“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?