Open Carry

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.

Thoughts?

Opinions?

4 thoughts on “Open Carry

  1. If you’re not a drug dealer, gang banger or other criminal, your chances of being involved in a violent encounter of any type are quite small. The chances of you running into one of the handful of people ruthless enough and determined enough to attack in spite of visibly armed people and simply gun down those with visible firearms out of hand is so small as to be virtually nonexistent.

    In a country of 300 million, with over 800,000 sworn law enforcement officers. There are generally about 50 felonious homicides of Police Officers each year and only about 450 assaults on Police Officers involving firearms (from DOJ statistics). Basically, Police Officers have about a .05% chance of running into one of those who “would specifically assault a police officer” during the course of any given year, and in the VAST majority of those cases, the openly armed police officer successfully defends himself.

    Basically, all that is to say that, yes there is a minuscule possibility of running into a criminal who wouldn’t be deterred by an openly carrying citizen and would simply target them first, but I personally think the threat is WAY overblown by the tactical tommies out there.

    I’d prefer to never, ever have to use my firearm in self defense. With that preference in mind, I think the potential for causing a criminal to avoid me altogether and seek out a soft target very much outweighs the potential loss of “tactical advantage” on the extremely small chance that the perpetrator might choose to attack anyway.

    As far as people being harassed…yes, it happens; but Virginia can be a case study in the evolution of an Open carry movement. As you may know, Opencarry.org is based in Northern Virginia and Virginia was pretty much ground zero for the open carry movement.

    Ten years ago, if you were openly carrying a firearm, even though explicitly legal, you stood a good chance of being detained, your firearm being taken, and possibly even being charged with disorderly conduct…just like is happening in several other states today.

    Through the efforts of people standing up to the government, asserting their rights and suing for redress of violations of those rights, as well as continuing to fight in the legislature to reduce the unconstitutional infringements upon our natural rights, Open carry, although still not exactly commonplace, is now accepted as a perfectly legal, relatively normal thing. Rarely does a citizen get harassed and, when they are, it is generally quickly followed by a reprimand of the offending officer, a training regimen for the police department involved, and a monetary settlement.

    I carry openly on a regular basis and have been for about eight years or so. The difference in how I’m received today versus eight years ago is striking. People no longer assume that I’m either a cop or a bad guy…they correctly assume that I’m a normal person exercising my natural rights and am no threat to them.

    I’m sure there are some people who are taken aback by seeing it, but every time they see a law abiding citizen legally bearing an unconcealed firearm, and NOTHING BAD happens…they will relax about it ever more. They will begin to understand that they have nothing to fear and they will become comfortable with it.

    It doesn’t take half the society to make this happen. Only a small, dedicated minority. As it becomes more and more accepted, more and more poeple begin to exercise their rights and it becomes more and more commonplace.

    You can’t expect that just one day, everyone will start openly carrying firearms as a matter of course. It takes time sacrifice and effort to “win the hearts and minds” to get to that point.

    But when you do…it is not uncommon in this day and age to find me standing in a grocery store or restaurant having a discussion with another open carrier that happened to be there about holster selection or handgun preferences while the other patrons go about their business unconcerned.

    And it has opened the door for a discussion about gun rights with someone “on the fence” on more occasions than I can count. I’ve never had a bad experience with such a conversation and I believe that I’ve comported myself well enough in such discussions to help nudge many others toward support for the right to keep and bear arms.

    Whether to open carry or not is a personal decision that does involve some risk, and requires those who practice it to be responsible and cognizant of the fact tha they are representing all gun owners while doing so, not just themselves. I would never criticize anyone for choosing not to engage in the practice. But I would also urge others not to write it off either. As Virginia has aptly demonstrated, hearts and minds CAN be changed.

    Is a right that you are afraid to exercise really a right at all? If we allow “them” (whether “they” be criminals, the government or society in general) to intimidate us into refraining from exercising our rights, then how are we any different than the billions in the world who’s rights aren’t recognized at all? Such a situation basically means that we are willingly acquiescing to tyranny.

    Not on my watch.

  2. Sailorcurt, thanks for your comment. I would prefer a well-thought dissent in my comments than most other possible responses. You bring up some excellent points, and I would have to say good for Virgina!

    The people that I know that are against Open Carry are very responsible and respectable firearms instructors in my area. They are also from this area, and have never had any real experience with Open Carry to my knowledge.

    Whether or not I finally decide that I agree or disagree with the practice, I do not believe it should be illegal. Then again, there’s a bunch of stuff that I don’t think should be legislated like it is. After reading through your blog some, I would conclude that we could comfortably agree on that point.

    Anyway, thank you for coming by and sharing your thoughts! I’m very interested to see what happens to Open Carry in the state of Oklahoma. I’m pretty sure they will pass it. Then, I’ll have to decide whether it is an option for me.

    –Michael

  3. I don’t agree with open carry right now when the disadvantages outweigh the advantages, esp. here in my area of NY where the antis are in the majority and we all know THEY won’t be carrying alongside of us. The disadvantage would be the criminal could sneak up on one of us and take the gun and not enough people carrying to deter the criminals.

    I loved your comments about people who drive cars with automatic windshield wipers, heated seats, etc., not being qualified to carry a gun. So true. I have none of those things in my truck. In fact, I drive a 5-speed. I would qualify for carry in your world :)

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