Open Carry: Tactical or Strategic?

Like so many religious arguments (revolver vs. semi-auto, AR vs. AK vs. FAL) the concealed vs. open carry debate arouses strong feelings and passionate discourse all around. So I’m going to throw that hand grenade out and see who jumps on it. There are two different imperatives driving the decision of whether or not to open carry; tactical and strategic. Now, when I say tactical I’m not referring to bayonets or picatinny rails on your carry weapon but tactical in the sense of what’s going on when the SHTF. And from that kind of a tactical standpoint open carry is mostly a bad thing . . .

First, if BGs know that you’re carrying they can target you to get your gun, either violently or clandestinely (although I think it would be awfully hard to pickpocket a holster). Second, if BGs are planning or executing an armed robbery, carrying openly means that you lose the advantage of surprise. It marks you as someone to be watched closely or, possibly, shot first. On the other hand, open carry has also been known to deter armed robbers.

Open carry can also make you the target of ignorant or unreasonable cops. I was open carrying at a gem and lapidary show once and was accosted by a couple of Bloomington, Minnesota cops. They ran my permit and harassed me as much as they could, finishing up with one of them saying “You know if we get a robbery call to this location you’re the first person we’re going to shoot.” Interesting use of force guidelines in that department if they are going to shoot someone with a holstered weapon wearing a bright red shirt that says SECURITY in 2-inch high letters front and back. In fact I’ve had several of what a friend of mine referred to as moments of unusual interest in dealing with various police departments.

On the flip side, however . . . the wife and I were checking out a local restaurant we saw featured on a Food Network show. We got there about 10 minutes before they opened and there were already two Saint Paul PD cats out front who to have lunch (a total of 6 SPPD officers wound up having lunch there that day). As soon as we got inside I went and found the two officers who were already there, showed them my permit, explained that I was carrying and might remove my cover garment and didn’t want to surprise them.

They thanked me, and I figured that was that, but as the whole crowd of them was leaving one of them stopped by our table and thanked me again. He said “I know that guys like you will have my back if I ever get into trouble.” Well, okay, given the SPPD’s attitude towards carriers I probably would. Bloomington PD on the other hand . . . .

So while open carry is really not a good idea tactically, strategically it has some merits (and here is where I get into the most contentious debates with fellows gunnies). My belief is that the vast majority of non-carriers have no idea there are so many “regular people” out there carrying. All they hear about are guns being used in crimes and thug culture.

By open carrying, I am trying to give them a different image of gun owners so when the Brady Bunch talks about camo-clad, inbred, toothless gun owners they can say to themselves “No, the guy I saw carrying at the grocery store held the door for that man whose arms were full and got a box of crackers off the top shelf for the girl who was too short to reach. He smiled and thanked the cashier and wished her a nice day. In fact, he looked like any other middle-aged man in the neighborhood.”

Even the antis are starting to take notice (and take umbrage) of open carry. The National Gun Victims Action Council has a Fact Sheet:

Until recently, the sight of a person openly carrying a rifle slung on the shoulder or a handgun holstered on a belt was rare, yet it is legal to do so in 43 states.

While most Americans consider the open carrying of guns socially unacceptable, it is becoming more common. And it is intentional. A group of zealots around the country has started a movement (www.opencarry.org) whose goal is to normalize the carrying of loaded guns everywhere in public life.

Well actually guys, I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this but for almost 7 million permit holders in the U.S., the carrying of loaded guns everywhere is normal. And I would like to know what survey, poll or study showed that “most Americans consider the open carrying of guns socially unacceptable.” But the sad fact (for the antis, anyway) is that as more and more people start open carrying it will be more and more “normal” and fewer and fewer people will find it socially unacceptable. Remember, 50 years ago in many places around the country it was considered socially unacceptable (or just plain illegal) for blacks and whites to marry.

But the NGVAC goes on to explain:

Open carry proponents are becoming more emboldened by the media coverage their events generate, and the absence of any organized counter effort to remind Americans that the open carrying of firearms:

Creates deliberate confusion for the public and law enforcement as no one can be sure that the carrier is doing so legally, or is a criminal with violent intent

Oh, codswallop! Criminals don’t carry openly because they don’t want to stand out from the crowd. And even the pictures that the NGVAC show on their “fact sheet” undermine their argument. Seriously, would you be “confused” about whether this woman is a criminal with violent intent?

Or how about these guys:

Are you “confused” about whether they are carrying legally? What the antis really hate is that as more and more people start carrying openly, fewer and fewer people will panic at the sight.

NGVAC continues their diatribe when they say that open carry:

  • Threatens the safety of children and others from accidental shootings

How does open carry instead of concealed carry make negligent discharges (or accidental shootings as they call them) more likely? Of course, it doesn’t but groups like the NGVAC are opposed to carry in all its forms and want people to think that permit-holders are liable to shoot the wrong person in a DGU when, in fact, only about 2% of citizen shootings kill an innocent person which is one-fifth the number of innocent people killed by cops.

To be fair, this isn’t a particularly fair comparison, because cops usually come in the middle of a situation and so don’t know the players whereas “civilian” shooters have almost always been there from the beginning. NGVAC also says open carry:

  • Creates difficulties for police who are trained to assume that anyone armed is a potential threat

Well I guess with more than 2% of the U.S. population having permits to carry, departments had better quit training their officers that way! And as more people carry openly, more cops will be exposed to the fact that no, not everyone with a gun is a threat. This is not a bad thing. Just ask Chris Garaghty or Glenn Gentile.

  • Provides no protection to open carriers who primarily carry in safe, suburban and rural areas where the threat of violence is essentially zero

Go ahead, tell Dr. Petit that the threat of violence is essentially zero in suburban areas. Then tell it to the families of the 10 BTK victims from the suburbs of Wichita KS, or the 19-year-old raped in Herndon VA, or the 234 women raped between 1999 and 2005 in Brooklyn Park, MN or the . . . never mind. The fact is crime can happen anywhere even in nice “safe” suburban or rural areas.

  • Pits the rights of a paranoid minority against the safety of the majority of Americans who recognize that the risks of openly carried handguns far outweigh the potential benefits

You know, my rule of thumb is when your opponent has to stoop to name-calling and ad hominem attacks, it’s because they don’t have factual arguments left to offer. Anyway…paranoid minority: except, of course, open carriers aren’t usually paranoid. If they were paranoid they would carry concealed so that the people after them wouldn’t know they were armed. And again, I would love to see a source for NGVAC‘s bald statement that the risk to the public at large of open carry outweighs the benefits to both the carrier and the public. Of course they can’t name a source because the facts are not on their side.

Ultimately, the reason open carry twists the antis’ knickers so badly is simply because it is normalizing. Eight years ago when I first got my permit and started open carrying I had the cops called on me at least a half-dozen times in the first three years. But people are slowly getting used to the idea that an OFWG in the liquor store browsing the Scotch selection isn’t going to unleash a fusillade just because they are out of Dalmore Cigar Malt and the patrons at Old Country Buffet figured out that the guy sipping coffee while he and his wife peruse the paper isn’t going to knock the place over on his way out the door.

So guys, even if open carry spreads across the nation, the sky won’t fall. It’s going to be okay. Really.

avatar

About Bruce W. Krafft

I am a bit of a Johnny-come-lately to the civil rights (firearms flavor) movement, having not really gotten involved until after I hit 40. I am not really a "gun guy"; I can generally hit what I aim at, but I'm not a competitive shooter. I enjoy the craftsmanship of a fine pistol or rifle, but I am not particularly knowledgeable about firearms in general nor am I a Glock guy, or 1911 guy, I'm just a guy. What I am is passionate about civil rights, especially those of the firearm flavor.

63 Responses to Open Carry: Tactical or Strategic?

  1. avatarBrett says:

    I believe you have “strategic” and “tactical” switched in paragraph 6. Other than that, it was a great thought provoking article Bruce. Unfortunately, I’m in Texas so it’s concealed only for me.

  2. avatarRalph says:

    Nice, Bruce. Of course, it helps that the gunbrabbers’ arguments are like soap bubbles — look at them hard and they burst.

    If OC was legally permitted but socially unacceptible in MA, I would OC with the expectation that it would be accepted over time. Would it expose me to BGs? No, I don’t think so. BGs seek out soft targets, like sleeping homeowners or old ladies carrying their grocery bags. If BGs were targeting open-carriers, there wouldn’t be a cop alive today. I’d take my chances with a pistol on my hip. And another in my pocket.

    • avatarVincit Veritas says:

      Isn’t OC in MA currently not in plain violation of any specific law, but will always get you a “disturbing the peace” or some such violation? I may well be wrong, but I don’t recall any language in the LTC laws about concealed vs open. I’m sure Boston has their own ordinances too…

      Not that anyone wants to be the test bed for that anyway….I’d just be happy if they hand one unified state process, instead of “green, red and black towns”.

      • avatarRalph says:

        Correct, VV. There’s nothing in the statutes preventing OC, but those who have “flashed” can tell you what happens. Thye get their balls broken by the fuzz, but usually aren’t cited. Intentionally carrying openly has led to arrest and the confiscation of the offending firearm. And since the local chief LEO issues the permits, he’s the one guy a licensee should not embarrass. Thus, OC is not “legally permitted.”

        • avatarPascal says:

          That is lunacy! So, while not illegal, you cannot piss off the local PD by doing something that is “not illegal”. So, in effect, the police are making the law? I am surprised there has not been a test case.

        • avatarRalph says:

          You call it lunacy, I call it a total f^ckup of the lowest order, an abuse of discretion and an affront to law and justice. Potato, potahto.

        • avatarSeanC says:

          Isn’t that how it is everywhere? As a former resident of Crook County, IL and the uncle of a Chicago cop, I’ve been informed that if a police officer can’t come up with at least 3 reasons to roust you or anyone just walking down the street, then they don’t know their job. Obviously, they don’t do that all the time and not to every citizen, but if you’re open carying OC/stun gun/firearm, you’re going to get their attention, and 9/10 of police work is routine checks that don’t pan out. It’s their job to make sure it doesn’t pan out. I understand that and I also think some cops aren’t mentally prepared for that, and thats where the problems that we read about start.

  3. avatarCarlosT says:

    The only semi-plausible tactical argument against open carry I can credit is the “get shot first” argument and I haven’t seen a lot of evidence one way or the other. That’s the idea that someone serious about committing a crime would shoot the guy with the gun visible on his hip as soon as he saw him, maybe even before the open carrier got a chance to do anything. Like I said, I haven’t seen much evidence one way or the other on this argument.

    The social argument against open carry personally for me is having extra unnecessary conversation with strangers. I’m not particularly social, so even if they’re of the “nice gun” variety, I’d find them a hassle. I’d find them even more annoying if they were of the “OMG Y U haz a gun!!1!” variety, and even more annoying if they’re of the “Excuse me, sir, but we need to see some ID and we need to check your gun” type of conversation.

    • avatarAK says:

      Great points. Especially about the lack of ‘getthe shot first’ evidence.

      For those that do open carry, thank you. Every conversation and interaction is a chance to win over people on the fence.

      • avatarVincit Veritas says:

        I would also think the “get shot first” argument would become less applicable if there are multiple people carrying in any given establishment- which requires more and more people doing it…

    • avatarMatt in FL says:

      “The social argument against open carry personally for me is having extra unnecessary conversation with strangers. I’m not particularly social, so even if they’re of the “nice gun” variety, I’d find them a hassle.”

      This, so totally this. I’m very friendly to people I know, and I’m civil and polite to others when I interact with them, but I neither strike up nor desire uninvited conversation with strangers*. Some people talk to anyone next to them at the bar or in the elevator; that’s not me.

      *Except for pretty women. There’s always an exception for pretty women.

    • avatarRalph says:

      CarlosT, the opportunity to engage with people who might want to talk to me because I’m carrying would be a good thing from my point of view. Sure, I expect that some of them might want to criticize me, but others would be curious and would want the facts. I can do without the former and know how to dismiss them, but speaking with the latter would make it all worthwhile.

      • avatarCarlosT says:

        Ralph, that’s where you and I are different. I don’t relish speaking with curious strangers, or going out and being some kind of spokesman for the movement. I appreciate that you’d be willing to do that if the laws of your benighted state so permitted. Your contribution to our rights would be greater than mine.

        The thing is, I’m not carrying a gun as a political statement. I carry because someday someone might threaten my life or the life of someone I care about. That’s it. Otherwise, I’m not interested in drawing any attention to myself, negative or positive. I’m not interested in having random chats with people on the street about any topic whatsoever. I’m courteous to people in my daily interactions, I hold doors for people when there’s a bunch of us coming in or out of a building, that kind of thing, but generally speaking if I’m out and about I want to get from point A to point B and when I’m at point B I want to do what I’m doing without interference. If open carry ever became completely unremarkable, then I’d probably consider it. Until then, I’ll carry concealed.

        • avatarRalph says:

          Understood, and my comment was in no way meant to be disrespectful to you or anyone else who chooses to carry concealed. My position on this issue is mine alone.

          As a teacher by nature and an NRA/MA instructor by training, I do enjoy watching the scales drop from the eyes of those uninitiated in the ways and means of firearms.

  4. avatarTexanHawk says:

    I got pulled over for the first time while carrying last night/very early this morning.

    I’m currently travelling for the job in Colorado Springs, CO. A lapse of attention and a downhill run while coming home from the job and the red and blue lights of a Fountain, CO LEO had me doing 58 in a 45.

    I pulled safely off of the shoulder, placed the rental Jeep in park, turned on the interior lights and pulled out my DL and CHL and placed both hands on the top of the steering wheel. A young, maybe 30, LEO steps to exactly the right place and introduces himself and takes my docs. He doesn’t move nor visibly react but does ask “are you currently armed?” Yes. “Where is your weapon?” I almost jokingly said “which one?” but instead replied “inner left pocket of my jacket”. Again, no real reaction, but does excuse himself with my rental agreement and other docs back to his cruiser to run his checks. Since, I trust, I came up clean, he returns and lets me go with a verbal warning.

    Now, I wonder if my demeanor and behavior and the fact I was an armed law abiding citizen (forgetting the moving violation) had any effect on his decision to warn me instead of cite me. Either way, I was impressed with his professionalism.

    • avatarRalph says:

      Maybe he’d already filled his quota.

    • avatarMr. Lion says:

      Traffic stop with a permit generally boils down to the type of cop involved. For some, you’re an automatic good guy, having passed considerably more in the way of background check than they’re about to administer. Most cops of this type will give warnings, if that.

      For others, you’re immediately a terrorist extremist, and if you’re lucky you’ll get an hour long check to see if your papers are in order, what color your boxers are, and what you had for breakfast.

      Location has much to do with it, as does the time of day and the “offense” in question.

      • avatarRalph says:

        what color your boxers are, and what you had for breakfast

        Sometimes the first is wholly dependent on the second.

    • avatarJohn Clancy says:

      We have had shall issue in Colorado for 9 years now. The sky didn’t fall, no old west shootouts. For the most part the LEOs are use to it now. When stopped I always hand the my CCW with Driver’s License. We don’t have a duty to inform. If asked we have to inform. I think most people inform before they are asked. If I have and interaction with LEOs I always tell them I have a CCW. I never say “gun”. Most of the time they ask if you have “it” with you. Sometimes ask were it is. My wife and I were some of the first in the state to get ours. Over 9 years with the CCW and we have never had a problem with LEOs. Age my help as we both are almost sixty. As for open carry, we just don’t. I may be wrong but I think your just the first one shot.

    • avatarBuddhaKat says:

      Aw man, that sucks. Both times I’ve been pulled over for speeding while carrying I did exactly the same thing. I had my papers in hand, including my CCW, my hands on the wheel, and I declared my weapon as soon as he asked me to hand over my stuff. Both cops asked where the gun was. I told them I had no objection to their taking it if they wanted, both declined. They walked away, they walked back, I kept my hands visible, then they both had me sign the ticket.

      Now I want to emphasize, both were friendly, professional, and did exactly what they were supposed to do. I was guilty as hell in both circumstances, but it sure as heck would have been nice if I could have caught a break. The price I have to pay for a ticket is very high. Not from the court but from my wife. OUCH!

  5. avatarFred says:

    Ok, I’ll bite. As a suburban dad, heres my take:

    Tactically, I defer to the LEOs and military operators and security pro’s who have real world experience, but I’m going with “the gray man” sensibility. The LAST thing I want to do is give up the tactical advantage of surprise, by advertising I am armed. I also dont wear “shoot me first” vests, desert operator tan-hats with flags, cargo pants bulging with flashlights, multi-tools, pepperspray, or military boots, to the supermarket or post office, either. Open Carry is an invitation for any bad guy, mental case, or over-active-imagination-rent-a-cop targeting me – google the Las Vegas Costco shooting, or the Youtube of just how fast someone can take away a gun in a OWB paddle kydex retention holster, from behind.

    • avatarMichael B. says:

      You know, I read this a lot. But have you considered the possibility of a deterrent effect? As for your point about retention issus, there are holster and training solutions to effectively combat this.

      All it takes is a little research, folks.

      I’m not an open carrier nor do I wish to be one but I fully support the open carry movement.

      • avatarFred says:

        Yes, I have considered the deterrent effect – the risks outweigh the potential rewards.
        As a civilian, I dont get paid to go in harms way, so I dont need the deterrent, that a visible weapon serves a useful purpose for the cops, or a security guard, for example.

        For the unexpected, I try to further reduce the odds, by following the Rabbi’s advice on the three S’s- dont go to stupid places, with stupid people, doing stupid things.

        • avatarJohn Clancy says:

          I don’t want to have to go hand to had with a 20 year old. 40 years ago when I was in the Army no problem. And I also don’t wear any shoot me first gear. Listen to the Rabbi he know what his talking about. I’m to old to look for trouble.

    • avatarAK says:

      Please cite examples of open carriers being targeted by criminals. This unfounded fear is always brought up in this conversation, but hasn’t manifested.

      • avatarTom says:

        TTAG actually had a story on this a month ago when a guy at a gas station was open carrying and had his gun taken away from him by a BG. He actually was shot by the BG when he tried to get his gun back.

      • avatarFred says:

        Thanks for the reply- with respect- I am not making the case that open carriers ARE targeted by criminals, nor do I have stats- if you are appealing to those facts to support a position, I trust you can google them up one way or the other.

        I’m simply saying what I dont want to attract- the attention of a bad guy or anyone else. I relying on a lot of expert opinion out there, and common best practice by plainclothes LEOs and other security professionals, who apply same discretion in their low profile of CCW.

  6. avatarFred says:

    Strategically, pushing for open carry, right now, is a mistake, for two reasons:

    1. in a liberal state like CA, it hurts gun owners. Open Carry of an AR or 870 at the beach or farmers market or any other public protest is handing a victory to the MSM, that will result in exactly same as what the OFWGs in Starbucks got- only two tries by liberal lawmakers, in a democratic controlled legislature and liberal left executive here in CA, and it Open Carry was gone.

    2. it sets a bad precedent, nationally, and it distracts from what IS working- CCW outside the home, and rationalizing it across 50 states. We have nothing statistically similar to show for Open Carry, and lets face reality, brothers, while each state is different, the simple fact is Open Carry of an handgun scares most non-gun owners- and making a big deal about it only gives the MSM another way to distract from what is working- a wise, patient, building block by block foundational approach to good case law that creates the conditions for the solid Supreme Court win, on 2A outside the home.

    Talk is cheap- hit the Paypal at Calguns, SAF, CRPA and pay your NRA dues if you want to make a difference.

    • avatarMichael B. says:

      1. CA is beyond saving, so my suggestion to people who care about liberty there is to get out while the getting’s good. They’re politically suicidal in that state..which is a shame considering how beautiful it is.

      2. You can argue for both. Aside from your California example, where else has it negatively impacted our second amendment rights? And by the way, that isn’t the fault of the open carriers. It’s the fault of the stupid goons who elected politicians so obsessed with control that they’ll trample on all your rights. The “lawmakers” there probably didn’t even know it was legal until it came up in the news, otherwise they would’ve banned the practice sooner.

      If you live in a state where political change is essentially hopeless you should consider moving.

      3. You can do all this while still advocating for open carry. It’s foolish to think open carry is suddenly going to derail our USSC wins. I’ll tell you what will, though: re-electing a leftist anti-gun ideologue to top office where he has the power to replace aging conservative justices with his fellow travelers who take into account “international perspectives” when deciding on a case.

      • avatarFred says:

        Michael- thank you- with respect- we are on the same side, so I am NOT disagreeing with your principles- only appealing to the facts on the ground, ie: “what works”.

        1. You are wrong about whats happening in CA, but I notice its very common in gun forums for folks to dismiss CA out of hand, and miss whats going on, as its relatively new- if you go to Calguns, you will find some very smart legal minds who can better explain the careful and patient legal strategy that is winning a county-by-county effort to help Sheriffs apply Shall Issue policy with fair and reasonable standards and guidelines, and how pending 2A cases are building upon Heller, McDonald, and now Woolard in MD.
        Thats proof of what works, tactically, here in an influential state battlefield, that fits into a strategic approach, nationally.

        2. I cant argue your case on Open Carry- I’m just pointing out what DIDNT work here tactically –
        a. playing the MSM game for “Open Carry in Starbucks” PR was a fail. It scared people and quickly led to handgun rights being reduced in this democratic legislature, democratic executive dominated “game field”.

        There *might* be a lesson learned there, for the national game field- democrat dominated Senate, and democrat Executive.

        Money talks, you-know-what walks. Speaking of which- Robert, wheres your tip jar- good job giving Bruce this space for the conversation.

        • avatarMark N. says:

          As a California resident, I have to agree with Fred. This state is by no means “lost”; from what I can gather, Massachussets, Illinois and DC are far worse. Gains have been made here, and important cases are now pending before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that may have a huge impact on 2A litigation. Open carry was a huge FAIL because open carrying here, unlike Arizpna or Montana, is an inherently political statement. And it upsets the sheep,who complain to their legislators.
          I cannot see open carry in this state, apart from the fact that open carrying of (unloaded) handguns in urban areas is generally prohibited. After this stunning defeat, the Open Carry movement started talking about openly carrying their unlaoded long arms–which had the expected result; a bill is now pending to ban that as well. People here will be limited to carrying firearms openly solely for hunting and in parades. But on the other hand, the banniong of open carry is the very reason that shall issue concealed carry appears more and more likely–as long as the courts are will ing to recognize that the right to bear arms extends beyond the home and beyond some “special” need not suffered by the “general public.” And that is becoming more and more likely as the fedral district courts and some of the circuits are starting to weigh in.

    • avatarAK says:

      [open carry] “distracts from what IS working- CCW outside the home”

      If its working, why does it need attention? We need to restore all our freedoms, and if CCW is working we need to continue to expand our goals.

      • avatarFred says:

        Because its not done yet- its a marathon, not a sprint.

        • avatarAK says:

          And it’ll never be done. Just curious, are you a California resident? The impact of OC varies greatly depending on location.

          What doesn’t work in California (and indeed does require the small steps you describe) my work just fine and be more socially acceptable in other areas. Someone openly carrying in South Dakota doesn’t hurt the CCW movement in California.

          Some states are ready to push OC/Constitutional carry.

        • avatarFred says:

          AK, yes I am a CA resident, grew up in ND, and I do agree that open carry has its place, and can be advocated differently in different places, so dont mistake my opinion as dogmatic one size fits all.

          I do think we are on the right track, both here in CA and nationally, and even though its not a given by any means our 2A rights will be won, we are getting closer, and now is NOT the time for doom and gloom or naysaying. That only hurts all of us, gun-rights believers and those who respectfully disagree- as they are wrong, IMHO, and need our help understanding why- so withdrawing fails them as well. Press on!

  7. avatarZealot says:

    “A group of ZEALOTS around the country has started a movement whose goal is to normalize the carrying of loaded guns everywhere in public life.”

    They say “Zealot” like its a bad thing…

  8. avatarST says:

    An answer to this question is dependent on several factors which vary according to the respondent’s location and political climate therein.What is ‘correct’ for one category of citizen is not necessarily proper for another.

    For example:
    Business owners benefit by open carry considerably.Entrepreneurs and employees therein who interact with the public have no idea of the character of their customers. Most robberies accomplished by professional crooks aren’t done on spur of the moment;rather they do some pre-heist casing of the joint beforehand to note what kind of target they are up against. If every employee on every shift has a Beretta on their hip, such a crook may decide robbing the place isn’t worth the shootout it would provoke. This kind of deterrent effect cannot be measured on a massive scale as it is quite unlikely a crook will fill out a survey sheet detailing the reason for an aborted robbery. In the event of a spur of the moment robbery, there will not be time to waste drawing from concealment behind a desk or counter.

    As for business around and about town I would agree that concealed carry is a much better system to achieve. Not only does the risk of a panicky “man with a gun” call go down substantially, the deterrent effect is only temporary. A crook intent on robbing a gas station who sees an armed man will simply wait until said citizen walks out the door before pulling their caper. While the national attitude regarding firearms has improved substantially, we are a long way from open acceptance of armed citizens.

    Racial stereotypes also play a role in things. I do not wish to present the idea of playing any ‘race card’, but speaking as a biracial man who holds a CCW permit it is *VERY* unwise to walk into a gas station or other service business openly armed with dark complexion. Few Americans have not seen closed circuit camera images of black & latino scumbags walking into gas stations armed with criminal intent, and those are associations I would rather not ever draw.

    • avatarMichael B. says:

      You may be onto something with the last point. However, I have to say that in most of those videos that I’ve seen the perp is not a well-dressed, respectable looking citizen. They’re always shady looking people without a gun in an exposed hip holster.

      I imagine if you’re going to open carry that appearance is going to be a big part of people’s reactions to you.

  9. avatarJohn says:

    One thing I thought of when considering the positives and negatives of OC: could OCing in a threatening situation and not taking action lead to lots of blame thrown your way?

    I seem to recall a situation in which a man was CCing at a restaurant (I think) when an armed robber came in to rob the place. Because the robber had a long gun, the man CCing chose to duck and cover. No one was hurt, and ultimately even the police agreed with his decision to to intervene, but I think that things may have been different had he been OCing.

    I just imagine a situation like the above in which someone is OCing during an armed robbery and wants not to intervene but is called out by others for having a gun. Something along the lines of, “hey, you have a gun, stop this guy!,” which would ultimately either mark the carrier to the public as someone who failed to use their firearm, or to the robber as someone he decides to shoot where he may not have otherwise.

    I personally have nothing against OC–I’ve done it before myself–but this article got me thinking about potential “what ifs.” I could be totally off-base here, but thought I’d share my thoughts regardless.

    • avatarRalph says:

      the man CCing chose to duck and cover . . . . ultimately even the police agreed with his decision to to intervene, but I think that things may have been different had he been OCing.

      Not a chance. Every state that issues licenses goes out of its way to warn holders that they are not LEOs. Further, interfering would, in many states, expose the OCer to adverse legal consequences. The guiding rule remains: defend yourself, your family and your loved ones. Go futher and suffer whatever consequences may ensue. Whether the gun is inside or outside the waistband has no bearing.

  10. avatarTexas Colt carry says:

    Open vs Concealed. Hmmm

    I would have to say that it would be a 50-50 thing to consider, in other words, which way would you go depends or where your at, what your doing. Texas doesnt have open carry, yet. But the removal of the word ‘concealed’ has already passed the house and is expected to pass the senate next year with the goveners signature. That would give us the choice as a licensed weapons person. I support it, but would not openly carry all the time. Like I said, depending on the situation.

    I already carry at work, sometimes openly, sometimes. It just depends on whats going on. More comfortable open, but concealed around customers. Either way can have both an advantages and disadvantages, so weigh out whats the best advantage for you given the situation. If your to be open carry, be sure to dress, look and act more professional and polite than most to prevent that redneck projection. But not to look like a detective or something. Dress with respect and those observing you are far less likely to panic. People do prejudge you if the dont know you so a books cover helps a lot.

  11. avatarJason says:

    Very good description of the distinctions.

    But why choose? Some days you want to go about your business.. Some days you want to be an ambassador. I don’t feel it has to be all one or the other. You can advance the cause both tactically and strategically.

    However, since I don’t go stupid places with stupid people doing stupid things at stupid times, my chance of encountering a criminal I’ll need a tactical advantage against will be very low on any given day. My chance of encountering a soccer mom who moved to Arizona from California and isn’t all that familiar with Arizona’s gun culture is near 100%. So I’m probably more effective open carrying than concealed carrying.

  12. avatarGary says:

    Excellent posting. I have mixed feelings about this. I used to follow the opencarry.org forum for a while but there are a minority there that are out of touch with reality. I think there is a time and place for open carry and in a big city like Kansas City where I live , it does not always make sense to be openly armed in all places at all times. I think it can be rude and alarming in some circumstances and that’s what concealed carry is for. I DO want to be able to have that shotgun or SKS in hand while I walk the neighborhood to keep looters or rioters away when or if that time comes and I don’t want any LEO’s trying to disarm me.
    On the whole, I do support open carry and in most of Kansas, where I live, it’s legal. As for now, I rely on my CCW permit.
    Again, I like the post. One of these day’s I might well open carry too.

  13. avatarJames says:

    “How does open carry instead of concealed carry make negligent discharges (or accidental shootings as they call them) more likely? Of course, it doesn’t but groups like the NGVAC™ are opposed to carry in all its forms and want people to think that permit-holders are liable to shoot the wrong person in a DGU when, in fact, only about 2% of citizen shootings kill an innocent person which is one-fifth the number of innocent people killed by cops.

    That would be an interesting statistic to see: number of police (strictly State Troopers, County Sheriffs, and Local Yokels – not Alphabet Feds) VS number of CHL holders, and the negligent discharge, leaving weapons laying around bathrooms or other public places, bad shoots, etc.

    There are plenty of statistics available for revocation of CCW reasons. I’d be curious to see what it takes for a cop to lose his gun versus what it takes for a civvy to lose his.

  14. avatarJoseph says:

    First the excuse that it’s somehow socially unacceptable or inconvenient to carry openly. Screw that, the 1st amendment says that we all have the right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness, if says nothing about me subjugating my liberty and possibly pursuit of happiness to your complete lack of a right to feel comfortable at all times. This is the same as that horrible millstone we all wear around our necks these days known as “political correctness.” If you are afraid of my openly displayed weapon then screw you I am no more a threat to your safety and well-being than a police office or some other jack-booted representative of our rapidly coalescing police state.

    Ok two specific scenarios were presented in this article to highlight the perceived strategic and tactical disadvantages of carrying openly.

    Firstly it was suggested that you might be targeted for your weapon by a criminal who was looking to arm himself. I know a little something about criminals, at least as much as any other reasonably intelligent person who has had a plethora of violent encounters with a fundamentally opposite example of human behavior. This scenario posits you as what’s called a “target of opportunity.” Criminals do not go for targets of opportunity as it were who in any way represent a credible threat to them. Criminals target those who are weaker than themselves OR spend days or months planning in order to assault a target that represents a threat in such a way as to preemptively neutralize the threat to their physical safety and success.
    Now secondly a bank robbery was posited with the open carrier targeted in advance. Concealed carry isn’t going to help you in this scenario, the criminals have the initiative, they have a plan, and they have the motivation to carry it out quickly, yes first most likely targeting those best able to thwart their plan. If you are stupid enough to go all Die Hard on a group of criminals with potential victims and hostages all around you sure, go nuts, you are probably going to die. Concealed carry will not improve your odds against a coordinated assault like that. And in that situation compliance is the best option for survival. Sure your life will suck for a few minutes, maybe as much as a few days if it degenerates into a prolonged hostage situation, but you’ll most likely live through it…

    So yeah, there’s no argument against open carry, but really there’s only one argument in favor of it and that is of course deterrence. If you can’t see that I have a gun your potential attempt to rob/assault/murder me cannot be averted by the knowledge that I might kill you back. Sounds like a decent argument to me, especially when coupled with my second amendment right to “bear” arms, as in carry.

    • avatarCarlosT says:

      Actually, the First Amendment doesn’t say that. It says this:

      Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

      “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” is from the Declaration of Independence, which while inspiring, has no actual force of law. Life, liberty, or property come up in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, in the now outdated concept of due process, but the particular formulation that Jefferson used is pretty much unique to the Declaration.

  15. avatarMark Smith says:

    Other than the “I’m the boss of me, and just because I can, I will”, I see little evidence that would persuade me that open carry makes any sense.

    It is rare in any society that weapons were carried openly by the commoners. From warriors to knights to nobles to samurai – if someone had a weapon, those without treated those with quite differently.

    Now if *everyone* around me is armed? Open carry would be just fine.

    That’s the social aspect of it.

    From a tactical standpoint? I want to be non-threatening. I want to blend in. I don’t want a robber to notice me at all. I’d prefer the person threatening my life with deadly force not notice I have a gun until I’ve stopped the threat.

    Concealed carry makes it no harder to get to my gun than open carry after a negligible amount of practice.

    I don’t rely on a gun on my hip keeping bad guys away, I rely on my senses to tell me where threats are. If I come to depend on a visually obvious gun on my hip as a deterrent, I’m getting soft and sloppy.

    I’m also a firm believer in the aforementioned three S’s – dont go to stupid places, with stupid people, doing stupid things.

    I have no desire for confrontation or trouble and go out of my way to avoid both. Some here sound like they don’t care about doing either, so they haven’t had enough, or haven’t learned from what they have had.

  16. avatarDean Weingarten says:

    For those who mention California as a setback due to open carry, I see it as an overreach by the Democrat legislature. They now have effective no carry, and have set themselves up for a successful court challenge.

    On the other hand, open carry was wildly successful in Wisconsin, where it was used to leverage one of the best shall issue laws in the country.

    Open carry is just another tool in the tool box, moving us closer and closer to constitutional carry everywhere.

    Open carry is almost certain to pass in Oklahoma, Texas looks to be in play, as does Florida.

    We need to reduce those states that ban open carry from eight to five.

  17. avatarChas says:

    I admire those of you who carry openly. I can do so in my state, but I’m just not there yet. Maybe I will be one day.

    As for the photo of the lady in the grocery store, she gets a fail for the improper method of carrying a 1911.

  18. I love your sense of humor, Bruce: “Like so many religious arguments…”

    I would strongly advise you guys to forget about open carry. It’s for your own good. Almost all non gun folks and many gun folks think “fanatic” when they see you and that can’t help your cause.

    Am I wrong?

    • avatarChas says:

      More speculation, Mike? Please quantify your statement that “almost all non gun folks and many gun folks think ‘fanatic’ when they see you…”.

      Have you talked to all those “non gun folks and many gun folks”?

      I thought not.

      • Obviously I haven’t talked to ALL of them, nor did I claim that. But, as you might imagine I do talk to people whenever I can and this is what I’ve come up with.

        What do you think the non gun folks think? Don’t you think the Starbucks silliness is indicative of what I’m talking about?

        • avatarChas says:

          So sorry – I should have asked if you had talked to “almost all of the non gun folks”, since you claim to know what they think. When you’ve done that, get back to me.

  19. avatarJoe C. says:

    Why don’t the Mani/Pedi techs have guns? Everyone else got one.

  20. avatarHawke says:

    I think the key to this discussion is “Choice,” I want to have the choice. Situation will dictate, but currently I only have one option, I live in Texas.

  21. avatarRich7553 says:

    There’s one element that has not yet been discussed, that being from the perspective of the potential criminal. The vast majority of random crime is robbery, including armed robbery. In such scenarios, the criminal’s objective is to be threatening, be quick, encounter the least resistance, and make a getaway with something valuable.

    When one considers the types of potential victims, unarmed people comprise the vast majority (95% or more in many states) and the remainder armed. Of the armed group, the vast majority are concealed carriers, with a small percentage being open carriers where it is legal to do so.

    From the perspective of the robber, an unarmed citizen and a concealed carrier appear for the most part identical. There is nothing to distinguish the two, except perhaps to the most observant robber. And since it is generally unlawful to draw a firearm in self-defense unless the robber has already made his move, the so-called tactical advantage of surprise has limited value. On the other hand, a robber who sees an openly armed individual is much less likely to initiate action against that person since there are so many apparently unarmed potential victims available who would offer no resistance. Thus, the deterrent factor of open carry is inherent in that the potential criminal can easily choose a softer target, thereby increasing his chances of a successful robbery. Unfortunately, we can never know the deterrent effect of open carry simply because we cannot ascertain how many crimes do not occur because of it.

  22. avatarBubba says:

    Why would anyone voluntarily inform LE that they are armed, if there is no statutory duty to inform LE that you are armed. Mr. Krafft, went out of your way to prove that you are a law abiding citizen when LE has to prove that you are not.

    C’mon man, really!!

    The first to be educated is LE.

    Thanks, Mr. Krafft, for reenforcing a view generally held by LE that we citizens, exercising one of our unalienable rights, must be deferential to LE. To accommodate them, to make their job easier. With little of a burden placed on LE to only do their job within the confines for the law.

    Armed agents of the state must be deferential to the citizen and our unalienable rights…..first.

    • avatarBuddhaKat says:

      I don’t consider ‘armed agents of the state’ to be an adversary or an enemy. Cops want pretty much the same things as anyone else, a safe society. Every cop I’ve casually encountered while I was in public has been supportive of my open carrying and thanked me for doing it. All have said they wished more people would. All pointed out that crime rates drop where law abiding citizens are armed in public.

      I suppose they would take a different approach is they were responding to a call about someone with a gun, (me), in the Walmart, at least until they make contact and determine I’m not a bad guy.

  23. avatarSSG Miller, Michael says:

    Hello, I served 3 tours in Iraq, and Afghan. I fully support the right to carry. I open carry a Kimber 1911 Compcat CDP .45acp. I lost my right knee in my last tour, and i like to think that i lost it, by protecting our freedoms. Anyone that impedes on this freedom is a traitor.

  24. Have to jump in here. First in some areas police do no carry in CA and other states. The ones that do, do so openly. If it is a bad idea then why would cops allow open instead of under a coat?

    I am on the right top picture, yes the woman. I open carried as a matter of necessity. I had an attempted kidnapping on my daughter and I can tell you that concealed carry would do nothing to protect my family from the level of harassment we were under. While the police did some the local police did nothing for us except drive a couple of nuisances away.

    Smart bad guys for us did soon figure out that school sites and zones were off limits, thus became my new danger zone. Luckily I was also taking some pretty serious training above what most law enforcement would ever care to go for. We used a form of law enforcement to stop harassment that was threatening and I became well enough known for martial arts and guns that items stopped.

    I was never given a time that brandishing would be warranted during the time I open carried but it did stop people from approaching me and my children in harassing ways and eventually stopped people from approaching my home and children (yes they got training).

    Open Carry has a legitimate purpose for some and is most accessible and comfortable. There have been open carriers that stopped situations and made an arrest who are members of Nor Cal Open Carry and Contra Costa Open Carry in California. I still feel it is a right worth fighting for and getting back here. While permits and concealed is nice it is also not always available to out of state residents and people here for limited times (so should they be disarmed?)

    This is now in CA an attack on being able to transport sidearms without committing a crime. We are a nation where permits are needed for even basic self-defense items which is DANGEROUS. It is too easy to break a gun law and too hard to access a gun with a lock and key. When life preservation is essential and we have that period of duress or state-of-emergency, YOU will appreciated any un-permitted nature of self-defense.

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