Scouring the web for ballistic grist for this blogging mill, I come across plenty of perspectives on armed self-defense. I’m pleased to report there’s not a lot of bad advice out there. Maintain situational awareness, lock your doors and windows, practice self-defense techniques—it’s all good. Well, most of it. itstactical.com offers a list of tips for Americans who’d really rather not be the subject of a home invasion and, if they are, prefer to be prepared. One of their bullet points (under “Skill Sets”) was not like the others: “Don’t open carry if allowed. Why show all your cards if you have the option of concealed carry?” So, let’s get into it . . .

The best argument against open carry is, supposedly, tactical. How can you serve-up the best recipe for armed self-defense—speed, surprise and violence of action—if you take surprise out of the mix? Along those same lines, carrying a gun openly is, allegedly, tantamount to wearing a T-shirt proclaiming “SHOOT ME FIRST.” As you can’t out-draw a drawn gun, well, do I have to draw you a picture?

I say supposedly and allegedly because there’s an equal argument for open carry, tactically speaking. Deterrence.

The only thing that can make a bad guy with a gun reconsider threatening, assaulting or attacking a good guy is the idea that he (the bad guy) won’t succeed. Bad guys may not be Harvard Law School grads (though they may be) but they’re fully capable of risk analysis. Hard target or soft? Soft—provided, of course, that the bad guy’s not higher than a proverbial kite. Or insanely desperate. Or really, really stupid.

Yes, there is that. God knows firearms instructors have been playing that crazed bad guy on PCP card since blue jeans had bells. But it’s mostly true that most attacks—especially home invasions—have an element of pre-planning to them. Hence itstactical.com’s laundry list of ways to make your house less attractive to burglary, both hot and cold. Hence my assertion that an open carry firearm offers its owners a tremendous deterrence advantage.

The People of the Gun are not exactly down with that upside. Which is odd, given that they argue—and rightfully so—that more guns equal less crime. Howzzat? Via deterrence. If that axiom is true isn’t a visible gun more of a deterrent—both immediately and over the long term—than a hidden one? For example . . .

A bad guy who goes into a Stop ‘N Rob and sees a customer with an open carry gun (preferably in a retention holster with a heads-up awareness thing going on). Wouldn’t the robber reconsider? And if he doesn’t reconsider, what does that tell you about his state of mind and the customer’s need to have a loaded gun ready to rock?

Don’t get me wrong: I get it. A bad guy shooting a good guy without warning is the good guy’s worst nightmare. The thought there is easy to understand: if I didn’t have a gun, or if the bad guy didn’t know I had a gun, he wouldn’t have shot me. The [non-Harvardian] analysis: it’s better not to take that risk than to count on open carry’s deterrence effect.

Besides, open carry draws unwanted attention from people who aren’t bad guys (depending on your 10-20). Including police, who could interrogate you, humiliate you, arrest you, remove your gun rights and/or shoot you dead. Who needs that sh*t?

Here’s the hidden variable: the number of open carry gun owners in one location. One guy openly carrying a firearm doesn’t weight the odds of deterrence sufficiently to justify the practice (in most people’s minds). But if there are two law-abiding citizens openly carrying a firearm in a location, the chances of deterrence increase exponentially. Three? Fuhgeddaboutit.

You first. No you. No you. I insist. It’s easy enough to say that open carry is a sound tactical strategy when two or more people practice it. It’s quite another to be that guy. The one who goes first, hoping that someone, anyone will go second. Which is another reason we should celebrate the rude, ego-maniacal, YouTube glory hounds exercising their Constitutionally protected right to bear arms in public. They are our shock troops. Literally.

Back to the question at hand: “Why show all your cards if you have the option of concealed carry?” Because bad guys may not ante-up if they see you’re holding four Aces. And your pal’s got a Full House. Hey, it may not be the most convincing argument in the world but I’d like to see someone disprove it in a high crime area like the intersection of Livernois Avenue and West Chicago Street. Know what I mean?

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103 Responses to It’s Tactical: Don’t Open Carry. True Story?

  1. Just take care that gun loving burglar types don’t observe and follow you home, then wait until the house is empty to requisition your collection.

    I’m leery of open carry for this reason only. In fact, I favor gun cases that don’t advertise their contents, if only for the walk from the house to the car. Easy with handguns, not so easy with long guns. I suppose I could get a trombone case, if I ever take up rifle shooting.

  2. Deterrence is already a factor with concealed carry. This is why violent crime has dropped nearly everywhere CC has been expanded or legalized.

    I don’t need to paint a target on myself to deter crime; I can do that by being alert and confident, and by quietly carrying in case it’s needed.

    • Concealed carry is also a diffuse deterrent. Since the bad guys don’t know who’s carrying, they tend to be more cautious in all situations.

      • +1
        The idea “a visible gun more of a deterrent—both immediately and over the long term—than a hidden one” misses this point. The reality that it’s not just the guns they see, but also the ones they don’t, that pushes criminals to safer targets. That’s why the larger the percentage of the population that has carry permits the better; backed up by the occasional local news story or viral video of a ccw holder ruining a badguy’s day.

      • I’d say 15 people open carrying in a Starbucks is a pretty big deterrent. Criminals worried people might be strapped and risking it vs. seeing everyone does have a gat, so to speak. I’ve been trying to get all my friends to get their CHL’s recently, showing them how easy it is. Military doesn’t even need to take the safety course for Virginia so a ton of us got ours from there. The more legal carriers we have the safer we will be.

    • Out of Sight, Out of Mind. Concelment does not deter. But, even setting that fact aside, Conceal still loses to Open in the converse argument.

      If you are attacked and need to defend yourself while carrying concealed, you’ll be dispensing lead in a public place. It might work, but this is still bad.

      If you are attacked and need to defend yourself while Openly Carrying, you’ll be the first person it ever happenbed to, becasue it doesn’t happen. It’s not even a statistal probability. It’s absloltely ZERO. It’s never happened. This is why there are no statistics compiled about the effectiveness of Open vs Concealed carry.

      The very fact that statistics CAN be compiled regarding Concealed Gun Use proves that it doesn’t deter. Open Carry, otoh, hasn’t got any statistics…

      We live in an imperfect world where absolutes rarely occur. When something works so amazingly well that it results in absolutely ZERO, it’s working pretty well…

      And let me nip this one in the bud, all you secret asian men with your hiden guns and government permission slips making you feel special and better; I know you like to falsify Open CArry events… Especially involving Cops being attacked becasue they Open carry…. Don’t think I won’t see throught hat BS. This is about CITIZENS Open Carrying. Being “the guy they go for first” makes no sense according to your own arguments, elsewise, why would you bother carrying one at all?

      The bottom line between the concepts of Concealed vs Open, is why you’re doing it. In most palces one can use deadly force in defense of yourself OR ANOTHER. Concealment is generally for the selfish. Open carriers help everyone in the general area.

      I don’t mind attracting a little unwanted attention if I’m doing the right thing and making the world a better place. That’s why I OC any time I can. Self Defense isn’t good enough. I’ll even defend a fool with an Obama bumper sticker who is getting carjacked in front of me. Or, if I’m OCing on my motorcycle, not have to… Because, as the concealers always tell us, bad guys run away from guns… What about that defensive display argument again?

      Concealers contradict themselves for the sake of the “Ha, now I’m gonna whip it out” ego trip. If nothng bad ever happens, because you’re OCing, you don’t get to feel big and special with no regard for the fact that you’re in a public place and it’s best NOT to shoot if you don’t have to.

      OC greatly extends the circumstances in which you won’t have to shoot and generally just makes the world a better place. If you’re so afraid of a little harassment from a Liberal that has to give you the last piece of their mind, or a rogue cop that might herass youl maybe the fight for freedom isn’t for you? Get a spine, don’t attack your fellow man for one-upping you…

      I even OC my RFB, slung… No one ran away screaming. One guy, an empoloyee of the store I was in, asked what it was and thought it was cool…

      Another important point is that the Liberals have aone-sided arument set afoot. They have the media telling their story; a pack of hateful lies. What can we do about it? Walk our walk, while they talk their talk. Be seen NOT the way they paint us. It proves they’re lying. If you conceal, you’re in the closet, doing no good, not being seen. If you’re afraid to come out, fine. But bashing those who take the stand and do what you’re too afraid to do isn’t helping. Trumping up BS arguments that you prove false in your own words about scaring off criminals… You undermine the cause and make a fool of yourself at the same time. The element of surprise is an offensive concept, it is entirely unuseful for defense.

      • Furhtermore; situational awareness. Ride a motorcycle for 14 years. You know what is going on all around you, all the time, that’s why you managed to ride a motorcycle for 14 years instead of 13 or 12 or 11… Not a weekend warrior with an overpriced Harley, a guy who rides daily. Concealers tend to bring up the “get shot without even knowing it” argument a lot, because it’s a situation they find themselves in; condition white. They don’t have to be alert, so, along comes the Pshychology 101: Projection. Concealers are not aware, therefore they assume that Open Carriers aren’t either. I’m not trying to make an only-ones argument at all. I’m not an asshole who tries that game. I’m not saying that “If you don’t OC you wouldn’t know.” I AM saying that OC hones the skill of awareness, while concealment lets you relax and be lazy. If you actually do it, you’ll get Spidey Senses. Some people conceal simply because that’s too much work and they really don’t care that much. Like driving stick, after you do it for a month, that new, elevated level becomes second nature. I call it self-improvement. You can call it whatever you want; I’m right becasue I’m living proof, along with so many others.

        I roll video a lot. I’ve never posted any of it on YouTube. It’s there just in case; same as the gun.

        • Last self-reply, I promise. :-p

          I can put lead on target with my slung RFB almost 4 times faster than trying to draw my TCP (PT738) from concealment. The RFB points so well, I don’t even have to use the sights to put lead on torso at 25yds, and I can do it in less than half a second. My next fastest rig is my PT1911AR in a Serpa Retention, crossdraw. Strong side is not strong side… But putting lead on target at 25yds is pretty hard with that one. Not even close to the speed, accuracy, and oomph of the RFB. Accuracy being my biggest peeve. So few poeple consider what happens if you miss in defensive gun use…

          This is the real reason that Open Carry is Best Carry: In a real-world defensive gun-use situation, which I’ve been in more times than I’d like, you’re nowhere near as good a shot as you are when you’re practicing at the range. You WILL miss. So, carry in such a manner that will result in shooting more, and this, missing more? Or, carry in such a manner that you never have to draw int he first place?

          It’s not really about Open or Concealed. It’s about the results and consequences of that choice. Open mean you won’t be shooting bad guys, and missing them and hitting someone else maybe? Concealed means you’re waiting until it’s too late, probably in a physical struggle, maximum adrenaline, maximum inaccuracy, dispensing lead in a public venue… All kinds of bad stuff that would be better off avoided by just OCing the damn thing.

  3. Pros and cons, as you say. No right answer for all situations. I’m happy that I live in an area in which I have a choice (though so far I always choose to CC), and wish that same choice was available for all of us.

  4. Great post.

    I’m also interested in how we allowed this to happen. Men who could carry swords way back in the day were seen typically as free men or wealthy. Those who carried hidden daggers were regarded as unseemly. This too was a common attitude toward guns (that’s why there were so many laws against concealed carry and less against open carry).

    How’d it change? Why’d the culture and perspectives on it change and when?

    You could write a great post about all that.

    In the end, these kinds of posts are what keeps me coming back to TTAG despite my hatred of the new layout.

    Thanks, Robert.

    • “How’d it change? Why’d the culture and perspectives on it change and when?”

      1) VERY SLOWLY, over many decades.

      2) Via Presstitute Media brainwashing, via every mode of communications imaginable. Except Ham Radio, probably. It was introduced into the school systems, as early as the late 1960s. Popular music. Via “Don’t Take Your Guns to Town, Son”. I’m not going to go on with it.

      If you were to set out to disarm an entire society so that offered no resistance to your plans, how would YOU go about doing it?

      Everything to that end that happened, happened for a reason.

  5. Just my opinion: open carry is a double-or-nothing proposition. If all goes well, the BG will be deterred. If not, the OC sucks up the first bullet.

    Personally, I (almost) never open-carry. Definitely concur with the idea of multiple OC in a flock. The one time I remember this was a pro-2A rally in front of the capitol building in Richmond, VA, with a veritable gaggle of OC’s, everything from small revolvers to evil high-powered assault weapons with shoulder things that go up.

    The best part of that day was watching the Capitol Police officers hobnobbing with the “protesters” about their favorite hardware, last trip to the range, commiserating about ammo shortages, etc. I just love the Old Dominion.

    • Everybody seems to automatically buy in to the notion of “shoot me first.”

      Except in gang on gang violence, how often does a criminal with a gun (other than in Hollywood) go into a situation actually expecting and/or willing to shoot people at random? They are bullies and expect the presence of their weapon to scare the crap out of everyone and get them the submission they want. Also they are not (Hollywood stereotypes, again) the brightest bulbs in the bunch. Most violent crimes or even Stop & Rob jobs are not well thought out, cased, and intricately planned. They go into it expecting cooperation from cowed victims and usually resort to gunplay as a last ditch final effort to get the fu** out of Dodge without getting killed. They may not be Mensa candidates, but they know that being sought for an armed robbery is a lot less stressful than being investigated for felony murder.

      In a public place the average BG who sees an open-carry pistol will, IMO, assume that you are 5-0 and move on quietly to a softer target. The odds of him just opening fire on you and THEN trying to rob the place seem awfully slim since he is undoubtedly trying to get away with as little commotion as possible. That scenario would also leave him wide open to the outcome that self-defense training schools like to kill their students with – ANOTHER armed customer in the store that was not obvious or visible out the outset.

      People who are targeting your house for burglary may or may not be any smarter than your average BG, and they may or may not be specifically looking for your guns. If your weapons are properly secured in the house while you are away this seems like a small risk. If they are casing your house and see you even once enter or leave with an open carry pistol I really think they are going to move on to an unarmed neighbor unless they are VERY sure neither you nor anyone else is home OR what they think what you have in the house is worth risking their life for.

      Personally I carry concealed here in Washington. I think that it would be nice to be able to open carry on some occasions, not all, but I have an aversion to talking to random police officers and risking whatever surprises they may decide to introduce to my day.

        • Exactly right, my dad and grandfather were deputies. They never feared open carry, they knew criminals hid their weapons to keep from drawing attention, but there is always an occasional loon. We three would laugh when told open carry made you a target. There is no huge assault of security guards, police, the pawn shop owners, etc who open carry every day. Criminals are not stupid, they go for soft targets. How willing are you to attack a man open carrying? Sure there may be some PCP freaks who wigs out, but those are statistically akin to mass shootings. Very rare. Open carry has been around a lot longer than concealed and I have no knowledge of these fears being played out. Just my .02…………

        • Criminals, by nature, are a cowardly and superstitious lot. To instill fear into their hearts, I became a bat. A monster in the night. And in doing so, have I become the very thing that all monsters become – alone?

        • Please to let us know how that works out. Being alone is so familiar it’s like a comfy pair of slippers to me.

      • “…I have an aversion to talking to random police officers and risking whatever surprises they may decide to introduce to my day.”

        All the more reason to open carry NOW. They’ll never get used to it if they don’t see it… and you leave a battle to your children and grandchildren that could be over before they ever begin to carry.

        • Precisely! Carry in the way you see fit. But carry! Do it! Even if you do it in a lesser form. But then, as all self-improvement, push yourself. I used to CC. HAving that steel against your skin can lead to a false sense of security. More than once, there was no way I could get it in my hand. Secrets don’t keep you and your’s safe. Fine. Conceal carry. It’s better than nothing. But nothing is the only thing it is better than, don’t kid ypourself about all these tactical advantages. Reality has a way of weeding out the talk. I’ve been there. I won’t knock a person for CCing. I’ll knock them for being fool enough to lie to themselves with the idea that it’s better than OC. It’s not. In any way. It’s merely better than nothing. One step along the path to getting it right.

          The public isn’t used to it? If your fear of “waht someone might think” is greater than your desire to make the world a better place; you are the reason we’re in the fight we’re in. Cowardice is never the answer. Making excuses to elevate cowardice, instead of purging your soul of it… That’s self-defeating.

  6. But then there are other reasons for open carry as well besides any tactical consideration.
    1. I don’t have the money to afford a ccw, so for at least the next few months it’s open carry or bust.
    2. Regularizing the sight of firearms in society. I’ve found that the people in my area tend to assume absolutely no one is carrying a gun. If they only see guns when they’re used to commit a crime it’s difficult to overcome the psychological connection between the two.

    It’s the principle of the thing for me. I’m not into shooting as a hobby. It’s fun when I have the opportunity but I don’t know a whole lot about guns, calibers, etc beyond what I need to know to operate them safely. Am I tactically more at risk? I suppose, although there doesn’t seem to be any trend of open carriers being shot more than non-OC. But even supposing there is, I personally value the principle of self defense and regularizing guns over perfectly maximizing my defense in an already unlikely scenario. I want to teach others and I want to advertise that we have rights. Maybe I have to deal with police every once and awhile but I prepare for that.

    • Good points.

      I was thinking along the same lines. Concealed carry puts us in a situation where we might be winning the battle but losing the war. With concealed carry only, the unarmed public has no idea that citizens use guns for good and believe that firearm ownership is declining. Thus long term consequences are likely to be a public that is hostile to all things firearms. Open carry exposes the mainstream media lie that guns == bad and helps the masses consider becoming firearms owners themselves. Thus the long term consequence is a public that rejects the mainstream media meme and a greater adoption of all things firearm among the masses.

    • Yeah that’s the only thing that bugs me about the CC only zealots. (who are few methinks) Can they show you numbers? How many people are shot JUST for openly carrying a gun? I’d bet if it happens at all, it is incredibly rare. So it’s kind of silly to base your whole argument on a non-issue isn’t it?

      I dunno.

      For me gun carry is about options. You will have different options with OC vs CC. At least we can all agree that having some option is better than none, though, heh.

  7. I don’t have a problem with open carriers and I have open carried while in the great out doors of Northern AZ but, I choose to cc and stay alert when in populated areas. I feel more comfortable that way. I like the fact that if I do find myself in a walk in “Stop-and-Rob”, that if the perp sees me, I’m not automatically a target. I can observe. I can decide if I or a loved one is directly threatened and if action/intervention on my part is need/warranted. I understand what the author of the article is saying, but there are going to be fraction of the criminal class that won’t care if they see you open carrying or not… especially if they want a particular target enough.

  8. I don’t think being confrontational and aggressive when you OC is viable long-term. I mean, obviously not if you’re walking a rifle around. Presumably that would be out of protest or other statement, not vanity – if it is the latter, you should seriously consider taking that weapon off while reconsidering your motivations.

    I OC out of ergonomics, simplicity, practicality, and convenience. It also helps nobody here in wheat country gives a sh*t. Except those soccer moms from suburbia, but that’s another story.

    Just keep in mind “avoid stupid people, places, or activities” when you OC. If you think OC it would just advertise that you’ve a gun to rob you for, you probably shouldn’t be in that area.

    • Facts/story or it didn’t happen. Heck, I stopped a robbery, fixed my roof and met the President (didn’t like him). /sarcasm off

      Really, if you did something good publish it, all that info is good info. There is a website dedicated to this. http://gunssavelives.net/

  9. Apropos: “A bad guy shooting a good guy without warning is the good guy’s worst nightmare.”

    All depends on the propensity of the BG to upgrade from being in the robbery business to being in the murder business. Most BGs want to remain merely in the robbery biz. Those who would happily change businesses are gang-banging “put a cap in yo’ ass” types. If you have encountered this latter type, you have either gotten yourself into a situation that you should have avoided or the fates are not smiling on you. The former is something you can control, the latter is not. Conclusion: studious avoid situations where you might find a depraved killer and opt FOR the deterrence of OC.

  10. I don’t have any trouble with people who like to open carry; but for myself, I believe that the MYSTERY of ‘just how many people are ready to defend themselves?’ is an asset tactically. To illustrate with an extreme, let’s say everyone who carries does so openly. The Bad Guy knows exactly what he is up against. I’d rather not allow him that advantage — better that he wonder whether WHICH OF US, or whether ALL OF US, are ready to respond. For the same reason, I’d like to see every eligible person, whether they intend to carry or not, become licensed to do so per their local laws. Why should the lawmakers who claim to ‘Represent’ us be coddled by a presumption that few citizens believe in self-preservation — defaulting to a Nanny-State view instead?

    • Dan,

      I don’t agree with your premise that criminals keep guessing which citizens are carrying concealed. Think about it this way. How many friends or relatives assume that no one is armed because they cannot see it? How are criminals any different? I have to think that plenty of criminals figure if they cannot see that anyone is armed then no one is armed.

      Or look at it this way. About 1 in 15 adults have concealed carry licenses in my state. Knowing that, I certainly would not attack anyone … the odds are just too great that the person I attack is armed. And yet criminals attack people all the time. Why would criminals do that when a sensible person such as myself would not? I believe it is because criminals are just as prone to wishful thinking as civilian disarmament proponents. If that is the case, concealed carry provides almost no deterrent to criminals.

    • “I believe that the MYSTERY of ‘just how many people are ready to defend themselves?’ is an asset tactically. To illustrate with an extreme, let’s say everyone who carries does so openly. The Bad Guy knows exactly what he is up against. I’d rather not allow him that advantage — better that he wonder whether WHICH OF US, or whether ALL OF US, are ready to respond.”

      The over-all decline of violent crime is the result of the BG questioning how many people are carrying concealed. This leaves only those who are either high or desperate enough to take the chance that it is their lucky day and in a lot of neighborhoods, unfortunately many where a CCW would be an asset, people cannot afford or for other reasons do not carry. Bad Guys know, if nothing else, the demographics of their intended victims. They know that the clerk in a 7-11 or other national chain quickie mart is prohibited from having a pistol in the store and is therefor a soft target. IF BG walks into ANY location he may hope no one is carrying and react badly if he finds out differently. If he walks in and sees his plans for an easy mark are out the window because ANYBODY in the location has a visible firearm he is much more likely to pull his hoodie up tighter, about-face, and get the f out.

      In any public scenario where the BG is not just indifferent to shooting people or getting shot I can’t imagine a situation where the criminal would not beat a very hasty retreat at the sight of a gun as opposed to hoping for the best in a room full of people who might or might not be carrying concealed.

      The only advantage to the Bad Guy in a place where he sees an open carry pistol is that he has the chance to GTFO before his day goes to hell. The other advantage is to the Good guy who at that point no longer has to decide if he should take the life-changing risk of pulling his weapon from concealment and taking a shot or being shot. The fact that the BG saw his gun and decided to beat feet rather than risk an armed confrontation seems like a win-win all around, except for the next place the BG goes (much more cautiously this time) to attempt his nefarious deeds.

    • Exactly! Most people assume a cop methinks. Or close enough to one, haha. So just don’t be an ass and you’re probably fine.

  11. How many times have you heard of a criminal trying to rape or rob a police officer on duty? I have never heard of a single instance. And yet police officers openly carry their sidearms everywhere.

    I found two recent examples (both in 2009) of a criminal shooting police officers preemptively, and neither example was a random crime. A criminal in Lakewood, Washington executed four officers in a cafe. And a criminal in Oakland, California, killed two officers who pulled him over for a traffic stop … and then killed two more officers in the S.W.A.T. unit that tried to capture him later that day.

    In the examples above a criminal was determined to kill their victims who happened to be openly armed police officers. If a criminal’s only objective is to kill you, they will quite likely succeed because we cannot possibly see everything that is happening in all directions at all times.

    Fortunately, in most violent crimes, the criminal’s primary goal is to get something from you that they want, not kill you. That doesn’t mean that murder is off the table. It just means that they will seek the easiest and weakest victim they can find. And an armed victim is neither easy nor weak. Once again I believe both concealed and open carry can have advantages in different situations. That is up to the individual to evaluate and decide.

    • Important note: open carry does provide four advantages over concealed carry.
      (1) You can carry a full size handgun in as large a caliber with as long a barrel and with as many rounds as you want. Full size handguns reduce felt recoil which enables faster and more accurate follow-up shots.
      (2) You will draw properly almost every time because there is no chance that you fail to grab an over garment and there is almost no chance that an over garment snags your handgun upon drawing.
      (3) You will draw faster because there is no over garment to remove.
      (4) Your weak hand is available to strike, block, or push back an attacker because you don’t need it move your over garment out of the way of your handgun.

      Combined, these are considerable advantages.

      • Good points. A full-size handgun can be concealed. I’ve been carrying an M9 for quite some time and was never spotted. The other points of cloting being in the way are valid though, there’s less between you and the gun.

        • Ron,

          It can be next to impossible to conceal a full size handgun with many body shapes and in common clothing situations. For example it is very difficult for many people who like to wear shorts and t-shirts during the summer. Many women have body shapes and clothing preferences that make it all but impossible to conceal a full size handgun as well.

          Open carry eliminates those problems.

    • I’d submit that the uniform of a police officer identifies them, and creates the target, far more than the openly carried gun. YMMV.

  12. “Why show all your cards?” Indeed. I’ve heard it said that discretion is the better part of valor. But one thing I’d like to get off my chest – if you are OCing, please don’t swagger.

    • In many games of poker most of your cads are visible face-up on the table. Your opponents have a pretty good idea of whether they should attack you or not based on this and if your hand looks strong enough they will just fold rather than take the risk. Your other advantage is that you have some hidden cards that they cannot predict and I submit that this is the same as a BG wondering if you will actually draw your weapon and put his lights out.

      If he can’t see your cards, as in 5 card draw, for example, he must base his decisions on the perceived strength of his own hand with only guesses as to what you or anyone else might have. A BG with a gun in public who does not see any opposition would have the mindset that he was holding the aces. A BG that sees another strong hand in the game would probably re-assess his odds and fold. JMO.

      • I’ve tried the OC thing in a couple known gun-friendly areas. I can’t imagine no one noticed a full size stainless .357 on the hip, but no acted like they noticed or cared. However, like the gentleman with 5 cards face up and two cards down, I also had an LCR in the pocket. I’m more concerned about a snatch-and-run attempt than a shoot-first type thug. But I definitely feel more anonymous with straght up CC.

  13. We do a lot of State Park camping although we’ve recently upgraded to a defensible hard shell RV.
    A tent is pretty vulnerable. So walking around the tent camp site with a visible sidearm (XD-40) gives a potential attacker knowledge that this site is high risk. The tent offers no protection so the perps risk assessment is our protection before any attempt.
    Now that we’re in the lockable motorhome at night, and not wanting it to be a target for our guns when we are off on a hike, we carry concealed.
    The .40 is bedside the Shield for carry.

    Two scenarios, two solutions

    • Additional, while tent camping carrying concealed allows you to defend yourself during the day with the element of surprise but I have had rangers come up on us in the dark and snap on their lights and a criminal could do the same.
      If during the day you were observed to be armed then that creates a perimeter that a criminal knows may be too risky to attempt to penetrate in the dark. I believe that open deterrence outweighs surprise in that narrow scenario.

      • Wisconsin allows CCWers to carry either way in State Parks. But now that I think of it, the rangers may want sneak up on campers to see if they are youngster smokn’ pot, but maybe I should warn them not sneak up on Site #9 nor Site #40 and startle campers w/ guns. Just sayn’.

        • No-one should ever begin shooting just because they are “startled”. If you don’t have an identified threat, you should even be drawing, open carry OR concealed.

  14. Open carry at home; no where else. Deterrence comes from the fat that predators don’t know who is armed. Open carry simply invites more problems; keep your gun concealed.

  15. Food for thougth: November 1999 I was carjacked at gunpoint while off duty by a dude (fresh out of prison) who was armed with a S&W .45 Long Colt…cocked. He stepped out from behind a parked van as soon I exited my brand new truck and had the drop on me in an instant. I had not seen him hiding behind the van that was parked 2 empty spaces away.

    I was carrying a Kimber Ultra Carry .45 in my right front pocket. I have been forever grateful for two things. (1) I was not open carrying a weapon (2) My police identification was not in my wallet, but carried separately. I gave the dude my wallet and keys and he politely told me to “Get out of my way Mother F**ker” while he pointed that cannon at my gut. I obliged him and took off running. I was then able to duck behind a parked car and open fire as he was backing up in my truck.

    One other thought: That night my spare mag for the Kimber was in my truck console and completely useless to me. Thankfully I fired only six of the available eight rounds to end the situation..I now carry a Ruger LC9 with a spare mag on my belt when off…it’s a lilttle smaller and lighter…but my spare mag is ALWAYS on me. YMMV

  16. I know what you mean. But the fact that we are discussing this sheds light on an important consideration:

    This is all just academic.

    Carry the way you feel comfortable and for all the right, PERSONAL reasons. If you don’t carry the way you feel is best, you’re at a personal disadvantage.

  17. In a perfect world we would have nationwide constitutional carry. You decide if you oc or cc or both that day.

    But we don’t live in a perfect world. Sucks the big one.

  18. Friggin’ website ate my comment earlier when I posted it mobile, so here goes again.

    There is no element of surprise or striking from concealment when you are carrying concealed. None. Absolutely zero. That is a false argument.

    When you are striking from cover, from concealment, or using an element of surprise, YOU are initiating the attack. YOU are an aggressor. It is not a defensive action from your part anymore, it is now an offensive one. Period. There is no “drawing from concealment”, that’s complete BS.

    When you are attacked and forced to draw, you are responding to a threat. You no longer have the element of surprise.

    • I’ve taken to usually copying my comments before sending them, of late anyway. More often than not, a disappeared post contains something the overly-tuned spam filter THINKS is offensive. Sometimes I have to re-word the thing to get it through.

      It really DOES need to be fixed, y’all heah? I find it objects to some of the most harmless things at times.

  19. back in the 1990’s, open carry was unheard of in most places. Everyone was arguing about concealed carry.

    Now concealed carry is a given and people are arguing about open carry.

    Keep the overall progress on track.

    In Michigan we are not past open carry and are in the phase of “just open carry a handgun, not a long gun”.

    • This is true and disappointing, with the registry change we have had for handguns it seems we have lost the “loop hole” of the “Michigan pistol” in so far as I have been informed.

      • The Michigan Pistol was nonsense anyway, why register any more guns than you would need to. You can ignore Michigan pistol registration if you meet the exception found in MCL 28.432(f).

        • So my possession of a cpl means I do not need to register my pistols? Wouldn’t this be an exemption for out of state carriers?

  20. It is honest to open carry.

    I openly carry my 1911 and it has brought up interesting conversations. Then I got my S&W 500 and carry both, because well I am sure that the .500 even with the HP rounds would go though a person. It is not difficult to carry the .500 and the holster we made needs a modification and then it will be good for bear country.

  21. I will not open carry in public, although it’s legal here. Around the house I can see a possible, slight advantage. However, I don’t think answering the door OC so whoever it is can note I have guns for future burglary reference is an upside, though.
    In public, it scares people in most states. AZ no sweat, they’ve been OC for over 100 years. In AL, it scares ME! After many years in politics I’ve found that “In-your-face” is the LEAST likely way to persuade people to your side.
    My main reasons against OC are these: 1. I can’t count on the chance that the thug who sees me OC will be cowed. He may be determined to copy his psychotic hero from the latest Tarantino flick. And what if he has unannounced confederates? YES! I will always believe it’s a “Shoot me first!” sign.
    2.Neither I, nor 99% of the armed intelligentsia (except those who are cops) have had professional handgun retention training. And most of us don’t have even a thumbreak strap on our holsters, let alone a level 2 or 3 security rig. Call me paranoid, but as a prosecutor and criminal defense lawyer, I believe there’s a certain part of the population that are stupid, high, or desperate enough to grab your gat while your attention is on entering your PIN at Kroger’s. And don’t give me that garbage that your on alert for that grab 100% of the time (refer to prior comment about gun retention class and secure holster).
    3. Consider that before the general use of Level II, then Level III holsters, HALF of all murdered cops were killed with their own guns. Since then that rate has plummeted, but they’re ALSO taught emergency retention skills.
    4. Forget felons, what about the drunk macho type who thinks your exposed pistol is a great excuse to show off for his girlfriend and tries to get you to fight? Al a ” Think that gun makes you tough, huh? Let’s see how tough you are!” Or an autistic or totally undisciplined child succumbs to his
    curious fascination for your Python as you stand in line at MacDonald’s? What about the stupid teenager that can’t resist temptation when you’re both at the gas pumps?
    5. Sorry, but I’ve carried concealed every day for 28 years. I like it. It works for me. It ain’t broke so I won’t fix it. I won’t deny the right of OC to others, but so far, I haven’t seen a GOOD reason for it.

    • I wouldn’t call open carry “in your face”.

      It’s because of open carry that it is legal to conceal carry into any place that serve alcohol in Virginia.

      It’s because of open carry that people are no longer arrested in Connecticut for “accidental exposure”.

      It’s because of open carry in schools and bars in Michigan that momentum is building to repeal no CCW zones.

    • Are people carrying signs, or books, or talking in public also being “in your face”? Are you scared of them as well? Do you have citations to back up your claims?

  22. The argument that if the bad guy sees you’re armed he won’t rob has two huge flaws.

    First, that this whole thing presumes the bad guy sees you before he reveals himself as the bad guy, and that’s a real disadvantage for you. He then has way more information on the scenario and you have nothing. He knows what he has to deal with and you don’t even know he exists. He still has control of what happens next, and you are first on his mind. If he happens to decide to proceed, he’s got a huge advantage. How dissuading is that circumstance? I’d rather the cash register be first in his mind. I’d rather him be worried about everyone than fixated on me.

    Second, it presumes this moralistic myth that “criminals are irrational cowards” is based in truth. It’s not. Him being dissuaded depends a whole lot more on how much he needs what it is he’s willing to kill to get. You can’t assume that crime is irrational cowards. This is what they tell you in church and school to try to pre-sour kids on the idea of crime. It’s not a fact. Criminals are rational actors and not usually cowards.

    So when you open carry you are pretty much a “known factor” to the bad guy and everything about the bad guy is still an unknown factor to you. The bad guy is still making all of the decisions about what’s going to happen next based on what he wants or needs and he’s doing it rationally. He’s probably not a coward, rather his success and reputation in his lifestyle depend on his ruthlessness. He’s in control of the situation, and the ability to wait for the best time for YOU to take control of the situation you have given up. The moment when you decide you have an opportunity to take him out, when the time is best for you to do it. Open carry and you can only save yourself defensively, concealed you give yourself the opportunity to go on the offense.

    Frankly, if you really needed something would someone open carrying but oblivious to you or your motives stop you? It wouldn’t stop me if I had a real need, a real goal. I wait for an opportunity to shoot the idiot in the back.

  23. When the CCW only was enacted in Florida, crime rates began to fall, noticeably.
    Criminals may not be Hahvahd grads, but they’re not entirely stupid either. If you
    want to know what the gun laws are in your state, ask a criminal,…they’ll know.
    There life depends on knowing what the risk to reward ratios are for a given area.
    Just knowing that Floridian’s were now allowed to arm themselves, violent crimes
    that are likely to provoke an armed response, like rape and assault, decreased.
    The deterrence of open carry was not a factor here. That fact that we could carry
    concealed, did. About that deterrence factor…..
    If a bad guy sees a person open carrying, all he needs is to wait for them to leave.
    Open carry can be a temporary deterrence, because the BG can see who’s armed.
    With concealed carry though, everybody he sees in the store, or passes by in the
    street could be armed. They’ll never know who’s carrying….until Bang!….the end.

    I hate to be indelicate, but LEO’s who open carry as a matter of daily routine, have,
    do, and will continue to drop their guns in the heat of the moment. Shit happens,
    even to the police. I’ve heard stories of Glock’s squirting out of the hands of LEO’s
    because their hands were soaking with nervous sweat. Rock climbers carry chalk
    bags to dry their sweaty hands when making difficult ascents. Easy access doesn’t
    necessarily guarantee superior performance. There are hundreds of YouTube’s
    out there of people drawing with great alacrity from a concealed carry position.

    What makes me ponder, is why people open carry in the first place, when they
    can choose to carry concealed? Do they really need to, or do they just want to?
    I think that the element of not knowing; which is still one of man’s greatest fears,
    is a better deterrent than laying all your cards on the table for everyone to see.
    Why give your hand away if you don’t need to? Surprise, not speed, may be
    your biggest advantage when it counts most.

    • “They’ll never know who’s carrying….until Bang!….the end.”

      Well I only speak for myself, but I don’t carry to be a vigilante hero. I would be perfectly content if the bad guy waits until I’m clear to initiate any violent action. As to why OC in the first place? Because people will not learn to accept firearms if they never see a normal person carrying. Prior to purchasing my first firearm a few months ago I went my entire life assuming no one around me was armed except police. I understand people who value the probable, tactical advantage of CC, but there’s no statistical proof that I as an open carrier am at a significant risk in comparison.

  24. That biggest bad guy in the world is a supposed Harvard Law school grad, and he lives in a very large White House.I beg to differ the Harvard Law school thing but he is a bad guy.

  25. I live in Arizona, and have open carried for over twenty years. Nobody has ever shot me, the Police don’t stop me.
    The last time I was pulled over, the Officer asked if I had a gun, and when informed that I did, simply said, “Well, just don’t shoot me and we’ll be fine.” The Police out here Get It.
    I know of at least three times that the mere sight of my gun has prevented trouble before it even started.
    The vast majority of the public at large don’t have a problem with guns in public, either. Most, (99.9%), of the people that comment on my gun are highly in favor of my carrying it.

  26. Why open carry? Because here in Texas it gets to be over 100 degrees most days during the summer. I am not 6’5″ tall, so the idea of CC with a full size elephant killer is laughable. Certainly I can, and do, CC my Kimber Ultra Carry, but it gets mighty uncomfortable in the summer. I don’t like to wear T-shirts that fit like a tent, so that option is out, and I look slightly out of place (even here) wearing a vest in summer. Open carry would fix all of that.

  27. I’m sure it’s been said but it bears repeating; Concealed carry offers across the board deterrence even when no one in a location appears to be armed. I’m not opposed to open carry but I don’t generally practice it outside of certain venues in which it’s the normal accepted way of things by all those with the privilege to be present.

    As I go about my business I spot concealed carriers at least 2x per week and suspect many more that I’m unable to confirm. It’s a game with me which also makes me wonder how many times my weapon has been spotted by an alert person. Translated into BG, they’ve got to worry that the people they have confirmed are carrying aren’t the tip of an armed iceberg ready to chill them as soon as they try to take down the register or hold someone up at the ATM.

    On the other hand, if there were more open carriers salted among those who carry concealed the deterrence effect ought to be more front and center for the BGs. The perfect deterrence storm is when you’ve seen so many people come and go openly armed that you have to assume at least the same number are carrying concealed.

    Final thought: What are the statistics on open carriers being shot without confrontation preceding it? I’m going to go out on a limb and say that if anyone can find a report of a spontaneous shooting of an open carrier for no other reason that to facilitate some other crime in the vicinity it will be the unique exception that proves the rule; BGs aren’t interested in tactical superiority, they want what ever it is they want and they don’t want to have to try very hard to get it. A gun fight is always considered ‘hard’ except for the type of banger who is so dimwitted, stoned or psychotic that they were going to go off murdering people at the drop of a hat anyway.

    I suppose what I’m saying is that the categories aren’t 1. Those deterred by the sight of a gun & 2. Those who will simply shoot the armed person and continue the crime.

    It’s more like 99% deterrence and .001 percent homicidal maniac with about the same percentage change of being encountered on that one night he decided to go mass murdering people.

    No one who started out planning a liquor store holdup goes homicidal when they see an openly armed citizen in the store. Either they’re pros, and simple wait for that customer to leave, or they panic and leave, opting for another day, another target, something besides cold blooded murder with a side of potential gun fight.

    Only the rarest of maniac opts to commit a homicide as a premeditated first step in a hold up. God help you if you ever meet that one. . .

  28. One point of clarification: The deterrent value of carrying is the public knowledge that it is legal, and is being exercised. To prove the point, the flood of states that now have “shall issue” carry laws viz CCW have seen their crime rates plummet. It is the criminals’ knowledge that more people are legally armed, not actually SEEING the guns, that is the proven deterrent.

  29. “The open carrier will get shot first….”

    Well, except for the complete lack of data, yeah, sure. Whutevar….

  30. When do we start feeling guilty for all the people who get robbed because we made the bad guy slide on over to the next vic? I’d add a smiley, but, you know… the question does have a serious side.

    • Personally, I’d say your first and foremost job is to protect your own life, family, and property, period. Once he’s gone, he’s not your problem any more.

      Lessee – You brandish, the perp turns and runs. You watch the perp go next door and bash it in. A few seconds (or minutes) later you hear your neighbor yelling “HELP!” What would you do? How about if after hearing him yell “HELP!”, you hear a shot?

      Is discretion the better part of valor? I ass-u-me that you’ve already called the gendarmes. Would it be advisable to go over and try to get the drop at the perp? Do you inform the 911 you’re about to do that and say please don’t shoot me when you get here? Do you go in your neighbor’s front door and shoot the perp in the back?

      Not to mention the whole legal rats’ nest around that sort of thing? You know, “Good Samaritan” laws and all that?

  31. I suspect we’re relying on the very logic we condemn. Tell me how “open carrying gets you shot” logically differs from “giving people conceal-carry licenses causes gunfights in the streets.” Both theories seem blissfully unencumbered by any need for pesky evidence.

  32. I think this article makes some good points but by and large I agree with itstactical

    More guns theoretically leading to less crime (mostly, I don’t think that there is a substantial guns and crime correlation.) by deterrence isn’t that they see the guns, but that the possibility that a certain number of any given crowd might be carrying a gun at any given place makes people hesitate. The criminal can’t predict who it might be or how many there might be in any given place, so many opportunistic crimes will be deterred.

    I don’t think open carry really works in the same way. Simple risk calculation works by evaluating known risks, how surmountable they are with benefits. If a criminal can clearly identify the one person with a gun in a place, easy enough to just target them. (Now, some of this will probably be over a criminals head since they generally aren’t that smart. But most states only have a 1% carry permit rate. If you see a person with a gun, there likely to be the only one there with one. Obvious concentrations differ depending on the place.)

    Another way Open Carry is not a good tactical option is a hostage situation or a organized attack. Think Westgate mall. The first thing they’re going to do is eliminate the most dangerous people (Chechens did this in the Beslan school siege. They rounded up the most able bodied of the hostages and separated/executed them.) If you are openly carrying a gun, I guarantee that will include you. Concealed Carry allows you to lay low and assess the threat until there’s a better chance to make your move in such a situation.

    Obviously, that is one of the less likely situations but I think that in a majority of circumstances concealed carry provides the tactical option for most situations. I think its far more likely that a criminal will target a person openly carrying than being deterred by it precisely for the reason itstactical says, that it takes away the advantage of surprise. By making (or appearing to make) the number of threats in a crowd known, it might make a criminal more likely to engage. Especially depending the exact dysfunction of the criminal, if they find it more fun to target a “hard-er” target you only draw more risk on yourself.

  33. In the last couple of days Metro police officers in Johannesburg have openly been attacked and shot, targeted for their firearms. Police officers who live in unsavoury areas of Johannesburg have also been attacked and killed by citizens who know they have handguns and would like to appropriate them. That said, the current skill-set of the police in SA leaves a great deal to be desired, as anyone who lives here can attest to. I CC and have managed to survive four situations by taking measures ( 1 by using a folder, 2 by drawing and using my firearm and another where drawing my firearm on two knife-wielding teenagers who wanted to take my laptop at a bus stop made them run). Shooting them in the back is illegal here.

  34. And what’s it to you if I open carry? Because it’s really none of your business. This article reflects your opinion of what could happen and your personal belief of how you think certain things can be avoided.

    The situation with cops interrogating open carriers is rapidly and legally ending especially in states like Georgia, where it is illegal for a cop or anyone else to stop and inquire about a person’s gun or carry license. Open carry is quickly becoming a lifestyle choice and fashion accessory with an incidental deterrent effect on criminals. So, if you don’t like it don’t do it but stop presuming to tell me and others who are so inclined what we should or should not be doing, this is still America and there are a few things left that we can choose to do and open carry is one of them.

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