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I often open carry, especially in the summer when the temperatures make concealed carry a bit more cumbersome. I was open carrying at this Yuma, Arizona gas station when a man approached me. He asked if Arizona is an open carry state. I told him it was, and went on to explain that most states were. He said he was from Colorado, where open carry was forbidden in some cities.

Yes, I said, the Colorado Supreme Court had made a weird decision that Denver could ignore state law. He said the city of Aurora also prohibited open carry.

I told him that not only was Arizona an open carry state, but that we had constitutional carry, too; he didn’t need a permit to carry concealed here if he was over 21.

As he appeared to be about 45 or so, he had a good chuckle over that. I explained that 10 states now have constitutional carry, and that it’s very likely that Missouri will be added in the near future.

The gentleman mentioned that he had seen several people openly carrying in Arizona, and had wondered about it. Now he knows more, and knows where to get more information.

The encounter illustrates an often underrated advantage of open carry: it’s an excellent way to meet interesting, mostly friendly people who are potential allies. About 95 percent of the contacts that I make while openly carrying are amiable and curious, as this gentleman was.

Those who aren’t friendly to open carry are usually silent when they encounter someone openly exercising their right to keep and bear arms. Theses antis may be seething inside, or worse. But again, those on the fence about gun rights are generally curious. Every time they see someone “normal” who’s carrying, it helps inoculate them against anti-gun antipathy.

There’s a vast sea of Second Amendment supporters who aren’t actively involved in the fight to restore and preserve the RKBA. Probably tens of millions of them. If they can be mobilized and educated (they are moving in that direction) they will become an unstoppable political force.

Hillary Clinton needs to keep pushing for more federal restrictions on gun ownership. It will help her cement the support of her gun-hater base of support, and inform the rest of the country about her attitudes toward the Second Amendment. A constitutional republic depends on informed voters. And, I’d argue, open carry.

©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.
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75 Responses to Open Carry Encounters Help Promote Gun Rights

  1. Open carry in colorado everywhere I go, needless to say I don’t visit Denver or aurora very often, I’m a small town kinda guy anyway, had a guy at the public park where I live walk up and tell me he felt safer knowing a perfect stranger out with his daughter was carrying openly, which was strange to me, being tattooed and not exactly the friendliest looking individual, carried a conversation with him all about carry laws and the right to protect yourself and others while the kids played for a couple hours, his wife was very uneasy about the whole encounter, until I introduced myself to her as anything but a hardass.

    • Not only did you illustrate that you, a gun carrier, was not dangerous, but you also illustrated the benefit of being armed. I have a hunch that husband and/or wife will be carrying in about a year or so.

      • But,
        “Every time they see someone “normal” who’s carrying, it helps inoculate them against anti-gun antipathy.”
        … There is nothing “normal” about a pith helmet.

        I am concerned.

        ;-P

  2. California has outlawed open carry so I don’t get to practice it except when hunting for fishing provided firearms aren’t forbidden at the location (state parks they are for instance). That is the one exemption for civilians.
    Now the tyrannical anti-constitution, anti-gun legislature is proposing a law to force concealed carry permits to be “may” issue only for good cause as well. My county sheriff is “shall” issue but I don’t know if he’ll refuse to follow that law which will very likely pass (nearly every anti-gun law does in California). Enjoy open carry and carry one for us.

  3. I have had many conversations like this in the close to 5 years that I have open carried on a daily basis.

    Only one negative encounter where a photo buddy of mine tried to get me arrested by ODNR at a state park. Not much of a buddy lol.

  4. “Those who aren’t friendly to open carry are usually silent when they encounter someone openly exercising their right to keep and bear arms. Theses antis may be seething inside, or worse.”

    Or they may simply think you’re engaged in attention seeking behavior, are fascinated by your own misguided perception that you’re doing something relevant or praiseworthy, and don’t want to waste their time speaking to you. Personally, I think you’re an indiscreet jackass. But if OC makes you happy, go for it.

      • Deceased, actually. But while alive he didn’t affect rose sport glasses, a pith hat, a pedo stache, a man purse, and coordinated 5.11 outfits. Dean’s attention-seeking and self-promotion are beyond belief. His behavior reminds me of the sort of porcine female activists who run around topless screaming about their right to do so. Sure, it’s legal, but damned if I want to see it while I’m eating lunch.

        • i was gonna toss this at the bottom, but i’ll leave it here instead.
          dean is straight amazing. check him out.
          groovy ensemble.

        • Why are you so caught up on what another person chooses to wear or do? As long as this person is happy and not intruding into you rights why not just move along?

        • Troybuilt:

          Why are you so caught up on what another person chooses to say on an Internet comment forum? As long as this person is happy and not intruding into you rights why not just move along?

        • Man, if you think a pith helmet and serious sunglasses are odd attire, you must not have been to Yuma.
          “Of any populated place in the contiguous United States, Yuma is the driest, the sunniest, and the least humid, has the lowest frequency of precipitation and has the highest number of days per year–175–with a daily maximum temperature of 90 °F (32 °C) or higher”
          It may not mesh with your sense of style, but it is a practical outfit for the location.

        • However, John A. Smith, it has not escaped our notice that you are a troll. You are on a pro-gun website calling people ugly names just to start trouble. Therefore, take your ugly troll tactics back to your own house where you can be ugly to your wife and kids and get away with it there for a while. You aren’t contributing in a positive way at all. Thanks, anyway.

    • Notice who is the one casting aspersions here.

      A right unexercised is a right unsecured, so I’ll chalk it up to you exercising his First Amendment right rather than getting all vitriolic.

    • I’m always conflicted and ultimately ambivalent. When I lived in AZ, I OC’ed pretty much everywhere but Snotsdale – it was appropriate. NM, even in ABQ the same.

      Here in the STL – beyond the issues of good taste, it’s just bad freakin’ OPSEC. You are a fvckin’ moron if you are wandering around OC’ing in any neighborhood that really requires your carrying a piece. You will be targeted by the predators, and you will lose that shiny gun you’re so proud of. They will outnumber, or at least take you by surprise. I remember back in the day, the only horrible range in the city limits. People had walked out range bag in hand, still strapped, and had a carload of cultural enrichment waiting outside – ‘cept those cats had their gats in hand. Guess who’s guns they went home with. OC’ing makes you a target in any potentially dangerous situation.

      Bottom line, no matter how folks try to normalize it, it seems to distill down to what’s neighborhood appropriate? If I’m in the boonies, I OC just for convenience, no one looks askance, I’m not the only guy doing it. OTOH, carrying any weapon (short of a sword) in “polite company” as a fashion accessory has always been seen as boorish, at most generous. Ladies and gentleman have almost always hidden their weapons in a civilized environment, for a host of sociological reasons, but in the end, it’s just good manners.

        • Couldn’t give an aeronautical intercourse what either of you think!

        • (thank god) I’m not from Texas, Yeah, do bring an OC sidearm to a black-tie event, even a minor grade one, in Dallas. Tell me how quickly they either disarmed you, or asked you to leave. Western Civilization does have rules of polite behavior.

          Your concealed gun would likely not be a problem.

        • Wow! I can believe OC in Texas, but black tie? I’m not seeing it, better find a state with more sissies.

        • 16V, you mean a bolo tie right – it’s really as after all. Also, I would expect the liberals in Dallas to be disgusted with seeing a firearm (except when the police or military openly carry them).

      • I’ve always wondered about the stats on that. The Navy Yard shooter entered with a shotgun, singled out the security guards to shoot first so he could take their guns.
        Has anyone very done a study on the deterrent effect of OC versus the “”shoot me first” hazard of OC? There are probably not enough incidents for anything conclusive and, of course, that might just be because OC is a deterrent after all. Then again, it is hard to prove OC kept a crime from happening (like proving a negative).

        • It would be fun to see a hard science study to validate what the facts on the ground have been since forever…

          1)When not neighborhood appropriate, OC draws the attention of everyone from nice people, to those who would kill you for that handle, let alone LE…

          2) Walking around in a “bad hood” with a gun displayed, is very much like walking around with clear briefcase full of cash. I don’t care that you have 2 bodyguards, it’s gonna get taken.

      • Sorry 16V, but you once again show yourself to be a voice for being just another one of the herd of disarmed prey.

        There is a reason why the first laws in our country for gun control was against the concealed carry of a firearm, because only a criminal would conceal their capabilities of their use of lethal force.

        There is a reason all the laws of history have outlawed the open carrying of the best defensive tools by the peasants, peons and slaves. Because only free people and the enforcers of the laws would be able to carrying those symbols of a free person.

        And please, your hysterical stories that human predators would first target a person that OC’s before going after the CC person is just that. Hysterical stories made up by those desperate to justify their own cowardly choices in trying to act like they are just another of the disarmed prey.

        Because I have news story after news story of a CC person being targeted by human predators, because the CC person looks like just another disarmed prey. So go ahead and try to show me any type of equivalence of an OC’er being targeted by human predators.

        As for the OC of defensive weapons in “polite” company? It depends on what time period you speak of and in what venue. At one time, out in public, a gentleman would rather be caught naked than be in public without a sword. In the early part of our republic, the same for the OC of a pistol.
        Sure, in a high end formal ball or dinner, the OC of a sword or pistol would not be the norm, but once one left to go back home, we go back to being out in public with a very obvious OC weapon, whether sword or later in history, a pistol.

        • Believe whatever fantasy suits your beliefs, please, go walk around the Southside of Chicagoland, or the Northside of STL with your ideals. Do tell us how that works out for you. I’ll drop you off in either location.

          I know from actual incidents that have happened, your bravado and bullshit are just that.

        • Wow.

          Sorry, Thomas, I’m sure you’re cool and all, but that is the most Tip O’ The Fedora M’lady comment I have ever seen on this site.

        • Sorry 16V, the only one selling a bunch of “bullshit”and “bravado” is you.

          Because from what I understand, OC of a firearm in Chicago is illegal. It is only recently that a law abiding citizen can carry a CC weapon in Chicago, which they have used effectively in defending themselves, as news paper stories have shown.

          So either you are lying about the incidences you are describing, or someone was breaking the law in the OC of a firearm, which would make them a criminal.

          So if some wanna be gang banger punk was breaking the law in the carrying of a firearm, to get some “”street cred” they would not be able to legally defend themselves if they were confronted by a bunch of real gang bangers, because they would go to jail for doing so.

          Which the gang bangers would know, and so they would have little to fear from confronting a punk wanna be open carrying a “piece’ for show, a person they knew as illegally carrying a firearm, unless that person was a real hard core gang member, then the bodies would hit the floor, as the stats show.

          So fess up 16V, you were that punk wanna be gang banger carrying a piece for show, and when you were confronted by some real gang bangers, you gave them that gun so fast, you violated the light barrier.

      • 16V,

        The problem with open carry in the “bad neighborhood” situation that you described is not an openly visible handgun. The problem is that you are an “outsider”, alone, and carrying something of obvious value. Those three factors guarantee your assault.

        Thugs carry “illegal” concealed handguns. To say that a thug in a “bad neighborhood” would assume that some dude walking down the street was unarmed because he was not openly carrying a handgun is not reality. Thugs will assume that any other thug is armed with a handgun.

        • Agreed, same thing would happen if carrying anything of value.

          The bigger question is why go to any of those neighborhoods???

      • If someone wants to open carry, go for it, knock yourself out. I’m not going to fault you.

        At work I wear a police uniform with full gun belt so I don’t have much choice in that matter. It still is more comfortable than an IBA and the M240B I had to tote around for years. For personal use I conceal carry when I am not at work. I prefer retaining the element of surprise and violence of action. The difference in speed between me drawing from concealment IWB or open OWB is maybe a tenth of a second.

        For you guys OCing to make a political statement, god bless you, and I am glad that you are willing to do something I don’t. I carry to protect myself, family, and even innocent bystanders if need be, and for my particular situation I feel that CC gives me an increased ability to do so.

        • Well Tile Floor, there are two primary scenarios a person might encounter in regards in the way of human predators.

          One is where a common criminal is looking for the helpless, the weak, the defenseless and the unaware as prey. If the predator sees a person OC’Ing with good situational awareness, or a person that is CC’ing, which person would you think the predator would first target as potential prey?

          The second scenario would be a mass shooter(s) in public. When I go to a public place, like a restaurant, I’ll come in scanning the interior for any obvious signs of a predator already there or if there is a robbery in progress. If all is well, I’ll sit in back facing the front door, near the emergency exit. So if a mass shooter(s) come in rifle(s) blazing, those near the front door will generally be targeted first, hopefully giving me time to assess the situation, to see if it is something that I can handle myself, or if it is multiple attackers that are showing good team work, where a frontal attack would be suicide, I can bail out the emergency exit, bringing as many people with me out the back.

          Either way, to me, there is more positive benefits to OC’ing, than not.

        • ThomasR. I get it, you’ve never been in a bad ‘hood. The cops don’t like to be there out of a car alone, and they can summon their own crew in a matter of minutes. You? Up against a bunch of folks who care not one whit about you or your life? Only what you have displayed that they can relieve you of?

          As I have said, I’m quite happy to pick you up at Lambert, and take you to North STL, dropping you off to test your theory. I know what will happen, apparently you need to learn.

    • Sorry John A. Smith, but your adhominems against a free citizen practicing a traditional american freedom proves only one thing. That you have fully and with abject submission, have embraced your position as a servant to your masters, the state, and their most visible enforcers, the police.

      You accept the OC of firearms by the police because you have accepted your subservient role to the state and the symbol of authority the OC of firearms by the police have over you.

      The OC by a free citizen frightens you because it proves the subservient role that you have accepted, and you attack that which frightens you; a human being showing visibly their status as a free American citizen. Of course that would frighten you; you that have chosen to be a second class subject, a servant, a peasant, a virtual slave.

      You deserve nothing but pity for the choice you have made.

      • Stop talking to yourself again Cali-Zim. If you aren’t pulling a revolver on some poor dude you started an argument with, you start racist threads on the Internet.

      • Did somebody scare you off the Gray Man thing, Mr. “Not Sure”? You’re such a precious, fragile little troll.

      • Your proud racist self is showing thru, matt. So, when did you walk in a black dude doing your mother? How do you think your skinhead buddies would feel if they found out you were a slav, sub human?

  5. Open carry is not legal in Illinois but fine in nearby Indiana…and NOTHING. Only pu$$ies and fudds get bunched panties. Carry on Dean…

    • Yep pretty much. We have a whole lot of people trying to pontificate how deep down the rabbit hole of enslavement they are. Free men(and women) exercise their rights… carry, on.

    • This!

      Bunch of whine bags afraid of STL. You don’t want to open carry in STL – don’t. Don’t lecture others about your cowardice.

  6. OC is a major OpSec no no for me. If I was a badguy, I would shoot you first just because of the hat, let alone that you were carrying. .. .sorry, call that much attention to yourself brings out the snarky in me..

    • Completely understandable. But being a subject of the Stalinist republic of New Jersey I LOVE to see people OC when I’m out of state. If guns aren’t bisable to the public the only time most people will see them is on CNN which of course is not good. Oc normalizes guns. And while we could argue which is tactically advantageous (my money is actually on CC being better there) without open carry the only narrative I the public is anti gun. So it is nessecary.

    • Agree totally, which is why most police departments have converted to concealed carry non-uniformed patrols. Officer security and all that.

  7. “He said the city of Aurora also prohibited open carry.”

    Someone needs to tell APD that then. Aurora bans OC during certain events but not in general. [See here: https://www.auroragov.org/cms/one.aspx?portalId=1881221&pageId=2037801 ]

    Aurora has a lot of nonsense that’s thrown around. When I first moved there I was told there was an “assault weapons ban” but Gander Mountain and numerous other businesses sold AR’s, AK’s and other “assault weapons” quite openly and with standard mags up until the new laws went into effect. They still sell the rifles but not the mags (unless it’s a “repair” kit).

    I asked at The Firing Line about this back years ago and was assured that rumors of an AWB were greatly exaggerated.

    I OC’ed right in front of police in Aurora with no problems and I’ve seen dozens of other people do the same. No arrests.

    Homie needs to get his shit straight and stop listening to the rumors around Aurora, of which there are a lot.

    • In the Arizona sun, a pith helmet is sensible. Personally, I’d rather go with a planter’s hat as it has more coverage from the sun, but a pith helmet in those circumstances says to me “Smart guy”.

      BTW, I wonder that no one screeched “Guns around gas pumps are unsafe!”

  8. Dressed like that, an OC-ing dude is only preaching to the choir.

    “Every time they see someone “normal” who’s carrying…”

    The lack of irony in this statement is unsettling.

  9. I’m a naturist — so of course I embrace open carry.

    I’ve been delighted in how it opens conversations when folks wearing just hats and sandals encounter me with a gun belt in addition to those items. Of course some of the time it’s crude comments, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised how often people with firmly believe in their right to not wear anything will agree with the right to wear a gun.

  10. Did anyone else get the feeling that Dean looks startlingly like Hunter S Thompson would look if he was still alive? Carry on Dean.

  11. Lived in Phoenix AZ as a kid, saw lots of old guys wearing pith helmets. Think he was just trying to protect from getting cancer. A baseball cap is not going to cut it for shading back of neck. A cowboy hat would serve the same purpose, but a lot of these old guys are transplants from East Coast. Only time they saw a Stetson was on TV programs Gun Smoke or Bonanza. I tend to cut these old guys some slack, most were veterans of Korean or Viet Nam wars.
    Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but hey it’s a free country, we have Rights other counties don’t. You are free to snarc on as you see fit but don’t think he was acting in an “look it me” attitude, just more comfortable for him

  12. Back in the 1940s and 1950s, when a lot of rough looking ex G.I.s and other toughs were riding motorcycles and Hollywood picked up on the whole motorcycle gang badass persona, motorcycles developed a really bad reputation as being transportation for outlaws.

    In the 1960s, when Honda wanted to sell light motorcycles as affordable transportation for regular people, they had to overcome that negative perception. So they cane up with an ad campaign featuring very pleasant, wholesome even, regular people, including housewives, riding their little Hondas around town.

    Their tag line was “You meet the nicest people on a Honda.” I wonder if a similar campaign, either by a gun grouop or a manufacturer, would be effective for open carry. Something like “You meet the nicest people carrying a GLOCK”, and it features a soccer mom exiting a minivan or some such.

    • I remember the print part of that ad campaign. I guess it worked pretty darn well, given the results Honda has achieved.

      • It didn’t hurt that Honda was making a decent product at a good price. At least the Honda dirt bikes. We used and abused those machines and they kept coming back for more.

        And they painted dirt biking as a family friendly activity like boating. Which it was.

    • A good observation, but at the time of the Honda campaign you weren’t going to meet any biker-gang members on a Honda, but today you are likely to meet a gang-banger with a Glock.

  13. The type of firearm open carried does make a difference. One time, my parents were visiting me here in Arizona. My father, who didn’t say much about me concealed carrying (he learned a while back I would ignore his concerns), seemed almost delighted to meet a “cowboy” in Sedona open carrying his revolver. He was asking questions about him and his firearm with great interest. It was kind of funny, really.

    I generally don’t open carry, but sometimes I do. Most people don’t say anything, hell most people don’t even look up from their smartphones long enough to notice. I did get a negative response one time from an OFWG in a Navy logo (assuming to be Navy vet) who screamed at me, a younger Asian ethnic person who is an Army Veteran, that I was endangering children by open carrying.

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