How many people know you have guns? Do you try to limit that information on a need-to-know basis? Personally, I ditched concerns about my OpSec (Operational Security) a long time ago. You can’t run a firearms blog seen by 60k+ per day and expect to keep your gun ownership on the DL. So, on one hand we have the need to not know. On the other, the need to normalize guns. Where do you come down on this one?

77 Responses to Question of the Day: Got OpSec?

  1. I can say I usually test the waters first. If they are AI then game is on, otherwise I leave it on the down low. Being more prominent in the public sure makes you start to think about what you say and to whom.

    Just a story..
    We were at my wife’s work and out of no where a guy drops by our table as we were scarfing down on wings. I was wondering WTH? He wanted to shake my hand for all I do, sat there and said he listened to the radio show, was on our Facebook page for GRAA, and was at one of the rally’s. He even remembered some articles I did for TTAG. Wow talk about embarrassing. I am just one guy. I guess the notoriety was unexpected, but glad to know we were reaching people.

    So yeah my outlook has changed a lot.

  2. Thus far, I’ve eschewed open displays of my gun advocacy. I’ll talk at length with my friends and some colleagues, but nobody else knows. Lately, however, I’m considering buying and wearing t-shirts and caps that bear logos from Ruger, Glock, etc., just to fly my flag and do my part to normalize the culture-of-the-gun.

    • Exactly. Even though I lost all my guns in a boating accident…

      It’s important to not let it be taboo. To openly discuss firearms and the shooting sports, not just when it comes to gun control. Remember Eric Holder and ilk are trying to make guns something that we should be ashamed of and they want to continue negative connotations towards firearms so that we as a society drop it from normal conversation and usage.

      This video of a younger Mr. Holder shows his master plan to get gun owners to “cower in shame” like they made society treat cigarette smokers. The MSM has been doing this for years.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9xqkeBOhcI

      Converse with anyone respectable, just as you would about cars or watches or anything of value.

    • I’m a big fan of ENDO’s shirts – http://www.endoapparel.com/, but I am less subtle than most. I do not wear them when I CCW as most of them are way too obvious. They make a nice conversation piece for the range however, and I do like to wear them when I go to public events that strictly forbid CCW, like our local team’s NBA games (they wand people from head to toe there, unlike our MLB team who does not). I had a really nice conversation with a couple of cops who liked my “Keep Calm and Carry One (Glock)” shirt at one NBA game. I wear my heart on my sleeve.

      • I wear them when I CCW, but that’s because if I wore then when I didn’t CCW I’d be wearing them in the shower and while asleep, and that’s just a waste of $25.

  3. I post pictures of myself and friends shooting on Facebook. No Aaron Hernandez mirror shots, but it’s no secret I have and like guns. In public, don’t ask don’t tell. You don’t need to know I’m carrying.

    Being a single guy in my mid twenties, I do ask ladies of interest how they feel about guns.

  4. As sad as it is, firearms has been added to my list, alongside religion and politics, as topics that I will not discuss outside the inner circle.

  5. All my friends know. Some acquaintances and business associates do too, as do one or two of my neighbors who see me carrying cased rifles from time to time. A former neighbor who saw RF and me carrying a bunch of cased rifles asked if they were fishing rods. The nitwit seemed relieved when we said yes.

    I don’t hide it from anybody, but I don’t advertise it either. Which is why I don’t post or comment under my full name. Concealed means concealed, right?

    Oh, my cats know, but they seem indifferent. If only most people were as smart as cats.

    • I’m with Ralph. My friends and family know, and some acquaintances and business associates. If someone I meet in the course of my day expresses interest, then I may bring it up. However, I do a lot of business in the People’s Republic of Boulder, so circumspection is the order of the day.

      I’ll wear shirts or hats with a gun logo at the range, but otherwise I don’t advertise. And I carry concealed-mainly by choice, but in certain Colorado cities (Denver especially) because it’s dictated by law.

  6. PUBLIC:
    – *That* I own guns: yes.
    – *Shooting stories* and the like: yes.
    – *What* guns I own: no
    – That I have a FFL and do transfers: yes

    ACQUAINTANCES:
    – Same as PUBLIC
    – More open on details, situationally dependent.
    – Will invite to go shooting

    FRIENDS:
    – Same as ACQUAINTANCES
    – Even more open on details

  7. I yuck it up all the time with any that will listen to me about guns and gun rights. I worked over 20 years in a California public school system and nobody there had doubts about my stand on 2a.

    In the electronic world opsec is a fantasy any way. Maybe if you lived in a cave, bought all your guns thru yard sales prior to 1950 and then sealed yourself in the cave nobady would no anout your goodies. Maybe.

    • Yeah, if Amazon can record the crap I briefly look at and then email me with a better deal when I don’t buy it, I’m sure google can remember all the times I’ve been searching for ammo, and which firearms I’ve been researching as well.

    • Well, the lovely NSA officer now knows Steve. So much for Opsec. As for me, screw it everyone who I probably don’t want to know probably knows. So I just blab on about it as much as I can. Someone’s gotta make guns normal and shutting up tight doesn’t do much good. ( though I understand why you would)

  8. If something specific comes up I’ll talk within context. I dont ever offer up more info than is required of the conversation at hand though. Talking about IDPA? I might mention the Glock I used last year. Talking about deer season? I’ve a lovely Marlin lever gun. No more info than is required of the conversation.

  9. Guests: Not so much.

    Family: Yes.

    Friends: Sometimes. I try not to give too many details, unless it’s pertinent to the conversation and I feel I can reasonably trust who I’m speaking with.

  10. Guns no guns hear just a concerned citizens tracking information for big brother so that I may be spared while the rest of you heathens are jailed. (sarc) I let very few people know what firearms I actually own but am very adment on introducing new people to firearms I just helped 3 people who were anti-gun at the beggining of this month build AR-15s.

  11. My husband is very much on the keep everything in the family camp.

    we don’t give out unnecessary information. ever. not even in the grocery line.

  12. Airlines do an awesome job screwing up OpSec. I just flew to WI with my 6.8 AR, Glock 23, Glock 27, and Smith 340 PD. I had “4 guns” to declare, with just under 11 pounds of ammo. You could tell the airline guys thought I was a little nuts. The hardware was in an FDE Pelican case with two locks – one a combo and 1 a key. After my flight, the MKE airport chucked my Pelican case in the standard baggage claim. I made it a point to move with a purpose to baggage claim after we landed, but an adept individual could have a great chance at stealing guns under similar circumstances. I don’t like being separated from my hardware.

    On a separate deer hunting flight, an inquisitive OFWG co-flyer wanted to know about my trip after I declared my guns to the airline. I gave him some general details about going hunting and such. When he pressed for specifics, I told him that he was welcome to ask, but I was welcome not to answer. That got him pretty pissed off. OpSec, better too much than too little.

  13. I don’t blab but I do tell coworkers I “went to the range” if the intrest is there the topic continues. I don’t tack it up at parties with groups of people I’ve never met. I keep what,where and how much under wraps. (If only that worked with the wife)

  14. Around these parts it’s only surprising when someone admits to not having a gun. I don’t exactly advertise, but wont hesitate to admit it either.

  15. I only talk about guns with friends or at the range, in public I talk about the “girls”, Zoe, Kate, Moxxi…etc. The general public generally just assumes I have girl friends with expensive taste. I do speak openly of gun rights, but not what I personally own.

  16. I make no secret that I’m a supporter of gun rights. I have that discussion with people on a regular basis, mostly to try and reasonably clear the air when I encounter the gun ignorant.

    Which is usually the type I encounter when I’m told that there need to be stricter/bigger/badder/tougher (enter flavor word of choice) gun control laws. Most folks that nod and agree are the folks that have limited or no exposure to guns, and expect that the only folks that will oppose these regulations are the quasi-boogeymen ‘gun nuts’ lurking out there in Paranoid RedneckLand.

    I discuss with the hopes of clarifying things for the misinformed. What I don’t do, is talk about what I’ve got at my house to those that aren’t close friends. I don’t photograph my inventory for Facebook or Twitter, and I’m not keen on discussing the details of my training in social media either. Face to face, I’ll discuss the future of gun rights with an open minded stranger, and I know that they will have no doubt I’m a gun owner. The contents of my safe and my personal round count is nobody’s business.

  17. I don’t talk about firearms to anyone outside of a small group of friends. Definitely not at work.
    If asked I never admit to strangers, pollsters, or F*%king doctors that I own weapons.

  18. I sacrifice OpSec for evangelizing about guns. My last place of employment, it was such common knowledge that I was a “gun guy” that several approached me for recommendations on which gun to purchase, what I thought about Illinois’ struggle to pass a concealed carry law, etc. Got three new shooters to let me entice them to the range.

    I am of the opinion that anything we can do to force people to acknowledge the gun culture as a “normal” thing to do / be a part of, is a good thing. These people knew me at work. They knew I was NOT a fire breathing KKK member looking forward to the great race war, or any of the other stereotypes promoted by the anti-gun crowd. Got a chance to have some conversations, change some minds and hearts. That, to me, is worth the risk of raising my profile.

    Recently became a certified instructor. Did my DBA publication with the knowledge that my name, address, and purpose of the business would be published for anyone to see. Made me swallow hard. I am amassing demo and classroom guns. Thinking about more secure storage, etc. It is a definitely a trade off.

  19. I always tell my daughters after a trip to a range that they are free to talk about the experience to their classmates. Otherwise, no one will know that normal people own and enjoy shooting firearms.

  20. It depends on the person. If I know they have a criminal past (or present) I won’t say anything about guns to them. But if I know the person and that they are law-abiding, I won’t be secretive about it. I don’t really bring it up and yammer on and on about what guns I have and how much they’re worth, but if the subject comes up I’ll chime in.

  21. Friends, family, and some/most co-workers know. I do my damndest to not be obvious about it in public. But hey kids, its Utah. Ruger hats and Browning buckmark shirts don’t even raise eyebrows.

  22. I think you should be able to talk about your guns. I mean I would talk about my guns in public but due to the tragic boating accident I no longer own any guns.

  23. My wife is what one would call hoplophobic–but torn about it because she is totally disabled and therefore vulnerable. She caught me receiving a black powder pistol from UPS, so I admitted to the other two. The rest remain on the DL, and only my kids know exactly what I have (because they’ve shot them all). A few close friends know of some of them, but otherwise, not. And I plan on keeping it that way. My real problem these days is that I no longer have an expense account to surreptitiously fund my acquisitions from excess mileage reimbursements.

  24. On the job I am known as “the gun guy” and have been approached by many non shooters for info. Being in customer service (IT prof) I make sure to be very easy to talk to and friendly in my conversations.

    I have taken many people to the range to get their feet wet and generated many new gun owners. Keeping my passion a secret would only serve to limit exposure to the shooting world, and continue the mystery and taboo that plagues society regarding firearms.

    Every time there is a mass shooting I am immediately asked my opinion about what should be done to stop them. Reminding people about the dangers of gun free zones, speaking up when someone is unstable, and shooting down the BS the antis feed society goes a long way to counter the myths the MSM spouts.

    We have a responsibility to be ambassadors to the non shooting public. We have the task of promoting safe handling and ethical use of firearms. OPSEC is a farse when we really should be very vocal and welcoming to those on the fence and even those adamantly against firearms ownership. You would be surprised how often you can win someone over when you aren’t militant or secretive about the things you love.

  25. Open about my firearms ownership, cover gun showes for my favorite dealer, sell to a lot of folks I work with, the local PD will borrow some of my battle rifles from time to time for training purposes (none of what i own is approved for duty use but gives officers the opportunity to shoot kit they otherwise would never get the chance to) they will hang on to them for a month or so and shoot the snot out of them.

  26. Opsec is pretty easy when you have a general disdain for talking to people you don’t know or don’t want to know. I think opsec in the sense that you don’t blab in public about all the guns you own and that you carry concealed is good but telling people who are interested about responsible, safe gun ownership, self defense, fun etc… is good. I don’t have any gun/tacticool stickers on my truck (in fact, today I was thinking about counter-criminal actions, like putting coexist and Obama-Biden 2012 stickers on my truck as a deterrent; can I disguise a Suburban to look like Prius?) and don’t wear gun clothes all that often.

  27. This is a really tough question without any good answers.

    As recently as two years ago, I operated under the assumption that Big Brother could be listening to any phone conversation and was keeping track of our on-line activity. So if you researched anything or visited any websites that Big Brother thought was interesting, I figured Big Brother was watching you. More recently I decided that Big Brother is tracking all credit card transactions to any firearms related retailer so they have a very good idea of who has what. Thus I conclude that OpSec is non-existent when it comes to Big Brother. Unless you purchase ALL firearms privately in cash and purchase ALL ammunition with cash, I believe it is wise to assume that the feds knows your situation almost as well as you do.

    OpSec for friends, neighbors, co-workers, and possibly even family is a different matter. If none of them know what you have, that greatly reduces the odds of them trying to steal your stuff either now or if society collapses. That is the up side. However, there are two down sides. First, you are not being an ambassador for the cause of armed citizens. You cannot reach out to anyone, take anyone to the range for their first time, or just generally help anti-gun people see that armed citizens are good honest people. That is pretty huge in my opinion. Second, if no one knows about your ability to secure your family during a societal collapse, you will have to face that collapse completely alone. That is pretty huge in my opinion as well. I don’t care how many firearms you have, what kind you have, and how much ammunition you have. If you survive the initial wave of chaos, you will be a prime target to organized roving bands of marauders.

    My philosophy tries to address all angles. Invest some time with your friends, neighbors, co-workers, acquaintances, and even family and test the waters. Get a sense whether these people are trustworthy in general. Get a sense whether these people have the moxy and where-with-all to be assets if society collapses. If they seem like the type of people that you want to work with in ugly scenarios, then talk more openly and see where it goes.

    As for complete strangers, I try not to reveal anything. They could be totally harmless. They could be criminals looking for their next mark. Or they could even be informants or government agents looking for who knows what. All that said, I still try to participate in activist events which exposes me to strangers. However, I try to participate anonymously.

  28. If I know someone who will tell someone, who will then come and rob me, then we have bigger problems. They might come for the electronics, painkillers or whatever else they think might be in the house. Given the issues with schools, i advise the kids not to discuss guns, or hunting. I am sure 99% people are fine, but with my luck we’ll encounter the ONE. I don’t mention guns for the same reason I don’t mention that I shoot bambi, I don’t want to get into a conversation that will make my eyes roll and head explode.

  29. Since I work in the People’s Demokratik Republik of New Jersey, I have no bumper stickers on the cars, no firearms hats, jackets, “T” shirts and I don’t talk about it with anyone unless I have VERY good knowledge that they are also gun owners. I live in PA, but close to the NJ border, so I keep quiet at home as well. Otherwise, I’m setting myself up to have the house burgled, or invaded while my wife is home alone. If anyone ever asks me about home security, I say I have a large dog that doesn’t bark, he just eats his prey.

  30. The NSA/.gov don’t scare me into silence. They already would know anyway regardless of what I say (or don’t). It’s virtually impossible to avoid it.

    And besides, how else can you stand up for gun rights except speak up? If we were always silent, we’d never win and the gun grabbing lobby would be making further inroads than they have.

    Here’s my situation for the most part:

    Public Knowledge:
    – I am an NRA and state certified instructor
    – I teach gun classes (want a business card?)
    – I support gun rights

    Within The Classroom:
    – I can make a few firearms recommendations for people to try, and I have my “go-to” example gun
    – Will not talk about “how many” or about any ownership past my example(s)

    Among acquaintances:
    – Talks about guns and displays knowledge of them
    – May mention some guns I have, but will not answer the “how many” truthfully

    Among trusted friends:
    – Slightly more details above acquaintances, they may know a larger number than acquaintances

    Only my wife knows exactly how many and what kinds I have, and if I could successfully keep her in the dark too I would.

  31. This can be such a touchy topic.

    Family – they all know that I am a gun owner and shoot, but are not that interested in specifics, except my kids who will go shooting with me.

    Friends – they’re all gun folk, mostly, and we pretty openly share what we do, own, lust for, etc.

    Acquaintances – some know I shoot, but not many. A couple of neighbors know I shoot and own “guns” but nothing specific. This may be a mistake, being tight mouthed around them, as if someone learns I shoot (e.g., sees me carrying guns to my truck for a range trip) they invariably want to chat and then they share that they own a shotgun, or some such. I’ve invited several of them to the range, but no takers yet. I should do a better job representing to these people. I just don’t want anyone to know how many I have.

    Co-workers – Maybe only 1 or 2 know I am an avid shooter and own guns. Our company had a mass murder some years ago, before I joined it, and I am very aware that many people I work with are classic New England all-guns-are-evil folk. I made the mistake once of confiding to a co-worker how many firearms I’d purchased in the past year (7 – hey, a C&R totally rocks) and he still looks at me funny when I see him. Completed disgusted him.

    Public – here is where I get very, very tight mouthed. No NRA stickers on my truck. No firearms t-shirts, caps, etc. I only load my truck for the range when the street is mostly empty. None of those stupid placards or bumper stickers showing how cool and tough I am as a gun owner. I just don’t want anyone I don’t know, at least somewhat, knowing I have firearms at my house. Ever.

  32. My immediate family knows. Anyone else will find out in the darkness of the front hall, just before they meet their maker.

  33. OK RF, as a serial husband and I believe currently single guy, I have a variant on this issue for you. Your sage advice will help millions. When adults are out on the prowl for companionship of some sort, when do you DROP THE INFO? On the first date? Later? When you take your wedding vows? Do you answer the Mae West question honestly..”is that a gun or are you happy to see me?”

  34. I will tell anybody I own guns.

    I will tell anybody who is interested about specific guns I own, generally how many, guns I’ve owned in the past etc. but I generally don’t get into the total value of my collection.

    I will talk to anybody about gun rights but don’t unless someone starts to ask much about it.

  35. I personally don’t care who knows I have firearms. (Outside the police and feds) I live in an apartment building, and know for a fact that a group of so called gang bangers left both my apartment and motorcycle alone because the one who did live in the complex knew I was armed, and more then happy to shoot to kill. I don’t travel much, however the last time I took a flight with my firearms (post 9/11) I had to notify the people at the airport, but, kept it short and to the point. Not wanting my firearms to not make to my end location. I.E. Get stollen before I ever got on the plain.

    • I used to think that way.

      Now it’s OPSEC all the way; with everything, especially anything valuable or concerning daily routines.

      You never know if a friend may innocently drop the ball on you when some bad actor, or an acquaintance of a bad actor is listening.

      My wife started blabbing about my guns at a friends BB Que one time. I promptly made it abundantly clear, on the spot, that that was NOT a topic for public discussion, ever.

  36. I’ve got a son in public high school and a daughter in middle school who have great friends, but loose lips sink ships and my concern is that the wrong element in school overhears that “this kid’s Dad got a bunch of guns”.

    So, I’ve done OpSec with our son. Only once have we taken one of his friends and his Dad to the range and after reviewing the 4 rules of gun safety, an OpSec discussion took place.

  37. I pretend I’m the country of Israel. People suspect that I have some guns, but they don’t know for certain what kind or how many. Not unless I’m sure they are part of the ballistic brotherhood, do they get any info about how many or what kind. What they don’t know won’t hurt them. Who knows, it may even save them?

  38. My guns

    Marlin Model 25N
    A .22 LR Bolt action with 7 round mag. Modified with a scope, bi-pod, and sling.

    Saiga 12
    Semi-auto 12 gauge shotgun with 2-20rd drums and 5-5rd stick mags. Photo posted on Facebook.

    PSL
    Semi-auto Romanian version of the Dragunov. Has the “man-killer” scope. 7.62x54R caliber with one 10rd mag. Picture on Facebook with me and LC9.

    Paratrooper SKS
    Semi-auto Chinese alteration of the SKS. 7.62×39 caliber with 2-30rd AK mags.

    Mossberg 500ER
    Pump .410 shotgun. Got after my great grandfather died.

    LC9
    Semi-auto 9mm handgun. Pictured with PSL and was Open Carried (OC) and sometimes Concealed Carried (CC).

    Walther/Colt .22lr “1911”
    Semi-auto .22LR handgun manufactured to function kinda like the 1911. Getting Suppressor (like 1-2 more months!) and will OC with suppressor once I figure out a holster for it and Flashlight/Lazer attachment…

    SR1911
    Rugers rendition of the 1911. A beautiful piece of machinery. OC a lot, CC seldom.

    S&W 500
    8 3/8” Barreled revolver. OC in a custom kydex holster for straight forward quick draw. CC? lol, no. Often carried with 1911 because of Over-penetration issues and quick “NY reload”.

    I think that is about all of them. Oh only the marlin .22 and .410 shotgun not purchased by me or through an FFL. All handguns are registered in Michigan 🙁 by law.

    Attention: If you wish to take these from me they come with free lead…. Just Sayin’

  39. Anyone who knows me knows that I “like” guns. They know I own guns. They don’t know how many. They don’t know when or if I’m carrying.

    As an advocate for gun ownership and the Constitution via my conversations, blogging, and other online social media activity… I can’t and won’t hide my position on this topic.

  40. As the AI over at CalGuns would say, I have two words for you “Boating accident”

    But seriously, I try to not discuss guns with people I don’t know, because you never know when that otherwise sane and rational person is going to turn out to be a rabid anti-gun freakazoid. And I’m not being demeaning (OK maybe I am) I’m being honest. There are some things that are just hot button issues with some people, and no matter what logic you bring to the table, their phobia rules their mind so they can’t see the ignorance of their own statements.

    I had the police called on me one day while I was cleaning the gats in my garage with the roll up door open. Hoppes #9 smells great, but too much in an enclosed space makes you loopy. Not good when dealing with firearms. PD rolls up in the street and are eyeballing me. I set down my gun and walked out to their car. Apparently they got a “man with a gun” call. They suggested I close the door, and I politely declined and told them to have a good day. End of contact, end of story.

  41. Our office is overly gun friendly and we have Firearms Friday for show-and-tell so many of my co-workers know what I have and I shoot with several of them all the time. As for neighbors, several have seen some of them but none of them know how many. Anyone really observant could eventually figure it out from my blog at http://thefirearmsshow.com.

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