Question of the Day: Open Carry, Yes or No?

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Open carry: yea or nay? Do you/would you do it? If you live in a state that forbids OC, would you accept an open carry law that allows you to openly carry an unloaded handgun as an “interim solution”? [Quick aside: I detest the inherently dishonest, entirely misleading "unidentified man on the street" sound bite technique.]

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About Robert Farago

Robert Farago is the Publisher of The Truth About Guns (TTAG). He started the site to explore the ethics, morality, business, politics, culture, technology, practice, strategy, dangers and fun of guns.

60 Responses to Question of the Day: Open Carry, Yes or No?

  1. avatarMoe says:

    I’d say, “That’s not good enough.”

    And what’s with the guy at :53 who is trying to puff his chest out over his beer belly with an empty gun (supposedly) at his side? Strutting around with an empty gun seems like a really bad idea.

    • avatarAnon says:

      In California, the only way to carry a gun without a nearly-impossible-to-get permit is unloaded and openly – ULOC, I think they call it. It isn’t ideal, but it beats a sharp stick…

      Oh, and yea.

  2. avatarA Critic says:

    Yes, I would open carry and try to do so whenever I’m in public.

    In my opinion it’s always important to remember why loaded open carry is prohibited in California: black men. There were black men with loaded guns in public – scary ones too, members of the Black Panthers. Not only did these scary black men have loaded guns – they had ASSAULT CLIPS! In CALIFORNIA!!! That was sufficiently scary to the California legislature for them to prohibit open carry of loaded guns, and eventually may have played a factor in their prohibition of magazines. It’s unfortunate for the banners that the open carry movement is now led by white men, if they were only black then I’m quite sure unloaded open carry would be prohibited in no time.

    • avatarTTACer says:

      +1

    • avatarJames says:

      Quite the contrary, I’d be willing to bet that open carry would get more traction these days if “the movement” were being spearheaded by those of a minority persuasion – homosexuals, blacks, women and the like.

      As it stands, open carry – and really any kind of carry, any kind of firearm ownership at all – is touted as an anti-social activity of the angry, disenfranchised, racist white man for the sole purpose of furthering his angry, disenfranchised, and racist ideals.

  3. avatarstateisevil says:

    Open carry is generally better than concealed carry, because most crimes are crimes of opportunity. Criminals want a soft target. Open carry, wherever it becomes popular and accepted, is a mortal wound to the gun control lobby.

  4. avatarMilliron says:

    I say YEA. Having to pay and license, to exercise a Right, hiding my gun so
    the sheep don’t get scared, kinda chaps my ass.

  5. avatarMagoo says:

    You can see that the camera crew chose to show only the obese, out-of-shape gun-toters. This is obvious media bias. They could have driven around for a few hours and found a thinner one if they wanted to, probably.

    • avatarPatrick B. says:

      c’mon, you can do better than that! I would think this is a target-rich topic for you, Magoo….

    • avatarMagoo says:

      I’ve already made my opinion clear and have no need to beat it to death. I don’t open carry and I don’t want open carry to become a practice in my community, even though it is entirely legal. Why would I? Just because I am a gun enthusiast? To me, you guys have brain lock. Just because you have the right to do something, or would like the right to do something, doesn’t make it a good idea. No offense, but the guys in the video above look like complete ass clowns to me — Wankomatic on autopilot with the lever broken off.

      • avatarJames says:

        Oddly enough, I tend to agree with Magoo. I think open carry is generally a bad idea. Not because of the “just because it’s legal doesn’t mean you should” argument (which I prefer to think of as a “nobody said I can’t, so why the hell shouldn’t I?” argument); but because it takes the guesswork out of figuring who’s armed and who isn’t.

        According to the Michigan State Police website, just for the month of March 2010, Macomb County alone saw almost 24,000 CPL permit applications – and only denied 375 of them. According to last year’s census, Macomb county has a population of roughly 830,000. Let’s assume for a minute that CPL permit applications have been consistent for a year – that would make 240,000 over the last year or so, give or take. That’s a solid quarter of the population!

        If I were a bad guy about to commit an assault or a robbery or a carjacking, I might think twice about it knowing that 1 out of every four potential victims might be the one that’s carrying a handgun.

        Open carry takes all the guesswork out of that. Those that are armed are easily identifiable. If open carry becomes a standard, concealed carry will decrease, and bad-guy’s odds of running into an armed target while plying his trade are significantly decreased, which will make bad-guy more brazen and daring.

        • avatarNT_ says:

          Well, dissenters like Magoo are a big part of the reason why I keep coming back to this site and reading the comments (since RF writes the vast majority of the posts, there’s no lack of consistency there, lol). I enjoy reading a civil discussion (even if sometimes heated & a bit rude/crude) of the various issues and don’t like the sites where everyone basically circles up around a cracker and “goes to work”.

          Back to the point: I really hesitate to open carry. In Georgia, open-carrying up at the gun shop, range or firearm-selling sporting goods store is one thing. You’re among people who are generally knowledgeable about current gun laws, more knowledgeable than the police in most cases.

          OTOH, you probably DON’T want to step inside a metro Atlanta convenience store at 10:30pm with an exposed handgun. If the clerk doesn’t draw on you, the police will probably be there to harass you shortly and (illegally) confiscate your weapon.

          So, context is important. I do sit around and imagine retiring to some small (mythical?) Wyoming town where a third of the population open-carries and knows all the police officers by name…

      • avatarBuuurr says:

        “Magoo says:
        April 23, 2011 at 12:38 PM
        I’ve already made my opinion clear and have no need to beat it to death. I don’t open carry and I don’t want open carry to become a practice in my community, even though it is entirely legal. Why would I? Just because I am a gun enthusiast? To me, you guys have brain lock. Just because you have the right to do something, or would like the right to do something, doesn’t make it a good idea. No offense, but the guys in the video above look like complete ass clowns to me — Wankomatic on autopilot with the lever broken off.”

        If your response is in part to me, Magoo; my comment was in regard to you jabbing at the yet unproven and logically disparate idea that everyone who owns a gun is a fat ass. It is a statement you have made in the past and you know my thoughts on that. Hence, “Your ignorance assures me, Magoo.”

  6. avatarDavid says:

    As my CC instructor said, if you open carry, then you might be the first target. A funny aside. The first open carry I saw in my area was an elderly gentleman being escorted into Walmart by his wife and using a walker. That is dedication.

  7. avatarBLAMMO says:

    Manduhtory open carry might not be an infringement of 2A/RKBA, but it is certainly a violation of the 4th Amendment: “It’s nobody’s shittin’ business what I keep in my home nor on my person.” I’m paraphrasing, of course.

  8. avatarKevin Lanier says:

    I beleave in open carry as an option. I don’t like the unloaded part. As my firearms instructor at the academy would yell during magazine changes “You got a rock…You got a rock…What are you going to do…throw it at him… LOAD THAT WEAPON!!!”

  9. avatarG.R. Mead says:

    It requires a change of perspective. Felons commit a crime by possession of firearms, so open carry in honorable manner in a legal regime where that is accepted and expected gets the cops away from focusing on the instrument and puts their attention back on the bad actors. {Hint: the guys with the readily seen guns are by definition unlikely to be among the bad guys.}

    It is hardly ever the weapon you see that you need to worry about. Concealed carry makes the weapon a thing of psychological deceit, which adversely effects the carrier and the critical observer (police) It places even the good guys in a psychological condition of “hiding something” and thus makes them LESS distinguishable from the bad actors. That leads to the police treating their likely allies as possible threats, which only makes their situation worse on both fronts.

    Promoting open carry is an adjunct to good policing, among other things.

  10. avatarSean Chen says:

    Yes. And we need to have the “Gun Free School Zones” limitation removed as it makes Open Carry a crime without anything more than being an arbitrary 1000′ from a school.

    Front there we need to move to Loaded Open Carry.

    I prefer concealed personally, but I believe it is up to the individual how they choose to exercise their 2A right.

    I do not believe that concealed carry is the only way to go. If a shirt or jacket is inadvertently lifted and the weapon exposed, legal Open Carry would keep the person from legal trouble for a harmless mistake.

    Some people, due to physical stature, or body type are unable to effectively conceal/hide an effective firearm (not a Seecamp/BUG).

  11. avatarTheDentalWarrior says:

    Would I carry openly? Generally, no. I personally prefer concealed. But, I would like the option of open carry in certain circumstances. I support the full expression of ALL our Constitutionally recognized rights, including the 2nd Amendment.

    What’s amazing to me is that we have to pass any legislation to affirm what has already been recognized and designated by the ultimate legislation: The Constitution of the United States. When I was in the Navy, we referred to the gov’t as “The Department of Redundancy Department.”

  12. avatarlongwatch says:

    I support both types of carry, and exercise both sometimes simultaneously. The tactical advantages/disadvantages of either mode can vary so I’m in favor of choice, and I live in Virginia where we can choose. We used to have a restaurant ban here in which concealed carry was banned but open carry was lawful. Because I didn’t wish to leave a firearm in my car I would OC as did many others. In the end, this caused a revitalization of the practice through the work of some activists and a few well publicized incidents.

  13. avatarEric says:

    Props for all you who open carry. I’m not a fan, and I carry concealed since the local PD isn’t the brightest box of crayons. I have enough holes in me, I don’t particularly want any more. Especially seeing/hearing that clip posted a while back from Philly.

  14. avatarProfessAndObey says:

    Yay when I Vacation to friendly states (eg. Arizona), but a big NAY here in my home state of The People’s Republic of California. There’s just too much risk of getting arrested while in full compliance with the law here.

  15. avatarglenn says:

    This is a tough one. I’m not sure how I feel about open carry versus concealed. Should it really matter? (open vs concealed). I think our society has become so sensative and brainwashed about guns in general, just the sight of a gun causes some people to soil themselves!
    150 or 200 years ago, people carried guns everywhere. Long guns, pistols, knives whatever! A gun used to be as much a practical tool as a shovel or hammer. A gun was also important before the advent of police departments. I would argue it’s still important for self protection.
    It’s not the gun that scares me, it’s the person carrying one, that I’m concerned about. I think our gun laws have become so overbearing, that the criminals have more gun freedom than the law abiding citizen. Criminals don’t obey gun laws.

  16. avatarWes says:

    Many CC’ers dismiss OC, and it sometimes/often seems like they couldn’t care less about OC rights. Maybe it’s a state thing, or maybe just a personal stomping grounds thing, since in areas with more “nature” someone’s little concealed pea-shooter isn’t the best tool for the job for what you might come across, and concealing a bigger tool isn’t practical.

    In other words, in an urban environment, I care more about concealed carry. In a more rural environment, I want to be able to carry what I want, how I want. Just seems like CC’ers throw OC’ers under the bus a bit sometimes because the only areas they frequent are ones with sidewalks.

  17. avatarRalph says:

    Give me the option of open or concealed and let me make my own decision based on time and place. WTF is wrong with that?

  18. avatarAnton says:

    Open carry is for morons. You make yourself a target, you’re easily disarmed, and you threaten all our rights with such stupid ideas.

  19. avatarJohn Fritz says:

    This might sound stupid to some of the more accomplished firearm aficionados posting here but I would not open carry because I am afraid of someone stealing my gun away from me. I am quite cognizant of my surroundings ordinarily but you can’t watch every thing every minute. It has nothing to do with me being a gun n00b or a pussy, believe me I am neither. But I worry about things. Maybe too much… who knows.

    I’ll keep my 75BD or 6906 under my shirt for now.

    As far as others doing it, I absolutely love to see regular people open carry. I admire the folks who are willing to do the right thing even when public opinion dictates otherwise.

  20. avatarJordan says:

    “Open carry is for morons. You make yourself a target, you’re easily disarmed, and you threaten all our rights with such stupid ideas.”

    Can you name a case in which an open carrier was disarmed?

  21. avatarJOE MATAFOME says:

    Yo Anton, most badguys are cowards and the last thing they want to do is confront someone with a gun. Now these same cowards would love a good lil sheep like you to rob because you’d be easy pickings. I support both types of carry, but I prefer concealed for myself.

  22. avatarChaz says:

    “You make yourself a target, you’re easily disarmed…”

    Being conspicuous due to OC seems problematic. A couple of hardened criminals, desirous of stealing your gun, probably could devise a way to jump you before you could draw.

    On the other hand if there were a good number of other OC folk always around (shades of the old west?) then the bad guys would be out numbered and would become the jump-ee instead of the jump-or.

  23. avatarJayson R says:

    Open carry with an unloaded weapon? Kinda screams “Rob me first”.

  24. avatarPaul R says:

    No. Open carry is a dumb idea unless you are trying to make a political statement; then, it’s a slightly less dumb idea.

    Look, we carry a gun to defend ourselves not to show off that we own a gun. Open carry puts the criminal on better footing because he knows that he can win a gun and can plan his attack accordingly.

    Open carry is okay only if everyone is doing it; that way you want draw the po-po every time you step out the door.

  25. avatarJavier E says:

    OC or CC I personally wish for just plain C the straight carry period and exclamation point.!

  26. avatarRalph says:

    I’m presently hangin’ out in Las Vegas where open carry is quite legal — and I haven’t seen anyone doing so. I don’t think I’d care to OC on the strip. If I was hiking somewhere, I certainly would. And with postgraduate degrees and thirty years of practicing law, I think I’m far from a moron. Or maybe I’m close to moron if Anton is also staying at the Rio.

  27. avatarAdam says:

    I live in Ohio and have my concealed carry. In ohio you can both open and if you have a permit you can concealed carry. I personally much more prefer OPEN carry only b/c it is so much easier to wear and open carry kydex holster than it is to use concealed carry holster. If you really had to use your weapon, even to just brandish it, it is far easier to bring out from an open holster than closed.

    The one big problem with open carry though is driving. The rules are ridiculous if you are carrying in a car. If its in a concealed position you are fine, if its not concealed you have to meet all kinds of requirements.

  28. avatarBuuurr says:

    Ohio as well. Conceal for me. Though I see enough Opens to think nothing of it.

  29. I see plain clothes detectives in Houston open carrying all the time and no one in a convenience store has panicked and drawn on the officers. I have friends in Redmond, WA that open all the time and no one draws down on them just because the carry.

    I carry concealed (I’m a Texas CHL holder) much of the time when I’m in the field on assignment. My clients have never noticed or if they have, they’ve never said a word about it. I’d much prefer to open carry when hiking in Texas since my photography backpack interferes with my concealed holster. This forces me to carry my firearm in my pack rather that at my side where it has the best chance of protecting me. Would I open carry when shopping at the mall? Probably not but I sure would like the right to make that decision for myself.

  30. avatarChris Dumm says:

    Open Carry? It’s not my cup of tea, although I sure as hell want it to be a legal option. It *can* help raise awareness and acceptance of gun ownership and self-defense, but it can also intimidate non-gunners and make them hostile to our position.

    it can also make you a target, both of bad guys and of misguided police action. I’m intimately aware of the legal risks of open carry even in states where it is legal, and I wish to avoid them.

    It should be each of our personal choices, however, and not the dictate of government. I respect those who responsibly carry openly, even though I choose not to.

  31. avatarMagoo says:

    glenn says: “150 or 200 years ago, people carried guns everywhere. Long guns, pistols, knives whatever!”

    Yes, and our forefathers did all they could to civilize and socialize their communities. Even the most dangerous locales in the Old West like El Paso and Tombstone had gun control laws to prohibit firearms within the town limits. When citizens no longer had to carry weapons wherever they went, they considered it a great thing and they were very proud of this accomplishment. It was regarded as progress.

    Gun loons want to return America to the 19th century, but it has nothing to do with community. It’s a transparently anti-social impulse, rooted in misanthropy and distrust of community and humanity at large. A favorite gun loon catchphrase: “Be polite and professional, but have a plan to kill everyone you meet.” It’s swaggering bullshit, of course, strictly range commando, but you don’t need a degree in psychology to figure it out.

    • avatarGerald says:

      “Be polite, professional, and friendly, but have a plan to kill everyone you meet.”

      That’s actually a United States Marine Corp Loon catchphrase.

      • avatarMagoo says:

        Sure, and in the USMC it might actually have some degree of sense. It has since been appropriated by gun loons to assist in their range commando role playing game.

        Do grown men really spend their entire day’s travels through the community mentally devising plans to kill every single human being they meet? Really? Really? If so, sell your guns and seek professional help. That’s screwed up.

        And if you’re not really doing this, accept that it’s just a catchphrase that helps you feel like a badass.

        • avatarA Critic says:

          Sure, and in the USMC it might actually have some degree of sense. It has since been appropriated by gun loons to assist in their range commando role playing game.

          Some of us “gun loons” were Marines before we were armed citizens. A good deal of what I learned in the Corps is applicable to regular life.

          Do grown men really spend their entire day’s travels through the community mentally devising plans to kill every single human being they meet? Really? Really? If so, sell your guns and seek professional help. That’s screwed up.

          Yes, and no. I don’t need help. Anyone who tries to rape, rob, or kill me needs help, most likely starting with an EMT and then a shrink or prison term.

    • avatarA Critic says:

      It’s a transparently anti-social impulse, rooted in misanthropy and distrust of community and humanity at large.

      I suppose rape is a social impulse, rooted in a love of mankind and a trust of community and humanity at large? Same goes for murder? I disagree.

    • avatarTony says:

      “Yes, and our forefathers did all they could to civilize and socialize their communities. Even the most dangerous locales in the Old West like El Paso and Tombstone had gun control laws to prohibit firearms within the town limits. When citizens no longer had to carry weapons wherever they went, they considered it a great thing and they were very proud of this accomplishment. It was regarded as progress. ”

      Of course most of those laws were put in place so the local sheriff could mistreat and bully the trail drivers with impunity. Everyone likes to point to Wyatt Earp as a great officer and he was one of the first to push for no guns in town. He was from the North and hated anything Southern. It was about his petty agenda not a more civilized society.

  32. avatarConfederalRepublicBy2030 says:

    Not even a question worth its own answer. There is no power delegated to government that would permit it at any juncture, in any manner whatsoever, to prohibit openly carried firearms. It should be that government does that which is specifically enumerated, and the people do that which is not explicitly forbidden (murder, theft, fraud), not the other way around.

  33. avatarotalps says:

    If you look at the sign at the .13 second mark you’ll notice a counter protester among the Brady’s. The sign says “The Brady Campaign, We Make Everyone a Target.” It was featured on a few newscasts here in LA.

  34. avatarMartin Albright says:

    NT said

    I do sit around and imagine retiring to some small (mythical?) Wyoming town where a third of the population open-carries and knows all the police officers by name…

    I lived in Wyoming for 5 years. Went to law school there and served in (and ultimately retired from) the Wyoming National Guard. In my time there I traveled all over the state and never – as in ever – saw a civilian openly carrying a handgun at any place other than a shooting range, gun shop or gun show.

    I think a lot of the myths about open carry come from people who live in non-OC states and who imagine the American west to be some kind of Heinleinian frontier where everybody straps a pistol on as part of their daily dress. Well, it’s not like that. Oh, you’ll see plenty of weapons – most of them rifles and shotguns hanging in the back of pickup truck windows. And certainly the ownership of pistols is nothing unusual, but carrying one openly in polite company (say to a nice restaurant in Cheyenne or Casper) would get you labled as an eccentric, at best, if not an outright kook.

    True story: I was shooting at the Laramie pistol range when an older gentleman with red hair and a beard came up to the same range and started setting up his gear, which included a very nice custom .45. We exchanged pleasantries and then went back to our shooting, but something was nagging at me – I knew I had seen him before but I couldn’t place him. As I was driving away later that day, it occurred to me why I didn’t recognize him: He wasn’t sitting behind his bench or wearing his black robe, as he was the District Court judge in front of whom I had represented an indigent client while working in the school’s Legal Services clinic.

  35. avatarMark says:

    Open carry in a world where guns weren’t the objects of fear and repression would be A-OK.

    But we don’t live in that world and it would be foolish to pretend we do. To everyone who isn’t a gun enthusiast – a very large percentage of the population around you – open carry looks like intimidation, if not passively threatening.

    Man is not an island. You are stuck with your neighbors. And most of them don’t (and won’t) be comfortable in the presence of an openly carried weapon unless you’re law enforcement (and they’re not always comfortable then, they’re just not going to say anything).

    If we lived in a world where the use of a gun was a regular and required thing for continued existence, I doubt anyone would bat an eye at open carry. But we don’t. Most of us will have the joy of never having to use a firearm in self-defense for our entire lives. Other places in the world, not so much. But here, yes.

    So if you’re openly carrying a gun when you most likely will never use it in an entire lifetime, the average person thinks either you’re really hoping to use it or you feel like you will have to use it. Perception and reality aren’t the same, but that’s what people will think, and they’ll treat you accordingly. All the legislation in the world isn’t going to change that.

    So until the zombie apocalypse comes, open carry is going to be the realm of people that the rest of the population is uncomfortable to downright hostile toward. If you don’t care about your fellow man, or humanity at large, go for it.

  36. avatarMr Bob says:

    I know I’m coming into this conversation over a year down the road.
    I live in a small town in rural Nevada where open carry is not only legal, but openly supported by our county sheriff. You won’t get a second glance from folks in Wal-Mart, the local grocery stores or convenience stores around here. In fact, I find that I get more smiles and even encouragement from non-carrying citizens when I open carry. I know that before I carried, I always felt safer when I saw someone carrying knowing that they were a deterrent to any criminal activity.

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