Question of the Day: Does Open Carry Depend on Racial Profiling?

For the last year or so, my FFL guy’s been open carrying. Steve’s a soft-spoken fifty-something who clocks in at 5’9″, 155 pounds. No one has EVER asked him about his heater—despite the fact that my gun range BFF lives and works in RI. By the same token, I’m hardly surprised that a comely clean-cut chick packing a Glock in an [apparently] suburban Stop ‘N Rob doesn’t inspire a panicked public. But what if a twenty-something African American male decided to open carry in the same store? Or a swarthy man wearing wearing a shemagh? Does the ability to “open carry” end where prejudice begins? [NOTE: I will allow discussions of racial and religious politics in this thread and treat them with more-than-usual latitude. However, overtly racist remarks will be removed without notice.]

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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.

86 Responses to Question of the Day: Does Open Carry Depend on Racial Profiling?

  1. avatarDirk Diggler says:

    as a Black male, I have open carried in some places (ie, ultra liberal Ann Arbor, MI), but people assumed I was an off duty police officer. It may have been the .357 mag in a police holster or the fact that I didn’t have baggy pants.

    • avatarNot Too Eloquent says:

      Exactly Dirk, I view anybody dressing/acting the bada$$ role with more suspicion than people dressing/acting in a more neutral fashion, regardless of race. Last guy that got the hairs on the back of my neck moving was a white dude at the local kids fun station wearing a full length trench coat in 95 degree heat. Got my kids and girl out of there within a couple of minutes and never took my Glock-armed eyes off him. Fortunately, didn’t hear about any shootings later.

      • avatarJoshua says:

        +1

        I’m just as likely to profile Eminem as I am any other person who appears like a hoodlum. Yes, based on appearance and behavior. Is it prejudiced. Yes I pre-judge the situation based on my life experiences. I grew up around a lot of Eminem wannabes.

  2. avatarmtyd05 says:

    Would it even be possible/practical for a person to open carry in a hijab?

    • avatarAlphaGeek says:

      Possible? Sure, put on a gunslinger/competition belt over the garment.

      As a practical matter, though, you have a good point. The whole reason behind the structure of the hijab is to obscure the outlines of the body underneath. Putting on a midriff belt of any sort would significantly reduce the garment’s effectiveness at obscuring body features.

      Heh. When open carrying in hijab, GUN causes YOU to print!

  3. avatarDaniel says:

    I think what matters here is perception. I open carry ALL THE TIME. No one says anything. Management at the places I go to have never stopped me and said “Really? A gun?”
    That’s because I look legit. I keep myself well-groomed. I wear plaid, polo, or dress shirts. I don’t wear hoodies. I don’t have my lips or nose pierced. I don’t have a bony, heroin addict face. I smile. I keep my eyebrows arched up in friendly humility. I exude “nice guy.”

    If there is a perception in a community that minorities are responsible for all the trouble, then you may face discrimination in that capacity, sure- however unwarranted. But it depends on a lot of things. Race can be one of them, given the local atmosphere. But this feeling of apprehension toward open carrying applies to ANYONE who falls into the community’s profile of “suspicious-looking”.

  4. avatarDirk Diggler says:

    FOR THE WIN!!!

  5. avatarMichael B. says:

    No. It’s about appearance and behavior. If a black kid in a dark hoodie with the hood up comes strolling into a store with a gat tucked Mexican-style into the front of his jeans people would rightly be concerned. But if a well-dressed black guy came in with his sidearm properly holstered then I doubt most people would care (aside from hoplophobic ninnies and allegedly pro-2A fellow travelers)..

    The thing is most people interested in open carry are not thug criminals so that’s not even a real concern. Gangstas typically carry concealed illegally no matter what.

  6. avatarmtyd05 says:

    or not that stuff is confusing

  7. avatarMr. Grimm says:

    I think that open carry is more easily accepted than concealed simply because people see a holster and don’t associate that with criminal activity. John Q. Public will usually associate a gun stuck in your waist band without a holster as a negative or potentially criminal behavior.

  8. avatarAnon in CT says:

    In most places, if you are dressed business or business casual (khakis and a collared shirt), folks are just going to assume you are a cop or other LEO. I think this would apply to folks of all races.

    • avatarAlphaGeek says:

      I agree that this is the case, but only if you:
      * are within a certain age range
      * don’t have visible tattoos or piercings which conflict with the LEO image
      * are reasonably fit (by lax American standards)
      * present body language within the range expected from LEOs

      A slouching, scowling, slang-slinging 22-year-old guy (of any ethnicity) with neck tattoos and a pierced septum isn’t going to pass even if you dress him in freshly pressed khakis, a button-down shirt, and casual dress shoes.

    • avatarPascal says:

      Just for fun, pick up a CCDL T-shirt and walk around with that and then tell me how many times you get stopped. Do it without even having a gun on you, let me know how many times you get stopped in CT. Every once and a while I will wear it to see how many times I get stopped. I had the Shelton PD come visit me in the cereal isle of Stop & Shop just for wearing the T-shirt, good luck in CT. Hell, Hoffmans will not even allow you to carry. There is a whole Blue State vs Red State thing that also must be considered.

      • avatarMilsurp Collector says:

        I have relatives in CT and I see the exact same “Red vs Blue” conflict of opinions all the time. I refer to it as Massachusetts with the reins pulled back tight. Ironic since it is, after all, the Constitution state.

      • avatarFoster says:

        Please clarify, what is CCDL? Thanks.

        • avatarPascal says:

          http://www.ccdl.us/

          “The Connecticut Citizens Defense League is a non-partisan, grassroots organization devoted to advocating rights affirmed by the Constitutions of the United States of America and the State of Connecticut. We are especially dedicated to protecting the unalienable right of all citizens to keep and bear arms, for the defense of both self and state, through public enlightenment and legislative action.

          We welcome anyone who believes that the defense of our constitutional rights is critical to the longevity of our freedom and to the success of this nation, and in particular that the rights to self defense and to keep and bear the arms to actualize that defense, are fundamental and undeniable.”

          They keep tabs on gun rights with CT and have been very successful. Members, including myself, hold an annual rally every year where we open carry right on the capital steps in Hartford – open carry is not illegal in CT but if someone calls the cops, they will respond, question and otherwise stop you and depending on the town, either arrest you or ask you to conceal carry vs open carry.

          Wearing a CCDL shirt which has the CT Constitution Article 1 which give us the right to bear arms in CT is enough to drive many an anti-gun person over the cliff and you will be stopped, yelled at, or asked to leave even if you are not carrying. It does not stop me from wearing the shirt, but people sometimes call and say you have a gun and the police have fun when they show up and see the shirt and I have no gun and cannot say anything.

  9. avatarjwm says:

    Most criminal types, regardless of race, carry concealed because for them to be caught with a gun is serious jail time. people doing open carry are going to be law abiding types.

    Personally I would like to see young black men open carry. If for no other reason than it would cause them to have to wear a belt and pull their pants up. When, oh when, will this fashion trend end?

  10. avatarbpjester says:

    The rule should be, “if you look like a dirt bag, treat accordingly.” Race or ethnic group shouldn’t matter concerning open carry. Here in Arizona I have seen some sketchy white dudes that warranted a second look.

    • avatarSteve in MA says:

      the definition of dirt bag is changing though. I’m 20, when I see a guy with a ton of piercings and tattoos, i’ll wonder why he got them, and then be on my way. My dad, on the other hand, thinks the guy is a freak and would freeze up if he had to speak to him. I think that’s how the generational shift is moving. a lot of the stuff that you might think makes someone a dirtbag is stuff that people below the age of 30 grew up with seeing everyday

      • avatarAlphaGeek says:

        Agreed, but there’s a big difference between $650 art-grade tattoos vs. blue ink on your neck and hands.

      • avatarbpjester says:

        Even the twenty somethings can spot the differences between a dirt bag and a person who is into the alternative lifestyle. It is the totality of circumstances that make a person’s spidey sense twitch.

  11. avatarBill says:

    I would like to extend the example of Mr. Colion Noir of youtube fame as someone who is not caucasian whom I think is a fine figure of proper firearms use and methodology. Proper appearance and perception can transcend racial stereotypes and weariness of minorities carrying (even open carry in certain states).

  12. avatarAlphaGeek says:

    In the young lady’s case, the hardware would not have been the first thing I noticed had she not had been using neon-pink carrying equipment. Ahem.

    More on topic, the extent to which someone presents as a threat is directly correlated with how people will react to their open carry. People who are easily pattern-matched against the mental database of non-threat profiles, through appearance or conduct, are much less likely to cause concern. A pretty girl who’s smiling and presenting a pleasant demeanor while carrying in a neon-pink holster is going to score pretty low on the threat meter.

    This all assumes that you’re not in an area where the citizens have been conditioned to think that any gun not accompanied by a uniform represents an impending terrorist attack. It’s possible to blur the lines some if your personal characteristics, dress and conduct enable you to exploit this cognitive effect (as Daniel states above) but sometimes you’re just in hostile territory and open carry is impossible.

    • avatarWyatt says:

      Beat me to it re:threats, and said it better. Bummer.

      Also, dat ass.

      • avatarAlphaGeek says:

        Thanks.

        I wrote with the assumption that Erika would be reading the comments on this thread, and wanted to keep it complimentary rather than creepy. (But yes, what you said.)

    • avatarsanchanim says:

      Well you know young ladies always need to be in fashion lol
      Lord knows my wife would have purple or pink everything!

  13. avatartdiinva says:

    I second the “how you look and act” meme. I have talked with LEOs about open carrying and they have all told me that I look like an upstanding citizen and they wouldn’t look twice. I also know this black guy who open carries all the time and has never been hassled in rural Virginia where the “racist” rednecks live. Despite the claims of the PC set we, for the most part, have moved beyond race. Everybody profiles and if you don’t look like a thug people won’t treat you like one irrespective to race, religion, creed, nationality, and in today’s world, sexual orientation.

    • avatarRopingdown says:

      tdiinva, couldn’t agree with you more: Many people, me included, have never accepted the notion that all cultures or behavioral indicia are equal. Call it bias, but I have never in my life felt uncomfortable around people of any race or culture who were obviously well-groomed and dressed in clean and standard clothing, bearing themselves with a modicum of dignity. People who, regardless of ethnicity or culture, appear slovenly, uptight or nervous, or eager to send an aggressive message with their clothing and deportment, simply do set off a silent alarm for me. Perhaps I am a cultural bigot but a race-neutral diversiphile?

  14. avatarstifledbf3 says:

    Criminals do not openly carry weapons.

    I win!

  15. avatarWyatt says:

    I’ll make own wild ass guess: It’s a combination of appearance, body language, stature that gets unconsciously turned into “threat” or “not threat”. That can aggravate or perhaps offset however the observer feels about guns.

    If this observer unconsciously associates skin color as being “them” and not “us” to a big degree, sure, maybe a black guy carrying would make them uncomfortable. It might go the other way if I walked around with my retention holster on my leg as the only white guy around.

    I’m going to also add that “race” is some bullshit that I think gets used interchangeably with culture and “class”. Skin color unfortunately ends up being how many of us identify those, or is guilty by association with various poor examples of human beings (and stereotypes) we encounter.

  16. avatarsanchanim says:

    I would think the following would be true. Please note I am comparing stereo types here, and in no way is it meant to represent my feelings on how people dress, or their religious or ethnic orientation or belief’s.

    If we take your typical African American who is fitting a stereo type, baggy pants down to his knees, and hoody. Open carry is not an option really. His clothes are not able to properly secure a holster in order to open carry. If this person tucks the weapon of choice into his waist band then it isn’t a legal form of open carry.

    So in this instance for an African male or Hispanic male for that matter to open carry, they would need to grab a belt and pull those pants up! From a stereo type perspective this immediately breaks the idea that he is a thug or some sort of gangster type. I am speaking strictly from the visual perspective and how other might perceive that person, not knowing anything about them.

    With regard to Hijab. These are generally head scarfs only, and would not impede proper open carry. A Burka on the other hand would as it is designed to cover the entire body of the female. Now as far as perception is concerned, this is a different issue. To be honest if you have an individual dressed in a Hajib, or let’s say traditional Sikh dress, but properly carrying open carry, I don’t think I personally would be concerned. I am not sure how LEO or other individuals would react.

    It would be an interesting test to see how the public reacts to such situations. I agree there are probably folks out there who would react badly and speed dial 911. Then again depending on the state you might be surprised.

  17. avatarJoshinGA says:

    People have been conditioned to think open holster=LEO, so if a well groomed, appropriately dressed (properly fitting clothing) man or woman open carries, most of the population just writes it off as normal. I agree with others here that rather than race, the overall “is this person sketchy or not” is the question most people would ask themselves. Behavior, appearance, and actions go into determining whether or not to be skeeved out by an open carry-er.

    • avatarWyatt says:

      Agreed, unless they’re scared of guns.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWOTxvJibhM

      I wonder how often that actually happens.

      • avatarJoshinGA says:

        Best part of that video? The ladies insistence that the guy had a “magnum” gun in his belt. Hahaha. Well, those ninnies in CA have lost their right to open carry now, so no more funny 911 calls.

      • avatarMichael B. says:

        This is the kind of sadistic soul who would inform on a neighbor, friend, or family member in a totalitarian state for breaking some piddling rule.

        In a sane world the operator would’ve asked: “Is he pointing it at anyone or taking it out of the holster?”

        “No.”

        “Then mind your own business and don’t call back unless he does. Good day.”

        • avatarJoshinGA says:

          The 911 operator did better than (I imagine) most would. She knew the law, and told the woman that the man was allowed to have the gun on his belt (and pepper spray).

        • avatarMichael B. says:

          She did, Josh. I won’t argue that.

          Now that I think about it, isn’t a common refrain of so-called pro-2A people against open carry that open carriers waste LEOs’ time?

          Seems to me the idiot who doesn’t know the law and calls the cops in the first place is the one wasting everyone’s time.

  18. avatarRob G says:

    As others have said, how we dress and speak when we open carry mean infinitely more than our color, sex or religion.

  19. avatarspeedracer5050 says:

    First off let me say that I am a 50 yr old white male, both arms heavily tattooed, 15 yr Army vet, make about $34000 a year and usually wear tshirts and jeans.
    I also have a valid cc license and have had one for years in both Ar and Texas.
    That being said the stereotyping really doesn’t end or begin with race or ethnic background so much as what the person who is presently looking at you perceives you to be based upon what they believe in their mind to be a proper upstanding citizen.
    I have had people of all ages and backgrounds both demonize me because of my appearence and the fact that I am ” too old” to be lookin like a thug!!!(??)!!
    But I have also had people treat me like a normal human being when they actuall take the time to ask a question and speak to me about most anything.
    An example for preconceived notions is while recently in a local gunshop a gentleman was asking the salesman about a compact 1911 in the case. The salesman who knows me pretty well said that he didn’t personally own one but that I did and pointed to me. The customer stepped back and looked at me in a decidedly leery manner and said ” you own a gun? And carry it??” I told him politely that yes I do and that I had owned the same model he was looking at for over a year and was very pleased with it, plus the fact that I had tuned the gun to suit my ambi shooting style fairly easily and proceeded to explain how.
    He looked at me and said” Well people like you shouldn’t be allowed to own a gun” and when the salesman told him I was a 15 yr military vet with combat tours he just turned around and walked out!
    We both had a good laugh over it but has been the occasion more than once. I usually just chalk it up to poor education and a lack of being able to see beyond the end of their nose so to speak.

    • avatarg says:

      Wow, that guy at the store sounds like a serious jerk…

      • avatarspeedracer5050 says:

        LoL!! Yea he was. Have seen him a couple of times around town lately an he will actually go out of his way to avoid walking by or near me.
        Told my better half why and she laughed and said maybe he should pull his head from his a$$ and see things like they really are.
        Told her it probably wasn’t possible since it appeared he had it permanently glued into place!!! ;)

    • avatarsanchanim says:

      Well speedracer, that is one odd confrontation I would say. I have tattoos and you can’t see them if I have a shirt on, but that being said it doesn’t make me think someone is a thug.
      Then again maybe it is because I have tattoos and know folks who have lots of them that I don’t consider it a bad thing or a marker that you are a threat.
      I would say that overall appearance might draw my attention to someone, but there behavior is what will keep me focused on them.
      I have to admit that is a funny story in a sad sort of way. To be honest if someone reacted that way, I don’t know if I would even want to sell them a gun to begin with.
      First off the store person knew you. they knew your history with a specific firearm which means you are not really a threat. Obviously you are knowledgeable about the specific firearm in spoke with an above first grade intelligence about it.
      Even after this the person felt you shouldn’t be able to own a gun! What a maroon..
      This would be the kind of guy who would open fire on four guys walking down the street who just didn’t look right and felt threatened. That is really the guy who should never own a gun.

      • avatarspeedracer5050 says:

        Well here in Ar we don’t have open carry except for one town that allows it only within city limits. Really kind of iffy on open carry anyways. But then again I miss the days of being able to sit on the corner with the older gents in town an watch and listen to them trade rifles, pistols and pocket knives without ever being bothered.
        One thing about back then too was the fact that the local LEO’s knew pretty well everyone in town and knew who the troublemakers were.
        Even as a 15 and 16 yr old teenager I could park, get whatever .22 or shotgun I had to trade out and sit with the rest of the daily traders and never get bothered, a couple of the local deputies would even sit and do a little trading themselves.
        Really miss those days!!!

  20. avatarMr. Obvious says:

    I equate open carry with people who go outside in really skimpy, revealing clothing or wearing outfits with inflammatory messages. It’s certainly your right, but don’t get indignant when people point, stare, try to touch you, etc. Unless you’re in a state where open carry is legal and CCW is heavily regulated, you’re probably doing it for attention / to prod a confrontation / etc. Again, nothing’s wrong with that but I do think that patrolling around with a gun in a pink holster is begging for attention at best and serious trouble at worst.

    • avatarRob G says:

      I’ve seen a couple of people like that on Youtube, but never in person.

      I open carry and I certainly don’t dress like that, but I also don’t project my fashion tastes onto other people. I figure it’s none of my business.

  21. avatarRalph says:

    The bottom line should be behavior. When a black dude with his Glock in his holster walks into a 7-11, that’s okay. When a white dude walks into the same store with his Glock in his hand, big trouble.

  22. avatarRooster says:

    I do not think the social acceptability of open carry depends as much on the carrier as it does on the surrounding community. Here in Atlanta, we have all sorts of folks carrying openly, and, honestly, very few people ever get upset. I personally know a couple of black guys who open carry all the time and do not get hassled.

    However, you can be as clean cut and khaki’d-out as you want in some less gun-friendly states and you’ll still draw heaps of unwanted attention.

    I can’t really comment on the hijab/ keffiyeh portion of this, because I just don’t have the empirical data (we don’t see many of those in GA!) to form a considered opinion.

    • avatarsanchanim says:

      While living in Israel we had lots of interaction with folks in more traditional clothing. Obviously dress has little to do with our reaction. Behavior was key. It is amazing how good we got at pin pointing problem people, just by their behavior.

  23. avatarDrama says:

    I was at an outdoor mall I last summer(oh love the suburbs), sitting there when I saw a black man, lower middle ageish, walk into a jewelry store open carrying.

    I didn’t think it was all to weird because he was dressed in tactical type pants had a tshirt tucked in and a ballcap on. Pretty much looked like an off-duty cop, I didn’t get up and run away or look for the nearest rent-a-cop but I also didn’t just let it fade out of memory until I saw him come out some minutes later.

    • avatarMichael B. says:

      Honestly, the only thing I’ve thought when I’ve seen a few people open carry around here (under the strict exceptions to the ban) is: “Cool. What make and model is that?”

      Even if I wasn’t interested in guns I’d probably not give a damn.

      The man with the holstered gun is not a threat because he’s being unabashedly honest about being armed.There’s no deception involved just by the very nature of him open carrying.

      It’s funny, in my limited research on the attitudes toward OC it seems that this view was the predominant one up until the later decades of the 20th century.

      Has no one ever stopped and asked themselves why OC requires no permit at all in some states but concealed carry does and, before the LTC reforms, was banned or heavily restricted in most states?

      Society thought (wrongly, IMO) that concealed carry was primarily something dishonest men did. After all, what were they trying to hide it for?

      Now the attitudes toward OC and CC seem to have done a complete 180. Or am I mistaken in thinking that because anti-OC “2A supporters” are often loud and proud and possibly over represented?

  24. avatarbontai Joe says:

    I live in a rural corner of northeast PA, but within less than 30 minutes of two urban areas. In the 25 years I’ve been in PA, I don’t think I have seen a single person open carry a firearm. I have seen several concealed carry folks that accidently showed their gun either by printing thru their clothes or having a jacket fall open. I already mentally profile people just about any public place I go. We have meth labs in the area, and all the “joy” that comes with them. So anytime I see someone that is 20% under their ideal body weight and hasn’t bathed in the past few days, my spidey-sense starts to tingle. That is the most common type of “obvious” potential bad guy/girl, I’m seeing in my neck of the woods, and they come in all colors.

  25. avatarChaz says:

    Once while walking on a popular trail I noticed an intimidating man approaching, wearing work clothes, striding purposefully, with a serious countenance and open carrying a pistol. That was alarming until I saw a badge on his belt. Presumably this was a plainclothes LEO.

  26. avatarBen says:

    +1 I love his videos and admire him (as a fellow young person) as a responsible young gun owner who projects a great image, as well as having awesome gun reviews and the like.

    Edit: This was supposed to be in reply to the above comment about Mr. Colion Noir. What’s going on with comments?

  27. avatarRokurota says:

    No one here’s addressed the possibility of a young Muslim man with a long beard and wearing a taqiyah open carrying — let’s say in your city in the general vicinity of a federal building. THAT would get a lot of people calling 911.

  28. avatarإبليس says:

    I’ve never seen anyone open carry that wasn’t a cop or behind the counter at a gun store.

  29. avatarDon says:

    I find it fascinating on how views of open carry have changed over the years. Well, not that they have changed but the contexts which makes one view reasonable at one time and then unreasonable in another. Weapons restrictions views on open carry have always been racially biased, or more encompassingly, biased by “othernes”. For example, many of us today lament the gun restrictions of California. The modern era of these restrictions began in 1967 with the Mulford Act by conservative republican assemblyman Don Mulford and signed into law by then governor Ronald Reagan. WOAH, What? Why?! Because the Black Panthers were very serious about 2A and open carry activism. Ah but the Panthers we’re about all kinds of other issues too! I guess in the minds of the politicians and the public at the time you weren’t allowed to express your 2A rights if first you expressed your 1A, at least if you were an “other”.

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mulford_Act

    “We’re going to the Capitol. Mulford’s there, and they’re trying to pass a law against our guns, and we’re going to the Capitol steps. We’re going to take the best Panthers we got and we’re going to the Capitol steps with our guns and forces, loaded down to the gills. And we’re going to read a message to the world, because the press is always up there. They’ll listen to the message, and they’ll probably blast it all across this country. I know, I know they’ll blast it all the way across California. We’ve got to get a message over to the people.”

    said Huey in 1967. And he did. The nation’s first open carry demonstration in modern history.

    http://xroads.virginia.edu/~UG01/barillari/pantherintro.html
    http://www.pbs.org/hueypnewton/actions/actions_capitolmarch.html

    Now I’m the first to point out that context matters (contrary to absolutist or literalist philosophical views). The Panthers had a lot of politically extreme, severely impractical, sophomoric, and utterly delusional views about the world and the way it works… but to me, so do a lot of 20something open carry activists today. This is of course open to debate, but to me debating on the merit of a socialist society or an anarchist society vs whatever america is right now is like deciding if I want to stick my head in boiling water or liquid nitrogen instead of… well, neither… I’m fine thank you. A little warm, a little cool at times, but fine thank you. But the thing is when a black guy in 1967 was open carrying it was seen by white conservative society as deliberate posturing in attempt to intimidate, threaten, and annoy the public and to antagonize public officials like cops and politicians . When Johnny Eastcoast Whitekid does it today we believe it when we are told it is all about personal comfort, or even better, social education or constitutional philosophy or a healthy expression of defiance. Damn the man, right?

    Reality likely is that OC activism is/was about all of the above for both groups. The Panthers professed their OC activism was for the same innocuous reasons Johnny Eastcoast Whitekid does it today. We however ascribe the negative set of intentions to the panthers and give Johnny Whitekid a benefit of the doubt so large that you could fly the USS IAmGullible through it sideways. There is probably a healthy portion of racial bias in that dichotomy, some wishful thinking, but mostly hypocrisy in that we see public displays of defiance in abstract as a high virtue when it is from our group and we see the same as unhealthy or corrosive to society when it comes from an “other”. Racial distinctions are the original “other”, followed closely by religion and politics. I can’t decide if that is depressing or hilarious.

  30. avatar.9mm says:

    I have never open carried. I have always carried my firearm IWB or sometimes in my right front pocket. I don’t like unnecessary attention especially when I am armed.

  31. avatarMatt in FL says:

    I’m late to this party, but people above clearly covered it.

    My first response was, “Hell yes, race matters in perception and enforcement.” But after a moment’s thought, I realized that is really only true in certain specific locales at this point. What is much more relevant than race at this point is mode/manner/style of dress. The thing is, that shouldn’t matter either. A thug in a suit is still a thug. Fortunately, not too many lowlifes will take the time to dress well and mask their thuggishness.

    The question is, how far do you let your guard down because that person is well dressed or good looking? In certain situations, that pretty girl is a honey trap to distract you from her friends. Trust me, I’m not an unfriendly curmudgeon to everyone I meet, but it is something to consider.

    • avatarjwm says:

      One of the guys in my outfit got killed in a botched robbery after being lured into a secluded spot by a good looking blonde who was fronting for the robber. That saying you see on the internet covers this situation.

      “Be polite..Be professional…But have a plan to kill every motherfvcker in the room.”

      I lived by that advice long before the interwebz.

      Does that make me paranoid? Maybe, but I’ve lived long enough to have grandkids.

  32. avatarMorris says:

    I keep hearing well dressed, what exactly is well dressed, why does that matter who decides well dressed. Does a guy have to be in a suit or similar to be a low tthreat. I am 6’4 285 and happen to be black. Even in a dress shirt and slacks I have people tell me I have an initimidating presence no firearm by the way.

    We keep hearing baggy pants and no belt as being potentially threatening clothing. What about dirty tee shirt and jeans that are tattered or have holes. Would it be threating to see a white guy dressed this way? Would folks think well this is just a working guy, mechanic forklift driver etc? What about a 23 year old young black man dressed the same way, what are the initial thoughts going to be? Just some questions to consider.

    I do not open carry, I live in TN now, when I lived in GA (atlanta area) I did open carry for a few months to a year while waiting for my GA CCW, but then I always made sure to dress the stereotypical good guy way, I was a corporate type at the time. I wouldnt dress open carry even with slacks and shirt now , frankly I realize that it is very possible that I will get stopped by the police and every interaction I have with the police I think of as an opportunity to get my head blown off just because the guy was nervous or scared, we all see the news and know it happens, lets just say I want to keep my odds of getting shot for no reason as low as possible.

    • avatarMatt in FL says:

      Well dressed vs not is like the old saying about obscenity. I know it when I see it. It’s not strictly “well-dressed.” It’s mode/manner/style.

    • avatarMark N. says:

      From my perspective living in a small town in northern California with not a whole lot of blaks, I can tell you that the white kids with their hoodies up and their pants hangin down set off my alarm bells. Neck and face tats are another big warning sign. So yeah, seeing a white guy dressed this way creeps me out. I want to see faces. i want pants around the waist. Tats are popular, but still, face tats are bad mojo, usually associated with felons and gangs.

    • Well as I stated above I wear jeans and tshirts most everywhere I go. Now granted when I get off work i have my dirty old steel toed boots on, usually not a real good tshirt, and worn jeans. I work in a quarry so wear old worn clothing to work.
      As for any other time is jeans and tshirt, pair of black casual shoes I can run in if necessary and a ball cap. But still having short hair and tattoo’s most people think I am either a white supremacist or an off duty drug cop. Being neither one I just let it slide most of the time unless someone shows a genuine curiosity as to my occupation or something. Yes Be polite but have that plan ready!!!

  33. avatarST says:

    Biracial Dark Man stepping in .

    Ill mark my belated entry into this topic by stating the following. As a nation, we still are a long way from accepting firearm ownership as the civil right it is. Make no mistake the expansion of concealed carry beyond officials of the State is a great development, but lets not mistake that for acceptance of the PRACTICE of carrying a firearm in general.

    The main reason I’d say CCW has expanded as it has is BECAUSE the weapon is hidden.Our society is a looks-based one;if someone *looks* unarmed then they must BE unarmed, and therefore the weak willed and the easily discombobulated can continue to pretend that the world is a place devoid of violence. The concealed carrier is thus able to protect themselves in a factual sense, and the concealment of the weapon means the hoplophobes can protect their illusions of safety.

    Look at the states like Texas which attach grave penalties to even accidentally displaying the weapon. Why? Because display of the weapon ruins the illusion held by the masses of safety via public offices like the Police !

    Hoplophobes become offended by an open carrier for two reasons as I observe it:one, the armed individual clearly isn’t buying into the same social contract that they are. How dare someone assume they’re above using the same public defensive services they trust their lives in! The logic for the sheeple is, if a stranger carries a pistol and I don’t, either I’m an idiot or they are. I can’t be a moron for trusting the cops, so THEY must be in the wrong somehow. Time to call 911 and report a “man with a gun”, because if he’s not carrying that thing to feel safe what IS he toting that Glock for?

    The second reason is even more basic:an open carrier disrupts the illusion of a perfectly safe society. As such, negative reactions to Open Carry have little to do with skin color and more to do with American society still placing misplaced trust in Police to save them from a problem of personal defense that *only* the victim can solve. Until the day comes when a cop really does cite someone for driving around without a pistol , friction will remain regarding the open display of personal arms.

    • avatarMark N. says:

      I agree completely, as this was the experience in California. The OC movement was populated by well dressed people doing normal things, like walking down the boardwalk, meeting with friends at Starbucks or Denny’s, or even just walking down the street. Their purpose was a political protest agains the restrictive gun laws here, and the reaction, immediately, from the political forces in southern california and in the bay area was to enact a statewide ban.
      I have to believe that the same would happen if you could openly carry a gun in New Yorkm New Jersey or Maryland, and it would not matter at all how you were dressed or what your race was. (On the other hand, a good looking chick with a pink holster would, in my mind any way, excite a less vehement reaction from the soccer mom crowd–although they would certainly snub such a person).In these places, people fear the gun, not the person, unless it is carried by a person who looks like a cop or a security guard. Anyone else is an antisocial zealot who needs to be taken away somewhere else by the police.

    • avatarAlphaGeek says:

      Comment of the day, right there. TTAG should republish this as a standalone article.

    • avatarDon says:

      You are the winner.

      I don’t care if others want to pretend the world is safe so long as nothing interferes with my ability to be safe and carry a gun. Me carrying concealed among other more tactical advantages, helps these other people be deluded and therefore prevents them from having the motivation or energy to interfere with my life and business.

      OC for “social normalization” purposes is a pipe dream. People’s desire to pretend the world is perfect and safe as you point out, is and always will compel them to be angry at a reminder that it isn’t, and people fight what angers them. I am for OC, I lobby for it and believe it should be legal everywhere, but OC-as-activism is not the tactic which will bring that about. At the same time, in 99.9% of instances I think OC is a less wise carry option and counterproductive (tactically and politically)… but still a necessary right for when you may need to and ESPECIALLY to protect people against B.S. Texas style brandishing charges.

    • avatarRick S says:

      ST: You have hit the nail right on the head. It has been the failure of the gun community to promote the 2nd Amendment as a universal right for all. It is my opinion that Concealed Carry laws only serve to reduce the number of people who are afforded the ability to take advantage of the 2nd Amendment. The costs associated with CC are great. When I received my CHL I realized that I would have to buy a smaller gun and IWB holster to accommodate Texas’ strict printing rules. Without CC I could have easily and much more cheaply used the standard size firearm I already owned. Now don’t get me wrong, while I am in favor of “open carry” I have no problem with someone wanting to CC I just wish we had the option in Texas to carry however we want to. One thing that OC does is show people that people who choose to carry are regular people leading regular lives. That might take the mystery out of what makes someone want to own a gun. An interesting little side note is that at one time it was illegal in Texas to CC and only OC was allowed (this obviously was a long long time ago) but the reasoning for this was that if you weren’t up to no good you had no reason to not want someone to know you were armed. My last comment on what has become apologetically too long of a comment is: Gun laws don’t violate my 2nd Amendment rights, they violate mine and everyone else’s CIVIL Rights.

  34. avatarDyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    The logic for the sheeple is, if a stranger carries a pistol and I don’t, either I’m an idiot or they are. I can’t be a moron for trusting the cops, so THEY must be in the wrong somehow. Time to call 911 and report a “man with a gun”, because if he’s not carrying that thing to feel safe what IS he toting that Glock for?

    Right here, the essence of the hoplophobe is nailed down. It goes with much of the rest of the political perspective of those who possess this mindset, but this one comment really nails it down. One can almost hear the thoughts inside the heads of these people:

    “You’re challenging my carefully constructed worldview. (in a hissing voice) How dare you!”

    This is the cause of their reaction – calling the police and insisting that something be done.

    The real irrational aspect of their worldview however, isn’t that they think we distrust law enforcement, or that they implicitly trust law enforcement. It is that they think that the police and law enforcement agencies at any level of government are responsible for their personal safety.

    I’ve had many conversations with people when I lived in Lotus Land in the 90′s where I’d show people the case law that the police had no duty to deliver protection to any particular person if they were not under arrest, that the police cannot be called to account for failure to stop a crime against any particular person. The looks of incomprehension on their faces, especially when I’d show the Warren v. DC case (in which the police were called twice to the address, responded twice to the address, but the rapists continued to have their way with the female occupants for days on end) was amazing. These people wanted laws changed… and then I’d point out that there was no law that could change the case law. The case law was handed down by a succession of courts in multiple states, jurisdictions, venues, etc.

    These people live in a bubble of perpetual blissful ignorance. They think that the police will protect them. They think that Social Security will be solvent. They think that a college degree guarantees their kids a good job. They think that the new safety features on cars means that they don’t need to pay attention to their driving, etc, etc. In a word, these people are just ignorant – of the law, the reality and the world around them.

  35. avatarErik says:

    Would open carry be contingent on racial profiling? To some degree, yes.

    At the same time, as 2A activists, it’s important to remember that the right to own and carry a firearm is a right given to everyone: from the well-groomed,well dressed individual to the shady-looking individual wearing a hoodie and baggy pants living in an inner city.

  36. avatarJohn Clancy says:

    Almost 60 yrs old and I don’t open carry or wear shoot me first gear. I don’t want you to know I have a firearm unless I need to use it. I feel the advantage is mine if you don’t know. For me it’s all about the advantage.

    I think in the Denver Metro area you will attract a lot of attention regardless of race with open carry.

  37. avatarBuuurr says:

    “Dirk Diggler says:

    October 24, 2012 at 14:07

    as a Black male, I have open carried in some places (ie, ultra liberal Ann Arbor, MI), but people assumed I was an off duty police officer. It may have been the .357 mag in a police holster or the fact that I didn’t have baggy pants.”

    Me too. I get that a lot. I am a White male and have been called ‘Sir’ or ‘Officer’ at times. It’s funny. I’ve spoken with some black guys who open carry at local shops here in Cleveland about thier gun choices. It’s a great conversation starter – gun questions that is.

  38. avatarCMCooper says:

    The question is not really one of color, but of stereotype. In other words, a clean-cut black male sporting a 1911 on his belt will generate far less interest than that same black male dressed as a pants-sagging thug. Now, if suggesting that dressing like a gangsta-rapper stereotype will brand you as a threat to folks on the street passes for racism, then we have bigger problems in this country than open or concealed carry.

  39. Worst part of the video? The skinny, slouchy, tattoo covered dude with the cute chick. His looks would have disturbed me to the point that I would be watching for aberrant behavior from him instead of watching the little cutie. Just sayin’.

  40. avatarNativeAmerican says:

    Saw someone mention a guy coming into a kiddy establishment with a trenchcoat on, and them ‘beating it’ because he was suspicious. Made me laugh and get a little upset at the same time. You see my husband wears a black leather treanchcoat, this used to especially get the sideways looks when his hair was long, and the majority of his wardrobe is black. My husband is the nicest man you would ever want to meet, he will give someone the shirt off his back if he thinks they need it. He also plays drums in a band, rides a motorcycle, and loves his firearms and swords. You might judge him. He wears the trenchcoat because he has a very messed up knee, and it keeps the wind and cold off of it more than a normal coat would. Do you feel ashamed yet? If you’re going to judge a book by it’s cover, you might want to look it in the eye first, you might be surprised what you see there.

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