In the latest edition of Guns magazine, Massad Ayoob offer some cautionary tales of open carry gone wrong. They’re not very many and they’re not very convincing. The gun guru only provides one clear example of a gun snatch from an average open carrier. The bad guy shot and killed him with his own gun. That said, the owner chased the gun thief. While Mas studiously avoids taking a position on open carry, I’m all for it. Open carry is a deterrent that normalizes guns, which protects our gun rights. Here are three ways to limit the danger associated with open carry . . .
1. Don’t do it all the time
There’s a time and a place for open carry. I’m not speaking here of your legal rights. I mean in terms of when it’s dangerous for you to do so.
Walking down main street in broad daylight? Go for it. Your local grocery store or Target? No problem. The biggest “threat” you face in these sorts of situations: an unpleasant encounter with a gun control advocate or curious cops. Walk away from the former, be respectful and careful with the latter.
Open carry requires more situational awareness than concealed carry, but that’s a good thing, not a bad thing. The decision to open carry becomes more problematic in any place where you encounter stupid people in stupid places doing stupid things. If you open carrying in or around a bar (where it’s legal to do so). Alcohol makes a lot of people stupid. Aggressive. Confrontational. In that situation, why not pull your shirt over your gun?
If you’re walking down a dimly lit street to a dimly lit parking lot, or walking the dog at night, you may or may not want to conceal your firearm. It’s judgment call that depends on a lot of factors (e.g., how many and what sort of people are around you). But again, you always have the option of not open carrying. Sure you may print like the New York Times – especially with retention holster – but that may one the safer course of action. Speaking of which . . .
2. Use a retention holster
This is a no-brainer. Why not use a retention holster? Snatching a gun from a Level 2 retention holster (as above) is nearly impossible. In fact, one of open carry’s biggest advantages is your ability to use a retention holster – which are usually about as easy to conceal as a small skateboard.
To increase your safety, it’s a good idea to master some open hand skills to counter a gun grab. Nothing fancy required, just a few quick, decisive moves. Remembering that anyone who tries to grab your gun can be assumed to be trying to kill you. You are well within your rights to immediately draw your gun once you secure enough space/time to do so. And shoot your attacker in self-defense if needs be.
3. Carry a spare gun
Open carrying a firearm frees up your pocket and or waistband for a second gun. You can prepare for the possibility of an open carry gun grab by carrying a second gun. Depending on which backup gun you choose and how you carry it, a spare gun can be a [literal] pain in the ass, but the extra protection might be well worth the discomfort.
Mr. Ayoob’s article contains an example of a disarmed open carrying gun store owner who used a hidden back-up gun to save his life. Obviously, a gun store owner has a lot more to worry about than your average open carrier. But it’s an undeniable fact that open carry exposes a practitioner to more danger of a gun grab than a concealed carrier. I balance that against the aforementioned deterrent effect, but you can limit that danger by taking one or more of these steps.