“When I was in Washington DC, that’s when Virginia first passed its concealed carry into law and we in law enforcement thought, ‘Oh man, it’s going to be terrible, it’s going to be the wild west, agg assaults and murders are going to go up.’ There wasn’t a blip on the radar.” That’s San Antonio Police Chief William McManus explaining [via foxsanantonio.com] his lack of tsuris regarding Texas’ forthcoming move to open carry. But there’s more to open carry than simply nothing bad happening (Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America’s worst non-nightmare). As huffingtonpost.com writer H. A. Goodman suggested, open carry could act as a deterrent against police “over-zealousness.” I think that’s right. When I opened carried in Rhode Island . . .

The cops didn’t give me a second glance. They assumed I was a cop. The ones who didn’t, the cops who looked at me like I had pin lice on my eyebrows, had no taste for confrontation. OK, I’m white, clean-shaven and dressed like a preppie. But it’s still a data point. I like to think that a black man open carrying in an open carry state would get the same respect. If not initially, then eventually.

I also assume that if the cops hadn’t assumed I was a cop, and I lived in a state where open carry was commonly practiced, the police would assume that I was a law-abiding citizen. What criminal would openly carry a firearm? They carry covertly, as they have since guns were invented, to maintain stealth and the element of surprise. So Goodman’s right. In the sense that open carry could help chill right-thinking po-po; it could de-escalate cop – civilian tension.

Common sense (if not John Lott-like statistical analysis) says open carry is a deterrent. The more law-abiding citizens openly carrying in a location the less likely a criminal attack. If open carry deters crime cops will have less crime to fight. Which should put them in a better mood. And one more thing: open carriers can help cops in a crisis. Yes, armed citizens have helped cops in gunfights.

I’ve been putting this off to last, but there’s no getting around it. If cops know – not suspect – that a civilian is armed they’re going to think, somewhere in their mind, that the civilian might shoot them if they over-step their authority. And by that I mean rape or assault, amongst other equally heinous things. While the possibility that they could be shot is probably in their mind already, open carry makes the threat more tangible. You know that quote about an armed society being a polite society. Like that. Which is no bad thing, IMHO.

So, what say you? Do you think the confrontation at the top of this post would have gone better or worse if the gentleman at the receiving end of the officer’s punch would have been open carrying a firearm? Would he have been less likely to get into an argument with the cops?

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57 Responses to One Solution to Police Brutality: Open Carry

  1. If you are worried about a cop willing to overstep his authority and brutalize you what makes you think he won’t just shoot you and point to the fact that you are armed as a reason?

    • I am willing to accept that possibility, but the cop involved had better be ready to spend the rest of his life in prison for premeditated murder of a law-abiding citizen. That is what you suggest. What do you suppose would happen to me if I shot a cop dead because he was wearing a badge?

      • Here’s the problem: Cops have flat out murdered people who were both unarmed and complying with instructions and walked. I know for a fact that carrying a gun means I can be killed at any time by a cop. It’s a fact I am willing to live with.

        • You can be killed at any time by a criminal, that may also be a cop. However, would you rather not have any way to fight back or just lay down a wait for the kill shot.
          There are no 100% safe solutions, except to already be dead and it not matter.

        • I forget the statistics and don’t want to look them up, but a person his much more likely to be killed by a cop.

    • Cops as a whole are terrible shots, I would think they would be reluctant to start a gunfight they will probably lose.

      • This.

        I’m at the left tail of the TTAG audience in terms of range time and I’m still well above typical police qualification requirements.

    • I think I is much more likely that a cop would draw his weapon and disarm you before doing anything else. If you resisted in any way, bang, justifiable shooting. I, personally, will never OC. If you want to live into old age, don’t be stupid (situational awareness), don’t be a hero, and don’t give them a reason (OC, being places and doing things you ought not). By all means, CC, 24/7, stay under the radar, don’t stick out like a sore thumb, in all facets of life, or you will attract the wrong kind of attention. I guarantee it.

      • Your first sentence is what I’m thinking. Any officer who has enough evidence to detain- or is willing to make enough evidence up, in the case of the situation presented- can and will disarm someone suspected of a crime. I can see no scenario where open carry of a gun would stop a ‘bad leo’ from doing bad things in the context supplied.

        • “I can see no scenario where open carry of a gun would stop a ‘bad leo’ from doing bad things in the context supplied.”

          Remember, the first priority of any LEO nowadays is “going home safe.” Even being a complete thug is subservient to that goal.

          The scenario where the carrier can return effective fire before being incapacitated or fully acknowledging his (corrupted and extralegal) authority.

          Why would a corrupt or abusive LEO want to pick an unnecessary fight with a person who likely has a perfectly clean record, wealth (CCWs aren’t free) and is capable of effective return fire? He’s at least going to call back-up first.

    • Because such a copbis a coward and a bully. That’s why he’s a cop in the first place. Such a cop as you describe would, like bullying, cowardly criminals everywhere, seek out easier, more vulnerable targets, and that means unarmed people.

    • Good the hear. This video was ridiculous. That cop was a thug with a uniform. I don’t care what the other guy said, cops are not paid to get in fights on the job.

    • You weren’t there! You’re not a cop, so you can’t understand! All that officer was trying to do was get home in one piece. Civilians!

      • Sarcasm? I know that your own skin is the most important thing to you but cops aren’t hired to get home in one piece. They are hired to do the right thing, to serve and protect. If all they wanted to go was get home in once piece then they should just CC and keep their heads down.

  2. I’m not sure that OC would change police behavior. A bad cop is going to be bad no matter what. An OCer could get shot just as readily as an unarmed man. But at least an OCer would be less likely to get choked to death.

    • I agree Ralph. Just take a look how California handled OC’ers when the law was unloaded open carry only. The only thing that will reduce the excessive uses of force by police is when they are held to the same standards as the rest of us.

    • One black man staggering out of a liquor store open carrying is not going to stop bad behavior by a cop. 15 black men and women open carrying surrounding the bad cop with guns rather than cell phone cameras will deescalate an irate cop instantly.

  3. In order to get a license to carry you have to go through a pretty good backround check…..cops know this and they now know that their not up against some crazy with a rap sheet.
    When the police ask for an ID you also hand them your carry permit with your license. Life becomes easier for all parties concerned.
    I don’t believe in open carry I don’t think it is necessary. There are enough good concealed carry holsters and pass a law that states if the gun can be accidentally seen NO big deal…..not brandishing .

    • “I don’t believe in (fill in the blank)”.

      America idealism is awesome because we can choose to believe what we want.

      I don’t belive open carry should be unlawful. 😉

      • I don’t believe open carry CAN be unlawful. See, I read this thing one time while I was in high school, called the Constitution….

        • The current supreme court makeup that ruled in the Heller stated in part of the ruling that concealed carry of firearms can be prohibited but by not stating the same of the open carry of firearms implies that they believe that the open carry of firearms is the protected right.

    • Well thank god for those checks and licenses. Hard to imagine how the world turned without them. Oh, don’t forget constitutional carry. The only carry that actually demonstrates you are free and not just a serf enjoying a privilege.

    • Whether or not it’s necessary is NOT the point. It’s our right to do so – the Constitution says so.

      Requiring a license implies that the state sees it as a privilege, and privileges can be revoked. It’s a natural RIGHT.

      Requiring a license will give cops free reign to stop any and all open carriers to check their papers. It’s a waste of time for both the citizen AND the cops who could (and SHOULD) be chasing real bad guys instead.

  4. But the 18year old gentle giant & the NY chokee selling “loosies” would be HIGHLY unlikely candidates for legal open carry. I’d love to open carry(in Illinois) but yeah cops may think I’m a guard or cop. Part of being white and over60.Complicating it would be my beautiful black wife and/or caramel colored sons. A##wipe cops are gonna’ be a##wipes…

  5. I’v OC’d here in New Mexico for about seven years. But I dress business casual or boots, jeans and cowboy hat.

    No problems with the local PD or the citizenry.

    But a guy I spoke to a while back said he was a law abiding OC’er that the cops would stop and hassle. But he was dressed in the local Vato gang banger attire. Go figure.

    Just because a person dresses like a criminal doesn’t mean he is one. But the odds are higher that if you do dress like a gang banger, the cops will assume you are until proven otherwise.

      • Well, you can’t have it both ways. If a person dresses in the attire of what the culture recognizes as a criminal, they mostly do it for one reason.

        Either they are a criminal and they want to scare people or they dress like a criminal even though they aren’t because they want to scare people.

        So you reap what you sow. You scare the populace and you get extra attention from the police.

        Sorry, I look at people that complain about the natural order of things as some one that complains about the rain because they forgot to bring their umbrella.

        • I like it! Another fine excuse to obtain a BBQ gun and holster, designed for showing off, once TX gets that (OC) passed!

  6. The best way to not get shot or choked by the police is don’t get noticed, run away if you are and if you are cornered Hands Hoch! It doesn’t guarantee that you won’t get brutalized or shot but it does reduce odds. Oh yeah don’t punch the cop out and try to grab his weapon.

    • Yup, don’t try to beat up a cop and grab his weapon. Don’t make a furtive movement. And don’t walk down the stairs. And don’t try to make a cell phone call. Damn, there sure are a lot of “don’ts” in Copland.

      • Sometime I wonder about you. Are you elaborating on remaining risk or do you think I haven’t figured out that cops can be jumpy, rash, angry or have other reasons for applying excessive force?

      • This x 1000. Also, you have to call them “sir” and essentially cower in fear. Which is total crap. Having a crappy attitude or not kissing ass isn’t a crime and shouldn’t impact how the cop treats me even 1%.

        • Umm, no. Like I’ve said. I’ve OC’d for over seven years here in New Mexico. Much of the time in Albuquerque. When a cop notices that I’m carrying a gun, most of the time we just nod at each other and just say good day, then we go on about our business.

          The most interaction was when a cop asked what model of gun I was carrying and then he mentioned how he supports the second amendment.

          So there is no need to be more than just your average level of mutual courtesy and respect that most civilized people give to each other.

    • I believe it was the esteemed Mr. Rock who said “if the cops need to chase you they’re bringing an ass-whuppin with them.”

  7. How about all the videos that we have seen where police respond to calls of a “man with a gun” and conduct a totally unjustified/illegal felony stop with guns drawn? In those cases the cops grossly overreacted to the individual who was carrying an openly visible handgun or long gun … a lawful activity.

    Keep in mind, however, that those encounters usually resulted in lawsuits where the police lost and you rarely see that sort of reaction any more in jurisdictions where open carry is legal.

    I think police departments have to lose more lawsuits and the officers who assault/batter/kill innocent victims have to go to prison. That would be a huge step toward minimizing rogue cops.

    Don’t get me wrong: I am an open carry proponent and frequently do it myself. All I am saying is that I don’t see open carry doing much to prevent rogue cops from stepping over the line — legally speaking.

    • “I think police departments have to lose more lawsuits and the officers who assault/batter/kill innocent victims have to go to prison. That would be a huge step toward minimizing rogue cops.”

      Excellent point.

      We are only now just beginning to train L.E. that video recording their actions isn’t illegal.

      Cops consume the mass media at roughly the same rate as the rest of us. We should invest in a media campaign along the lines of “Recording Police activity is NOT a crime”

      Billboards, TV spots, etc.

      I’m personally convinced the end result will be cameras on cops. When police KNOW video of their actions is a likelihood, (either citizen or LE) it will curb a lot of the BS.

      • Including false claims of BS. When we have conflicting stories of what happened between a cop and a citizen, take sworn statements from each, then break out the videos from all sources. Might want to do it in a Grand Jury forum, so the liar can be indicted for perjury on the spot. Watch the BS disappear completely, almost instantly. Any cops who resign as a result, we did not need, they are thugs.

    • The only thing that lawsuits result in seems to be tax dollars going from people (ie city) to people. Only crooked police going to jail will induce others not to do the same things.

  8. It works. Compare the cops turning the hoses on protesting blacks vs the cops staying way back while the Panthers marched. Look at all the heads smashed during the 99% mess and the calm and quiet at the Bundy Ranch.

    Cops are cowards and when faced with a real threat of death they’d rather choke to death a guy selling loosies and “get home safe” than confront you. At a ratio of 2,000 to 1 they don’t have the numbers to walk the streets in formation, where their balls come from. They’ll be forced to be polite and play fair which shouldnt be a problem for the so-called good cops anyway so let’s see just how many good cops are actually out there.

  9. Be careful about painting police with a very broad paint brush. There are vast differences between different police officers and different departments across the US. For example, in Arizona I can OC, and the only contact with police I expect is a police officer asking my opinion about the Sig p320 I carry. In Portland Oregon, near where I used to live, I could face a disturbing the peace arrest, and at the very least, I could be starring down the barrel of a Glock. If the police confront you, follow their orders. You have no idea what they are responding to. They could be responding to a shots fired call or a nearby robbery. If they are making a mistake, the courts are the best place to fight them. If they are harassing you simply because you are OC’ing, file a formal complaint and/or sue them. If their department has to expend lots of money and resources to investigate and challenge a lot of complaints, they will eventually change their policy on responding to an OC event. If an officer knows that there will be a ton of paperwork that will follow every encounter with a peaceful OC’er, he is not going to do it.

    • That is something to think about. All the talk of cowards and thugs and violent this or that pale in comparison to a mountain of paperwork every time. If a radar officer giving speeding tickets all day had to do 2 hours of paperwork for each ticket before he goes home at night, tickets for less than double the speed limit would disappear. Same for any other offense you want to name. Arrests for violent crimes already carry that paperwork, but the paperwork is worthwhile to get the slime off the street.

  10. What happened to this blog? It used to be fair and honest. Now it’s nothing but ‘all cops are thugs looking to kill’ crap. It started as ‘each person is responsible for their own actions and not a representation of the whole’ on everything. Now it’s ‘all cops are thugs and are just waiting to kill because reasons’ on every police related post. I’m a cop. I have never done anything HALF as shady as you accuse ME of. I have never seen any of my fellow officers do that either.

    Basically, you guys ALL sound Momsdemandaction and Bloomy, just against cops…it’s sad and shows you all fail to do your own research and just look at me in my uniform as a target. You wonder why the cops act that way? If you were treated that way, always, by people you have NO INTEREST in, you’d get twitchy too.

    We have bad cops, and we weed them out all the time. How about we, as a group, decide to stop accosting, harassing, antagonizing, and assaulting cops. Treat them like humans and see how quick the brutality of the VERY DAMN FEW goes away….

    • I’m right with you on individuals responsible for their own actions argument, but I think people are getting tired of hearing these stories of cops using excessive force, raping women children, etc., etc. Almost sounds like we are living in mexico. Consider this, for almost every police brutality case that has occurred there is always at least one by standing officer sometimes six or more who knew what was going on and didn’t say hey man your going overboard. They might be good cops but why aren’t they upholding the law even when their own is the culprit. I think people just don’t trust the police to uphold the law, especially against a their own.

    • OK, I’m one of the guys that has had about a 95% favorable interaction with police officers. Have I gotten traffic tickets? Yep, and I deserved them, so no problem there. I have also had police officers arrive when I called for an ambulance for sick family members, for when my truck was broken into, when my house was robbed. I was even handcuffed once until things got sorted out. My attitude is that police officers are trained to use the equipment they carry to hurt, maim or kill me if I give them a reason to. In my interactions, I try VERY hard to remain calm, talk in a calm rational voice, obey commands quickly without arguing. Think about what an officer goes through when responding to a call. He/she is getting 3rd hand information as to what the situation is, from me to the 911 operator, to the radio dispatcher to him/her and has to wonder if it is accurate or not. SI in my experience, being calm and non-threatening has worked very well for me. The guy jumping up and down screaming, waving his arms and arguing is most likely to get hauled away in cuffs. Of course your mileage may vary

  11. Yeah, the sheriff and his deputies were always respectful when they came to our ranch. Partially because my grandpa was always respectful, but mainly because they knew my uncles were on the roof with their rifles. Never a misunderstanding or false charge of any sorts. They came to serve a warrent on my uncle one day and there was no brutality just handcuffed him and off they went. Being on even ground makes people more civil. No disrespect for the men and women in blue but that sheriff treated everyone else like shit…wonder why?

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