Lucio Eastman [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
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So, you can open carry in your state. Should you?

Some of you are probably thinking “not this crap again,” because this is an oft-visited trope for folks who carry. If that’s you, then you might want to skip this one or – alternately – go vent your spleen in the comments. Bring the pain, you won’t hurt my feelings. But I digress.

At present, more than 30 states permit the practice of openly carrying a handgun and most permit open carry of a long gun. Sixteen states have constitutional carry.

Granted, open carry laws vary by state and by locality. In some states, such as Texas, if you have a concealed carry permit, you can open carry or conceal it if you so choose. Other states, such as Virginia or my home state of Washington, don’t require a permit; anyone who can legally possess a firearm can openly carry their handgun in a holster in non-prohibited areas (though concealment requires a permit).

Some states outright prohibit it, and certain cities do as well. Make sure you consult your state and local law before proceeding. Ignorance of the law is no excuse and blathering on about what you think your rights are (instead of what the laws and court precedents say they are) in front of a judge isn’t likely to keep you out of jail if you break the law.

Federal law doesn’t really have anything to say on the topic of open carry, outside of A) where federal law says you can’t carry, i.e. school zones (without a permit) federal buildings and so on, and, B) who can and can’t possess a firearm.

Open Carry
Dan Z for TTAG

Whether or not you should open carry breaks down into practical and ethical considerations.

Practically speaking, open carriers insist that open carrying is a deterrent to criminals with the concealed carry objection being you lose the element of surprise.

How true is any of this?

It’s true that some bad guys have been REALLY surprised when an off-duty officer or lawful concealed carrier has produced a handgun where they weren’t expecting one.

As to open carry being a deterrent…well, it’s not as if any exit surveys have been done where career criminals have said, “You know, I was totally gonna knock off that Piggly Wiggly, but when I saw that guy with a gun on his hip, I thought better of it.” To date, no causal or correlative relationship has been established between open carry laws and crime rates that I’m aware of.

In short: it might have an effect, but nobody can prove it. Hitchens’ razor (that which is claimed without evidence can be dismissed without evidence) would suggest the “deterrent” argument is specious. Ultimately it’s up to you to make your own decision on that front.

Open carry
Dan Z for TTAG

As far as anything from the real world that would suggest an argument against open carry, there have been a few isolated incidents where an open carrier was targeted by a small group of hoodlums, bashed about the head and shoulders and deprived of their firearm. It has happened, but it’s very rare.

However, the thing is that gun owners talk about that crap because we’re dancing around the question of ethics.

In other words, the real question is if you’re being an asshat when you open carry. This is a touchy subject, as a lot of people have strong, differing opinions, and hoo-boy will people get into it.

I believe everyone should be able to open or concealed carry as they wish. Some people choose the former, some the latter, and neither bothers me. So long as a person isn’t legally prohibited from possessing a gun, and is doing it in a safe, responsible manner, I don’t care.

I wouldn’t want open carry to be legally prohibited, and I would strongly urge anyone to vote against initiatives or candidates that mean to do so. But not everybody thinks the same way I do.

Open Carry
Dan Z for TTAG

Look, not everyone is comfortable with guns. In fact, some folks want gun control measures so restrictive that no one would be able to have guns except the police or the military…and some folks even want to disarm the cops.

When you open carry, you’re wearing your holster and pistol (or slinging your rifle) for everyone to see, other people’s feelings and the torpedoes be damned. That can make some people nervous, uncomfortable or even frightened. Yes, it’s due to their ignorance about guns, but that doesn’t change how they feel.

It doesn’t take a whole lot of grey matter to remember the Golden Rule. Don’t do something to someone else if you don’t want it done to you. Do YOU like people waving things in your face that make you uncomfortable? Of course not, and that’s how some people feel about guns. But then again…not everywhere is like everywhere else.

Where I live, nobody really notices if I or anyone else open carries. However, eastern Washington/northern Idaho isn’t like the rest of the country. If you live in, say, a bedroom community in Connecticut, you’re going to get the stink eye and the local PD may end up wanting to have a chat with you. Even if there’s nothing illegal about what you’re doing.

Again, you can argue about the “should” all you want. This is about the “is,” and you should definitely consider that.

Open carry fast food restaurant
DrunkDriver [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
So the answer is really that it depends a lot on where you’re doing it. Thus, if you open carry in an area with a strong or strong-ish gun culture, it’s probably no real never-mind to anyone and there’s not really much of an ethical problem. If you do so in an area where that isn’t the case, then you’ll probably be making people uncomfortable…maybe intentionally.

Which brings up another reason some open carry. They present the “normalization” argument…it goes something like this: If people who don’t like guns start seeing more people carrying guns openly and not causing a problem, they’ll be more accustomed to them and thus won’t have a problem (or less of a problem) with gun ownership in general.

If that means nonchalantly carrying a pistol in a holster, then maybe that will happen. The problem is some folks take open carry a step too far.

Daniel Oberhaus [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons
In other words, “Let’s all start open carrying our AR-15s and tactical gear so people can see it’s no big deal.” While there may be no legal prohibition against that – and many states don’t prohibit the open carry of long guns – that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re helping the cause.

Sure, you might not be hurting anyone in any tangible sense…but some folks will definitely find it distasteful or actually threatening.

So if you start parading around a Walmart with an AR-15, a tactical vest, multiple loaded magazines and a loaded handgun on your hip a few days after a mass shooting…you’re going to have a problem, no matter what your rationale is.

So to bring this all home . . .

Should you open carry? So long as you’re legally permitted to do so, and you’re doing so in a safe and responsible manner, you won’t have anything to worry about legally speaking. However, try to use good judgement. If you know you’re doing it in a way that’s liable to cause a scene or make a lot of people nervous or spook the horses, so to speak, you probably shouldn’t.

Oh, and feel free to sound off in the comments.

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    • huh.. never knew exercising your 2A rights what attention whore behavior. You certainly have the dumb ass aspect nailed.

      • Would you pay more attention to someone with a gun visibly displayed on their hip than someone without one? I think most people would. So why draw that attention on purpose?

        • Most people never notice. Open carry has been legal without a permit in Kentucky since we have been a state. I have never had anyone say anything to me when I open carry. I my 50 years, I have only seen one time where a rent a cop asked a guy to leave a mall because he was open carrying.

        • Chris, you know what I mean by wolves and sheep; or were you asleep in English class when they went over metaphors? Open carry in urban environments is almost never a good idea. Even if it’s your right and legal. In fact, sometimes it’s just plain stupid.

        • For me, I glance, I know the presence, thats about it. Most OCers I’ve noticed here are old people and pretty much in condition white.

        • “Open carry in urban environments is almost never a good idea.”

          You can’t be serious, Gadsden. I live in an bad urban hood and if I didn’t open carry, I would’ve had to use my firearm multiple times already.

        • John in Buckeye, how do you know? Did your potential assailants tug your sleeve and say, “Sir, I was thinking of mugging you, but your openly displayed firearm gave me pause.” Open carry should be legal, but not always, in fact almost never, a good idea.

      • Hydguy, Carl has it right. Many have the same mentality as the guys playing their stereos in their cars at full volume. I call it the “Look At Me!” complex. As to the question; yes open carry should be legal, but everyone should be very careful where and when they do it. I always choose concealed when moving among the wolves and sheep.

        • I am a man, who moves among other humans, not wolves or sheep. I open carry like an honest man should.

      • You walk around with a rifle slung in the public and someone like me will shoot you in the face and get away with it. Walking around open carrying a pistol is just for douchebags. Period. End. Of. Story.

        • So you admit you are mentally unstable and will shoot someone who is not a threat to you. You must be a cop.

        • “You must be a cop.”

          No, Chris, that’s just little ‘JD’.

          He pops in to TTAG occasion all huffing-and-puffing with how smart he seems to think he is. When in reality, he’s far from it. It’s a classic example of the ‘Dunning–Kruger effect’, where someone with a mediocre intellect becomes convinced they are just the smartest and hottest shit that ever walked the earth.

          As usual, ‘JD’, you aren’t impressing anyone here in TTAG.

          Chris, now sit back and watch as he pitches a temper-tantrum like a petulant child who gets called out on the shit they try and pull… 🙂

        • How about if you carry a k frame when buying groceries?
          Context matters not everyone open carrying is doing so for an agenda. Some open carry because be concealed carry of anything bigger then a vest pocket pistol isn’t feasible in 112 degree weather.

        • JD you have to be about the dumbest individual (oh he’s got a rifle on his back so thats a justifiable reason to kill him even though he is not threatening anyone) guess what boy that’s murder you will go to prison and get bubba’s big shaft.
          I am a big 2A advocate but you are the type of person who doesn’t need to have or even be around a firearm if that is what you truly think

        • Lmfao! And geoff (he who still spells his name the gay way) I see you’re still a fixture around here. As another internet blowhard. Yawn I’ve got better things to do with my time than spend every minute on ttag. But sometimes I just have to chime in. Open carry is one of those topics that do it for me. And yes, walk around with a rifle slung in a public place and I’ll shoot you in the fucking face and yes I will get off scott free. As usual and another reason I don’t bother with most of you lame asses, there’s too many retards out here for my liking.

        • Depends on the situation.

          When racist openly march unrestricted on public highways without attaining a permit and threaten the lives of legal drivers it would seem appropriate to dress for the occasion.

          If its at a rally for ths 2A I’d say no. The 2nd is about a right and no a needless show of force. Neither is a little league or major league ball game of any kind or at the local YMCA.

          Such gear is only going to solidify the ignorant, aka “the left” and push them. As unbelievable as it may seem, further left.

          I open carry or a topic never brought up is the time of year? In the cooler months of tge year, about 6 in GA I wear a coat to a jacket, so I’m not open carrying nor attempting to conceal. In the hot months it painfully obvious that and my firearm is within anyonone having even less than 20/20 vision. Short’s and a T-shirt and my attitude comes across as benignly as it does in the winter. I will according to the circumstances conceal carry, i.e. banks, in liberal ruined bastions of any state I travel and others where the police are forced to interact appropriately with legal US citizens.

          In the place, time of year and circumstances. Having tactical gear is not a bad idea, its who, when, where and how you are going about it.

      • When I open carry one of my custom 1911’s most people, like NO ONE, seems to notice. My guns are dark and my rig is dark and so is my clothing. Throw a loose fitting shirt like an Astros Jersey over it and BOOM never been busted. People are just that preoccupied.

        Today I was off-body concealed carrying in my Maxpedition FatBoy pack. Sometimes you can see the butt of my G32 and an armed security guard in Whole Foods Market saw it and approached me. I put my rig back in the truck and finished my shopping at Whole Foods FOR THE LAST TIME. I have carried into and out of Whole Foods Market for years and not had a problem but NOW they have 30.06 and 30.07 signs on the automatic doors that can be obscured when they open.

        IF I had been on-body deep concealing the gun or one of my others, there would have been no problem with the $12/hr. rent-an-idiot.

        Fuck Jeff Bezos.

        • I know that feeling of open carrying a custom 1911. People are usually just so impressed an awe struck they clear the way for me. Another reason why you should choose the 1911.😉

        • He may have or may not have been an idiot he was probably doing what his employer has told him to do as far as his wage what does that have to do with anything. Don’t be the person that is so decorative of what you are not even sure of

      • Exactly who is the asshat? Articulate expression of opposing ideas as well as Constitutional law isn’t your strength.

    • People routinely open carry in Arizona with out the world catching on fire. Not sure if you live in a screwed up state or have another issue.

    • Thank you sir…. this is the only comment I needed to read. Which sums it up in
      a nutshell. Nice article, it’s all about choice. If you choose to be an attention
      whore, or not. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

      • Lotta talk about: brains, smartness, , attention hogs. The best policy is to use your brain, think through things from as many angles as possible, make smart decisions and if you really have a desire for attention then join a nudist colony or visit a nude beach. Legal does not always = Smart, Legal does not always = the right, prudent or proper thing to do. Be considerate and be Nice and there are many ways to be Nice and Safe. There is no need to provide the left with any ammunition. Consider being a positive influence for the 2A community vs creating scenes and negative feelings that can quickly do more harm than good. It is not my business nor yours to educate the left unless under the right circumstances. Consider what you are really teaching others by the way you dress and present yourself in public places.

  1. First, I am very comfortable with firearms, having carried them for years (CWP) and Open Carry as a Bank Protection Officer. I would love to see Constitutional Carry and have the choice, as in Texas, of carrying openly or concealed. Of interest, in my church, we have several CWP holders who carry every time we have a church meeting. the Session (Presbyterian Church in America) approved the concealed carry for anyone with a CWP.

  2. To use a common phrase, I prefer the “gray man” approach, keep a low profile, don’t be noticed, be alert.

    • There still persists the contention that if you are open carrying in a location a Bad guy is considering a target and they see you when they walk in the door they will most likely turn around and continue on to target “B”.

      If you are concealed carrying in that same situation and the bad guy comes in undeterred you are now in the position of having to draw and use your weapon, and all the bullshit that comes along behind that.

      Remember, the estimate of violent crimes prevented or stopped when the criminal realizes the victim is armed, even though no shot is fired, goes as high as 2.5 million times per year. And as noted in the article, there are no statistics on how many bad guys did an immediate about face on spying an open carried pistol.

      A bad guy may be able to do simple math and calculate the odds that in his target location there may be a 5% chance of a concealed carrier. Reasonable odds – go for it.

      But if he walks in the door and sees a customer with a pistol on his hip the odds go immediately to 100% that if he continues with the original plan SOMEBODY is going to get shot. Then the math he is doing is, “How bad do I really want the $61 in the cash register?”

      • “There still persists the contention that if you are open carrying in a location a Bad guy is considering a target and they see you when they walk in the door they will most likely turn around and continue on to target “B”.”
        There is also the POSSIBILITY that said Bad Guy has no plan “B” and decides to move in behind you and non-surgically remove your brain through your forehead before continuing on with plan “A”… I’ll take my chances, you make it sound like drawing from concealed is a complicated task, I would suggest that IF that is the case for you then you should consider a different rig/carry position or maybe practice more often… Open carry is not necessarily a deterrant to a determined possibly desperate (especially a drug addicted) individual… Your 5% contention does not play in Fl. where at any given time in any given location (including gun free locations) if there is more than two people present the probability that there is also a concealed firearm present goes to 100%… If you OC and use a proper retention holster you will NOT be able to acquire your gun any quicker than I can from my CC shoulder rig… That being said carry however you want but don’t expect one method to be any more of a deterrant than the other…

  3. “I Can Open Carry In My State…But Should I?”

    I have, it’s really not that big of a deal…99% of the time, everyone is too wrapped up in their own little world and don’t even notice, and the 1% that do or might notice, really have little or no interest…

  4. I don’t open carry myself, for two reasons: #1, I don’t have a rig with proper retention and my wardrobe isn’t well suited for it; and #2, if anyone calls the cops on me, that’s a huge waste of both my time and the cops, when both of us have more productive things to do.

    Still, it always puts a smile on my face when I see someone else carrying. If you want to, then you should.

    Re: the people who carry rifles or go all mall-ninja in public, that’s just stupid. It has the same effect on the gun-muggles that tranny/drag-queen story hour in the library has on most of us. A few true believers will get a charge out of it, and everyone else will be filled with disgust and distrust — and that negativity gets transferred to the entire cause.

    • “Re: the people who carry rifles or go all mall-ninja in public, that’s just stupid. It has the same effect on the gun-muggles that tranny/drag-queen story hour in the library has on most of us. A few true believers will get a charge out of it, and everyone else will be filled with disgust and distrust — and that negativity gets transferred to the entire cause.”

      Hear, hear…

    • When I was OCing my pistol regularly and the various early OC rifle incidents happened in Texas and California I had several people approach me and say that they didn’t mind my carrying a pistol, and at least I wasn’t like those crazy guys with rifles in restaurants. Nothing is going to change a rabid anti gunner, but the rifle carriers did the move the needle to normalize pistol OC with middle of the road types.

      • So it is possible that they *can* move the needle in the right direction…I wonder how it balances out, though. Still seems to me that they do more harm than good.

  5. Sometimes I wish I could here in Illinois, because I’ll be damned if it isn’t uncomfortable sometimes.

    At the same time, I feel like the anonymity that comes with concealed carry is a positive.

    People don’t see a guy with a gun, they just see a guy.

  6. First, I’m in Texas – where a LTC-holder can carry open (OC) (with some restrictions) or concealed (CC).

    I usually don’t think twice about seeing someone open carrying. Just the mere fact that they are open carrying does not, ipso facto, make them an attention whore. That shows up with attitude more than the fact of open carrying. Those who carry naturally, at alert but not having that “I dare you to try” stance, just blend into the background, in my experience. I’ve seen one or two OC’s that seemed to draw attention to that fact, but more who don’t.

    I may OC when I feel like it (say, when the temps are in the upper 90’s and a cover garment is uncomfortable) or CC – especially in those areas where an OC is liable to make others uncomfortable.

    IMHO, if I choose to OC it ain’t nobodies’ business but my own. Without hard evidence to say one method is “better” or “wiser” than the other, folk’s opinions are just that – and everyone has one.

  7. How is the public going to know about their rights unless we in the community show them responsible gun ownership?
    As a substitute, I think cardboard cutouts would do very well in California or New York. In New Jersey you can include next to the gun cut out a picture of Carol Bowne and a copy of her gun permit request. That she never got.

    I open carry all the time. And I don’t need it dress like a soldier to do it. Those with a sense of humor can put a banana in the magazine well of your weapon. Or just paint your extended magazine yellow with a Dole sticker on the side. The 40 or 60 rounder makes a great impression!

    I think that would help to “break the ice” and start a conversation.

  8. “I Can Open Carry In My State…But Should I?”

    Should I only be free to exercise my rights “the right way”?
    If you exercise any of your rights openly, then somebody, somewhere is going to criticize you over the way you do it or for the reason you do it. If you choose to refrain from exercising your rights because someone might disapprove or be offended, then you are (in progressive lingo) internalizing your own oppression. The Homer technique of giving up before you try is not a winning strategy.

  9. Open carry makes you an obvious target. A target for someone who wants to steal your gun. A target for someone bent on doing harm because you need to be shot first when you are not expecting it. A target for law enforcement who hate open carry.

    Concealed carry avoids these problems and does raise people’s blood pressure. We may think it’s about normalizing and making six guns on the hip acceptable but along the way your going to freak a lot of voters out.

    Please don’t make more trouble for gun owners by open carry.

  10. Unless I’m in uniform, (army and private security years ago), I personally prefer the grey man approach. Maybe it’s paranoia but I don’t want to take the odds of him first by criminal.

    Two uniformed cash delivery guards were shot in the back at shopping mall near where I lived some years back. One lived, one in wheel chair. Criminal took their guns plus the cash. They made it easier by breaking protocol and being side by side with cash trolley instead of spread out as per procedure. Same thing twice more 7 and 4 years ago but criminal missed with first shot and lost to guard in gunfight. Guard wounded in the third example during the fight.

    I don’t want to take the odds of being that far behind if trouble starts so as I said above Grey man for me.

  11. What is this? Another popularity poll? Maybe I’m an outlier, but I don’t govern myself by what’s popular with others, whether it’s guns or anything else.

  12. Too many situations to make a general statement but in an urban setting, if your main goal is defense, no. Surprise is a very powerful weapon and far exceeds the very small advantage of being able to draw from an open, rather than concealed, position. Remember that cops open carry largely because they cannot have that element of surprise, being in uniform and all.

    Might there be situations where a violent criminal is deterred by the sight of an open-carried firearm? Maybe. But there are also situations where they might decide to take advantage of a situation to steal one- and at least one documented case of just that happening.

    I at least wish that open carriers would use and train on a proper retention holster. They’re not that expensive.

    • I’m more a concealed guy for most situations. BUT if you think the number of people who see a gun and say “ that’s the guy to rob “
      Is even a small fraction of the people who see a gun and say “I’ll pic another victim “
      You are crazy.

    • Exactly. There is no “always right” answer here. Are you open carrying for tactical reasons or political? I have two different answers for that question. Mission goal and situational awareness are key…

  13. “So long as a person isn’t legally prohibited from possessing a gun, and is doing it in a safe, responsible manner, I don’t care.”

    How will you possibly know if they are prohibited? Do you walk up and ask for an ID and criminal history? How about as long as they are not doing anything weird, aggressive or illegal?

  14. I’m pro choice when it comes to open vs concealed. Personally, I go toward IWB concealed because I feel that I’m in total control of my weapon, easier for me to get in & out of tight places and I avoid unwanted attention.

    A couple of weeks ago I observed an open carrier at a diner we frequent. My first thought was “a bad guy would have a bad day if he walked in here”.

  15. No open carry in ILLinois unless you’re an anointed one. Nearby in Indiana it’s legal and I occasionally see one. Backlash in Hammond with twitterpatting weenies resulting in “gunfree zones”(😄😊😋). Whatever you choose is OK with me…I’m sure a few in Odessa wish they’d shot back today!!!

  16. This article is a little inaccurate. Some interview with convicted felons have shown that they do consider the likelihood of a potential victim having a fire arm in the selection process. Some studies have shown that it matters as much or more than the likelihood of arrest to many criminals.

    Remember criminals for the most part follow the most important rule of surviving a gun fight. DON’T get in a gunfight. !! When you rob a concealed carrier you are thrust into a gunfight. It’s too late. When you are planning to rob a person and see he is armed , you can just decide to rob somebody else

  17. In Georgia, we can open carry, and there are specific times when I will, but that’s not usually a public setting. So if I’m around the house, burning boxes or wood, or pulling garbage cans on a dark night through my woods all the way to the road, yeah, I’m open carrying. If I’m pumping gas, or using an ATM, with the car door set up to screen potential assailants from making an attack from my right, I’m probably open carrying.

    Going into the grocery store to pick up stuff, especially after dark, I’m armed, but covertly. I see other dudes pushing carts with a gun on their hip, but I don’t think it’s tactically optimal. Open carry gives faster access, and that’s great in the woods, but covertness is important when I think there’s going to be people around.

    Then there’s the haircut shop gal whose outer wear rides up and exposes the muzzle of a .38 when she reaches up to turn down the radio volume in the shop. That’s just bad concealment, but give her a B for at least being prepared. I see more bad concealment than true open carry.

  18. Well, obviously if the law allows is always the first question.

    So after that, depends on you. If you take a practical outlook and a calm mindset about you, I see no reason not to carry openly or concealed as you may desire.

    But do you wear camo everywhere and carry in a thigh drop holster? A half dozen spare mags? A personal Taser? Several knives for stabbing, gutting, throwing? A backup piece in an ankle holster?

    Is your gut so big your belt cannot find anything solid to keep your holstered gun from weighing down your cargo shorts dang near to your ankle on your gun side?

    Have you ever used the phrase “Hold my beer, I’m gonna’ try something”?

    Has so much as one friend or family member ever referred to you as “Dog nuts crazy”?

    Has anyone ever turned to you suddenly and asked if you have a full length mirror anyplace in your house? And if you said “Yes”, did they just say “Well, shit”, then turn and walk away while shaking their head?

    That’s just a few, there are many tests as to whether or not you should embrace carrying a gun openly.

    Coincidentally, these are often the same tests for figuring out if you should carry concealed.

  19. Once you’ve been the victim of a deadly assault , it changes the whole picture of weather or not you want open carry or concealed carry, either one will do. That’s the whole purpose of the 2 A…, don’t tread on me, or my options.

  20. In the 9th Circuit, there are 3 seperate Open Carry cases making their way thru the courts.

    Two out of California, and one in Hawaii.

    The 9th has already ruled once in favor of Open Carry for Hawaii, but Hawaii is appealing it.

    For the most part, the other is waiting on what the US Supreme Court is gonna say in the New York gun case before they proceed with most of these Open Carry cases.

  21. As my Dar ol’ Dad once told me, “Just because you can, don’t mean you should”. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. I’m usually concealed.

    I have been asked about it on a couple occasions. ‘Are you carrying that to protect yourself?’ ‘No, I’m carrying this to protect you’ has always been a good response.

    I have also been thanked because it made someone feel safer. “I glad you’re carrying, did you know this restaurant has been robbed twice in the last five years?” (It is less than 500 feet from the city police station.) “Yes, I did.”

    I was out for breakfast about a year ago and the topic of carrying firearms came up when I was eating t the counter next to a stranger. That place had been robbed within the last year as well. He was against it, I said I was in favor of it. Then he asked if I was carrying and I said, ‘I’m not sure, you tell me. We’ve spoken several times in the past. Have you ever noticed me carrying?’ He hadn’t.

    But as the TV commercial says, results may vary. Some people do get nervous when they see it. Some do not notice it. Still right after a mass shooting, in a big city environment, probably not best to dress like a recent shooter and walk through a Walmart. Maybe legal, just will have the weenie head liberals nervous. But if you were rural America where you can’t often get groceries without seeing a pistol on someone’s hip, odds are no one will care.

  22. Handguns are primarily defensive weapons. You draw/use them when attacked or threatened. Long guns are primarily offensive weapons… you generally use them when attacking, not defending.

    If I see a decently dressed person walking around with a handgun on their hip, I’m not going to look twice (other than to see what they’re carrying). I’ve run into plenty of people even here in the Seattle area in T-shirt and jeans and either a shoulder rig or hip holster and thought nothing of it other than to ask them what they were carrying… there was nothing threatening about how they carried themselves or acted. You walk into Wally World with a AR/AK and tacticool gear loaded for bare… there’s no reason to do that other than to draw people’s attention and basically scream “LOOK AT ME!!!”, or to start killing people. It wouldn’t be an unreasonable stretch for someone to assume the later and shoot you.

    Sorry, if you walk into a mall dressed like your about to raid an enemy compound, I’m going to assume that’s what you’re doing.

  23. Well we could flip it around a little and say…….”should I speak out in public”?

    Speaking your opinion in public is going to make some people nervous..or anxious…or mad. So you have to ask if some someone speaking in public is being an asshat.

    It really doesnt matter…until they DO something that infringes on someone else’s rights….they can say what they please. Yelling “fire” or enciting a riot not withstanding.

    We all have our little triggers that worry us.. if you’re toting a rifle in town, I’m gonna watch you because you make me a little nervous. That’s just how it is.

  24. Having done both extensively I think it’s all personal preference.

    I was bothered by the cops exactly once OCing and it’s not really a great example because it’s a very, very hyperliberal area that’s extremely antigun and… nothing happened other than the cops wanted to know what gun I had because they hadn’t seen a 941 before. It wasted maybe five minutes of my time, but was it really a waste chatting about my pistol and their pistols? Reasonable folks might disagree.

    Ultimately the arguments over perceived advantages are pretty minimal IMHO and the people who get real uppity about one or the other tend to have a very “mall ninja” flavor to their argument.

  25. The article makes good sense. Some people with a gun make me nervous. Others don’t. It’s how they act and look when they are doing it.

  26. Amazing. A short tome ago here on TTAG a similar article was posted. I asked that we consider granny goody two shoes and other snowflakes “feelings”.
    Was roundly chastised and called FUDD. And other things.
    I also commented that a fat ass in cammies with crappy gear and the biggest gun he could find, made me uncomfortable, again the FUDD thing.
    I said just ’cause you can, should you? Same FUDD crap.
    Now an article comes out re. OC and almost every response is “circumstances dictate”.
    I carry OWB in a self made retention holster (leather w/thumb snap) I also wear a vest of some form. I don’t actually OC but I do take off the vest, so it’s OC.
    But I don’t carry a 1911 w/20 rounds in mags on a sagging belt, either.
    So, do what you want, don’t care. But think about what you project to others. We, POG, are sometimes our own worst enemy.
    PS loved the pic w/ the girl in yoga tights and really FUGLY boots!

    • Dave….I don’t think you’re a FUDD. I find that word usually used by the “has to be a Glock and an AR” crowd.

      However, I do think you’re missing some of the point.

      What about tattoos? They make many people nervous. Some tattoos are meant to offend. When I see someone with anything on their face, I immediately think “WTF”.

      But it comes down to what the person “does”. Plenty of tatted people are perfectly decent. A few are jackasses. Just like anything else.

      And it does seem like you have a phobia of saggy belts…..and if memory serves ….flashlights…😉

      • Thanks, I think?
        As I said do what you want, don’t care.
        Phobia of sagging belts? Yes.
        A short while ago a comment was made re. “no butt to hold up my pants” I’m there.
        I have a good gun belt but I can’t carry a lot of weight w/o suspenders.
        A sagging belt/pants is like hair curlers and yoga pants in public, just cause you can, should you?
        Flashlights? Not a phobia. Just don’t like being told (by J.Bosch) that I’m wrong if I don’t feel the need. I live in a very rural area, not much nightlife, they roll up the side walks at 1900 hrs. I have several good lights, a few live in my truck. If I know I need one I have one.

        • I know….was just poking some fun about the lights from our past discussions.

          I too am in the no-ass-to-speak-of camp.

          So I wear a Galco gun belt to hold up my drawers and my roscoe.

          Works well with steel framed guns and I really dont notice my Glock 43 or 48.

          If we had open carry in FL, i would probably go with an El Paso Saddlery pancake rig that was Floral carved..

          Then I could carry a single action in style ( once in a while).

  27. Open vs concealed? All of our rights are individual for a reason; no one else has a say about what I do with my 2A right!

    You do you and I’ll do me. In other words, mind your own damn business!

  28. “As to open carry being a deterrent…well, it’s not as if any exit surveys have been done”

    I live in one big urban exit survey and yes, it does deter. I have been told that several times by actual criminals. I have also seen it stop a few who were beginning their criminal act upon me and then saw the sidearm. There have been many interviews with criminals who have asserted that if they know the potential victim might be armed, they choose another victim. Even without interview evidence, it takes only common sense to realize that openly carrying a firearm raises the risk variable of the risk-to-reward calculation.

    “Do YOU like people waving things in your face that make you uncomfortable? Of course not, and that’s how some people feel about guns.”

    This horseshit again. “Waving” something “in someone’s face” is not the same as going about your day-to-day activities armed.

    It makes even more sense now why your TTAG ad~post emphasized concealed carry when just carry would’ve done. I certainly won’t be buying any Bigfoot Gun belts.

    Weak-ass POTG are who seem to be the loudest representatives. It’s little wonder why the exercise of our unalienable right is so screwed.

  29. Congratulations Fudds. Out of sight is out of mind. That’s how we got concealed handgun licensing in Ohio instead of simple constitutional Carry. Now division has set in deep. Whole industries have grown up around concealed carry. It made it way more difficult to get real constitutional carry passed in Ohio. The Fudds and Gun Belt (er, I mean gun counter) clerks are spreading nonsense that they actually believe. To normalize guns, people have to see guns in regular, day-to-day activities.

    Don’t let them shove POTG further into the closet. It’s a gigantic mistake.

  30. What happens to you for what you do is not my problem, what happens to me for what I do is not your problem. In a population of 308 million people what one individual does is probably not going change the price of rice, unless, that person is the president. He doesn’t have to carry anything.

  31. We have had constitutional carry in WV for a few years now, but open carry had been legal for forever. I never saw anybody open carry until constitutional carry passed which seems counterintuitive. I carry concealed simply because it is the polite thing to do, in my opinion. A gentleman puts people at ease, and in my area I could easily see some folks freaking out about a person with a gun on their hip. If somebody wants to open carry, I think that’s fine, live and let live. They really should, however, have a good retention holster and train for what to do if somebody grabs their weapon.

  32. I wonder if there’s ever been an instance of an open carrier “getting shot first” by a criminal. It seems much more likely that anyone considering criminal activity who spots someone open carrying is going to think twice instead. Open carry is definitely a deterrent, as intended.
    That being said, I conceal carry, mostly just out of habit I guess, but I make up for it by printing like Gutenberg. No one ever seems to notice or care if they do.

  33. I live in Texas and we have A License To Carry card, open or concealed , it does not matter. Now I carry concealed most times, because it is allowed in more places.

  34. If I might take advantage of the topic and ask a follow up…

    I recently moved to Nevada. Have been a CCW holder for years and never OCed because I prefer the gray man approach. I applied for my Nevada CCW as soon as possible, but am told to expect 3-4 months of wait time.

    Under Nevada law, I cannot continue to carry concealed after a 60-day grace period. Which is now over. However, Nevada allows open carry without a permit.

    Should I open carry in the meantime, until me permit comes in the mail? Or not carry at all?

    • Just open carry. I doubt in a place like Nevada that’s going to be a big deal. I lived quite a few places and honestly open carry of a pistol usually attracts no attention. Like I said above, people’s faces are so in their phones they rarely notice. But make sure you’re doing with a good holster. Don’t open carry with a cheap uncle mikes that’s only a folded piece of cloth. Get a safari land or Blackhawk or 1791.

  35. OC or CC? That is the question. Vanilla or chocolate ice cream? Different question, same answer.

    Went out with the wife today, OCed my 9mm pistol. Shopped in Wally World, stopped at the tobacco shop, ate lunch at a family restaurant. No old ladies fainted or left puddles on the floor, parents didn’t shield their kids’ eyes. Nobody noticed, or nobody cared. Just another day in Western Pennsylvania.

    Wore suspenders, belt didn’t sag.

    • Pa is a great state for gun ownership. We just need to get rid of wolf in the next election and shore up the court with 2A friends and we’re good for a while.

  36. personally i dont care either way be it concealed or open I just wish either were an option here. Even a decent knife or pepper spray can get you charged and locked up here. Personally i often talk to coppers about their sidearms. Most often i find they dont even know the most basic information about it, some not even who the manufacturer is, so it is refreshing when i come across one that does know and often we end up having a great chat. We do also have a couple cops who are part of our club and train for IPSC competition.
    Personally i feel if the average person on the street cant carry any form of personal self defense tools then the cops (no matter what level) should be able to either and no politician, banker, media mogul, judge etc etc should be allowed either themselves or a personal protection team which many in those official positions do have.
    Personally i would also see much longer jail times for those committing actual crimes (crimes where there is a victim) and all laws that have no victim stricken from the books and those charged for them released unless they are in for other actual crimes as well.

  37. It’s too bad the first post had to be some short sighted dick to comment on the topic, because there are a number of legitimate reasons to open carry besides just the fact that he can as a citizen of the United States. But since that’s not good enough and apparently attention whoring– because, you know, all police must be attention whores doing the same thing –ease of access would be a huge tactical concern of mine. Another, more agenda driven reason is normalization. It’s a constitutional right and the more people that are exposed to that fact, the better. Out of sight/mind is not necessarily conducive to our cause for numerous reasons. Sure, there are times you probably shouldn’t, but labeling everybody who open carries an attention seeking man-child is elitist snobbery of the highest order.

    But all that open carry without retention makes me cringy.

  38. I prefer concealed carry. When I carry my .38 snubby, that is OWB, but I usually have my shirt or jacket over it, so it’s sort of semi-concealed carry.

    I’ve got nothing against folks who open carry, I just prefer the anonymity of CC.

  39. I used to think open carry wasn’t worth the hassle of explaining yourself to the police because some chicken-shit POS was frightened by the sight of a gun.

    Now I’m so shit-sick of every a-hole out there I say let them all crap themselves believing they are about to die.

  40. I couldn’t careless, either way…

    The incessant virtue signaling on each side ( OC’er vs CC’er) is the only thing which annoys me to no end

    • Rock On, Hell Child! Everybody carry whatever you want, however you want. What anyone else does is none of my business, so long as they don’t attempt to hurt or threaten ME. If they do, then they make it my business.

  41. If we can get more average citizens to the range for a day of target shooting, the less they’ll be supriesd by OC’ers.

    If, like us, you are around firearms at the range and in training, you look at the OC’ers face and general demeanor to determine “friend or foe”. If friend, you start a “caliber” war/brand war with him. With the foe, it’ll be the other type of war.

  42. I have conceal-carried myself (IWB under a tee shirt) for several years since Michigan became a shall-issue state (but probably “print like Gutenberg” in the summertime). In Michigan open carry without a permit is legal, though I seldom see or notice it. However, under the law you are automatically concealed, open carry or not, when you get into an automobile, so you’d better have a Concealed Pistol License (CPL) for that. And Michigan also has stupid gun free zones in places too numerous to mention here.

    I also notice that most of the gun shops in my neck of the woods (in metropolitan Detroit) have no-open-carry signs on their front doors and windows, which I think is very hypocritical. Nevertheless, I’ve never been in a gun shop where every employee wasn’t armed open-carry, but usually IWB. Just recently, I was in a gun shop where a salesman was armed with an AR pistol rig strapped across his chest. I’m sorry, but THAT frankly made me nervous as hell.

    • Interesting. I live in Detroit and the only gun store I know of that doesn’t allow open carry is Double Action. I think maybe Center Mass also but not sure. You’re right that is hypocritical. I go to Action Impact, Target Sports, Uncoiled, Firingline and Top Gun and open carry with no problem.

      • @Cornelius Washington-Meeks
        How about Peters Indoor Range & Gun Shop on Gratiot in Roseville? And, yes, I was thinking of Double Action as well.

  43. To me it’s really simple. There are places that you know you probably shouldn’t and places you wouldn’t think twice. Here in Florida, open carry is basically illegal unless going to or from or actively hunting or fishing. Leave from the woods while hunting during lunchtime and you are ” normal ” to run into the grocery store for food with a sidearm. Same grocery store in say July and you will get stared at. I’m very pro 2nd amendment. I don’t think it’s all about exercising your right to run around with an AR to get more people used to seeing guns vs you are just a dick. That’s the idiots that do more harm than good to protect our rights

  44. “That can make some people nervous, uncomfortable or even frightened. “

    How a person chooses to feel about something is none of my business.

  45. “open carry . . . can make some people nervous, uncomfortable or even frightened. Yes, it’s due to their ignorance about guns, but that doesn’t change how they feel.”

    Frankly, I don’t give a fvck how they feel.

  46. My only issue with open carry is displayed in most of the photos in this article. The guy at the soda fountain at least has some retention but imagine being in line behind some of the others…you could take their gun before they knew what happened. I’m in favor of protecting all of our gun rights but people who open carry just to prove a point, and do it stupidly, are a problem

  47. Absolutely, you should open carry if you have a reason to carry.

    Like Gotham’s gun transport jurisdiction creep — er, leap — concealed carry n similar laws are to encumber n threaten peaceful gun owners. Accidental or incidental uncovering becomes a SWAT raid felony; holding yr gun becomes “brandishing”; having a gun becomes less useful if you can only “have” it some places.

    Open carry when you have yr varment plinker slung barrel down on yr back, in line at Starbucks on the way out for the day.

    “Why you bringing that in here?”

    “Can’t leave it in the car. Your lot gets smash n grabbed all the time.”

    Someone carrying their own gun for their own purpose is nobody’s business. We have plenty of laws about sketchy purposes that convenienently sketchiness while armed already.

    • For the record, I do not have to check my browser, computer, or phone again, some more, for malware or viruses.

      TTAG comment spam system is a fine example of the costs of false positives; like with “red flag” gun laws. So kudos for a clever form of reportage.

      Meanwhile, the “spam” system does seem to dislike punctuation, contributing to the dumbing-down of conversation (along with the apparent content bias I have to keep arguing about with my tin foil hat.)

      Encumbering something around the edges until doing it becomes net worthless seems … a familiar strategy.

  48. I remeber the good old days when every good old boy kept a rifle and a shotgun in the gun rack of his pickup. People wouldn’t even lock up their pickup and leave the guns overnight!

    Not anymore.

    For many years I kept a Mini-14 in a scabbard integrated in a seat cover of my Isuzu trooper. (30+ mpg diesel)

    Now I keep a Ruger Mini-14 concealed in the compartment under the rear jump seat of my Toyota Tacoma (Butler Creek folding stock makes it fit).

    You need to consider possible perceptions. Years ago not long after Stockton, I found myself poused to intervene in what appeared to be an imminent mass shooting at a grade school. It turned out that the imbecile brandishing an AR-15 was Rick Rolf who was doing a photo op while campaigning to replace Les Aucoin in the US House. If I had allowed myself to get over excited, I would have shot him. The local gun shop owner and I did turn him into the ATF for having a campaign volunteer do a sttaw man purchase because he was a resident of the District of Columbia rather than Oregon.

  49. I open carry as often as possible and conceal carry when not carrying open, aka, I am armed all time when leaving my property.

    Open carry is very important as it reminds people that in most states it is legal, and a right forgotten and not excersized is a right lost.

    Open carry!!

  50. I personally CC every day. Just a personal preference – I’m older and slower, so I like the edge provided by the potential for surprise.

    But I do have one exception each year. Once a year, my wife and I plus several friends, go on an open carry group date. We’ll all go out for dinner and a movie, and everyone open carries. It’s more to emphasize 2A rights than anything else. When we do it, I’d say the positive reactions outweigh the negative about 5-to-1. We’ve even had a few CC carriers switch to open carry on the spot and join us for the night.

    Bottom line: I think everyone who can open carry should do so at least once in a while, just to show that everyday people back the 2A.

  51. I agree, I live in Ohio and I open carry because it’s a preference. I also do it to spark a conversation for the ppl that are curious and to educate if they have questions. Those that don’t know their rights.. are the first one to lose them

  52. Great article. I do agree with what you said. If you are a law abiding citizen you should be allowed to carry. Be responsible in doing so. I think that is the key…

  53. Ive read several times over the years that there is a corilation between open carry and lower rates for certain types of crimes. I feel safe knowing there are armed citiizens that will shoot back should they be shot at! The more people that carry the fewer occurences of mass shootings will happen. These induviduals prey on the weak and unarmed. Im pretty sure most of these incidents happen in gun free zones?

  54. I carry openly in a good retention holster, and carry a concealed backup pistol. I practice situational awareness. Done this for years with no problems, even in many urban areas in Georgia. Been thanked several times by strangers in public. Asked by others about gun laws. The hand-wringing here doesn’t pan out.

    As for detterence, it does happen. Google WaffleHouse, open carry, robbers, Kennesaw.

  55. I open carry a handgun everyday with no issues. I’m not doing it for attention. For one I work armed security so I open carry 8 plus hours a day anyway. Secondly, it’s more comfortable for me personally. I’m also a firearms instructor and a member of the Black Bottom Gun Club, the Detroit chapter of the National African American Gun Association. Like the author stated, it’s up to the individual to decide what is best for them. I have tried conceal carry and absolutely hate. I found myself adjusting my firearm often. My biggest gripe is the disrespect many conceal carry people have towards those who open carry. Just in these comments many of you sound like anti gun trolls not gun rights advocates. I don’t look down my nose at conceal carry so don’t look down your nose at me. And for the record, situational awareness is far more important than the element of surprise. #CarryOn

  56. My Grandmother once gave me a bit of advice…. she said …’if you have to ask the question, you probably already know the answer’….. to this day she has been proven right

  57. i’m 100% in favor of Open carry.

    Unless I”m hunting or hiking, I’d never do it, but that why we have different flavors of Ice cream.

  58. I live in a state without open carry (but does have concealed). I’d like to have the option of open carry, only so I could then carry OWB (with a retention holster) but with a shirt or jacket over, and not have to worry about “brandishing” if if someone happens to catch a glimpse. But not so I could “actually” open carry — personal preference, but I’d like to retain an element of surprise if I do find myself in a self-defense situation

  59. Open carry when done correctly is a big positive for demonstrating gun civil rights to the uneducated public. And there are different categories.

    1. Self defense in open carry. The open carry at Ferguson MO was necessary and conducted correctly. It stopped the violence.
    2. Natural Disaster open carry. Floods, hurricanes, tornados, etc.
    3. Group political demonstration. An planned organized group small or large demonstrating for civil rights.
    4. Crime suppression. Organized group Neighborhood watch.

    All four are necessary and our civil right to do so as we please.

    Southern Dallas Group Openly Armed To Patrol Neighborhood

  60. Texas License To Carry. S&W M&P M2.0 9mm 5inch carried openly in a Safariland 7TS ALS. Works best for me.

    We must each decide for ourselves which risks we are willing to manage and which benefits matter most to us.

    Be safe and carry.

  61. I love this topic. It really brings out the Fuds that think they arent. If its legal, as it should be, we should support those that desire to OC instead of being a bunch of douche bags to each other. We are our own worst enemy and its topics like these that really bring it out.

  62. Author/Article missed the major OC vs CC issue. CC done right can give an oppertunity of suprise. However, CC also provides an information barrier that supports handgun retention! If BGs don’t know your packing, they’re not going to try and take your gun. Now look (expand them) at the random pics of handgun OC accompanying the Article. I see one Retention holster on a gut with an AR, one with a velcro strap and the rest are ready to be grabbed and not necessarily by the “Carrier”. Add, the positions the handguns are carried are not optimal to see a grab from behind and extremely difficult to defend! Think of it as playing life or death poker with you opponent sitting behind you.

    What people think, what opinions you want to change are not more important than your life.

  63. I Open carry whenever I can, when I do I always make sure my presentation is that of a responsible adult.
    unfortunately I cant carry openly at work, so I conceal.

    if you aren’t comfortable or have the situational awareness/ability to open carry, don’t.

    if you are comfortable, great!

    I’ve had great conversations with cops and civilians as a result of OC, and some have even had better understanding of gun rights and the necessity of civilian gun ownership when I left them.

    its all about location, presentation, and your preference.

    I train for concealment and OC with a variety of guns, and have many friends who do both.

    stop criticizing people cause they do it different.

  64. You guys are something else. I will be short and sweet. It should be MY choice when and where to open carry. I don’t always open carry, but when I do, it’s the .50 DE Action Express, I can say with certainty … it’s a deterrent 🙂 Go big or go home!!!

    I mostly open carry but use my best judgment when deciding when and where to conceal carry.


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