I recently conducted a brief experiment with open carry in the Ocean State. During the week my hip held a Glock 19 in a retention holster . . . nothing. No comments. No police interaction. Nada. Even so, as a single father, I decided to pack it in; I couldn’t afford to run the risk of arrest and detention. But I remain an OC advocate. When practiced in sufficient numbers, open carry “normalizes” firearms, extending and defending our Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms. When practiced in sufficient numbers (which can be a single individual), OC deters violent crime. But OC’s most important advantage lies in its ability to protect armed Americans against unarmed Americans . . .
You’re walking down the street. A stiff wind blows your cover garment away from your body, exposing your gun. A concerned citizen (a.k.a., hoplophobe) sees you’re packing and calls the cops. Next thing you know you’re busted for brandishing. Dollars to donuts you can kiss your gun rights goodbye. Forever.
I know what you’re thinking: concealed means concealed. If there’s an open shirt issue, carry inside-the-waistband. Pocket carry. Hide your gun. It’s your own damn fault if you scare the horses.
Yes, well, shit happens. No matter how well you secret your firearm there’s a chance someone will ID your heater. It happened to me in a cafe. “I see you’re a policeman,” a nearby espresso drinker remarked, eyeing my small, non-sexual bulge in a non-sexual way.
It’s not all about chance encounters. Someone with a grudge (e.g., future ex-wife, disgruntled employee, neighbor) could make your life hell by calling the cops claiming they saw your gun during an argument. “He threatened me!”
There are plenty of arguments against Open Carry, even amongst gun rights advocates. Gun guru and TTAG contributor Rob Pincus, for example, reckons the movement is fueled by bravado. Open Carry did nothing for gun normalization in California. Quite the opposite.
So what? In a state that allows open carry armed Americans are legally protected against charges of brandishing, should someone see their concealed carry firearm and accuse them of being a danger to society. It’s no small thing, at least for those of us who exercise our Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms. And wish to continue to do so.