their knowledge from the media. The media is a terrible educator. Between Hollywood (where guns are very nearly as good as completely illegal) and the sensationalistic news, we are taught that there are two types of people who have guns: Cops and Bad Guys. If you find out that someone has a gun, and they aren’t a cop, then guess what that makes them? I’ve had people gain the knowledge that I am a gun owner to elicit the verbal response, “That scares me.”
I feel like if the majority (i. e. more than half) of non-criminal adults routinely Open Carried a handgun, it would serve to completely knock down the negative perception that the media has set up of gun culture. Many would say that taking these people to the gun range would have a similar effect, and I have to agree. However, I can’t take a million people to the gun range. I can take a handful. Among the people that I’ve taken to the gun range that would not have gone otherwise, well over half of them have become gun owners and target shooters themselves. On the other hand, if I was one of many people that were regularly seen carrying a side arm, gun ownership would be normalized to the masses. No longer would the perception be that only cops and bad guys own guns. The perception would quickly shift to one that guns are owned and used by cops, bad guys, and Bob the shoe salesman, Fran the hair-dresser, Chuck the banker, and most of the parents of children who are in your child’s class.
Proposals for anti-gun legislation would broadly be seen as stupid and pointless as they actually are. The anti’s would lose the battle by such a crushing defeat that we would see the creep of legislation go the other way. Class-III weapons would lose their classification as it would widely be realized that these items do indeed have useful purposes in the world beyond inflicting vice and provoking terror. It is my personal opinion that a wide-spread practice of Open Carry would fix, once and for all, the problem of negative gun perception in this country.
But, I digress. This is a pipe-dream. In states where Open Carry is legal, it is not wide-spread, but rather is quite unusually practiced. There are countless testimonies of Open Carriers being stopped by local law enforcement, as not even the officers understand what Open Carry actually is or that it is legal in their jurisdictions. As such, where it exists, Open Carry seems to pose much more of a problem than it does an advantage. What bothers me more than anything else is that I don’t see this as a problem that has a viable solution.
If tomorrow, I woke up as the guy in charge, that is to say if I completely got my way; every, single, last, non-criminal adult would Openly Carry a gun that they were well-trained and well-practiced with. There would be no restrictions on where you could or could not carry, and everyone would be held to the same high standards that they currently already are here in the real world. If you commit an inexcusable crime, you will lose your privilege and right to own or carry a gun, more often than not even after repaying your debt to society.
I don’t need to go into great detail on why this would never work, but allow me to attempt to quickly explain myself. People who vote for the politician who promises with such obvious emptiness that he’ll take care of their medical bills cannot be trusted with an instrument of life and death, in my humble opinion. People who absolutely have to have heated seats, automatic windshield wipers, and automatic headlights don’t have the presence of mind to operate or be responsible with a tool such as a handgun. Individuals that think that carbon dioxide is killing the Earth, and yet if they pay enough money they can be exempt from their own advice don’t deserve to make a life or death decision. Those that don’t see the value in neutralizing a self-declared enemy in foreign lands lack the judgment necessary to make a decision on when to run away or when to stand one’s ground and use the best weapon immediately available. I think I’ve knocked out a pretty good majority of American adult society already.
Besides that, if as many people as I’ve specified were able to train, practice and carry in order to Open Carry, the argument is moot as there would be no one left to educate correctly. If the vast majority of non-criminal adults were already active in the shooting sports, my primary goal of Open Carry would already be achieved. If it was already common knowledge that pretty much everybody you came across was armed, it’s true that concealed carry would be stupid. People would say, ‘We’ve all got them, why don’t we just wear them openly?’ And then, my friends, Open Carry would be the symptom and not the cure.