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The Open Carry movement—which lobbies for citizens’ right to carry licensed firearms in plain view—may have a champion in Duncan Dohmen. The 68-year-old Washingtonian was arrested last June for openly carrying a Smith & Wesson 1911 into a local McDonald’s. Speaking to the, the [former] pistol-packer proclaimed “Rights not exercised are rights lost.” Then again, Dohmen’s case doesn’t exactly position the proactive Open Carry advocate atop the model high ground. To wit: “According to police reports, the McDonald’s manager said that when she asked Dohmen to leave because of his gun, he tapped the holstered pistol and told her, ‘Bring it bitch.’ Dohmen denies that. He says he told her it wasn’t illegal and offered her a brochure about gun rights. He was eventually charged in Benton County District Court with a gross misdemeanor for the unlawful carrying or displaying of a firearm ‘in a manner, under circumstances, and at a time and place that either manifests an intent to intimidate another or that warrants alarm for the safety of other persons.'” Dohmen was scheduled to go on trial Monday; he agreed to a six-month continuance. If he keeps his nose clean, including traffic infractions (of all things), the charge may be dropped.

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  1. In Georgia, plain-view carry is legal without any type of permit in most (if not all) of the same places concealed carry is legal with CCW (i.e. everywhere except government property, publicly-owned places, "public gatherings" such as church, sporting events, etc., and anywhere that specifically bans firearms). Also, it's legal to have a firearm in your car without a CCW permit as long as it's either in the glove box or on the seat.

    A local gun shop/indoor range I frequent ( has the following to say about the issue of "plain view" carry, and I think it makes a great deal of sense:

    "Does my gun have to be concealed when I carry? Can't I legally carry the gun on me in plain view?

    "Technically yes, BUT:

    "1) The first person who sees it and freaks out will call the police, and you will have a conversation with the authorities. It may go well, it may not go well, it depends on who answers the call and how they feel about what you are doing. But it will get no better than "a long conversation with the police". It can get considerably worse. You will win in the end, but the hassle involved could be excessive and expensive.

    "2) If the restaurant / establishment owner decides to throw you out, he can do so legally. It may also make an enemy out of a business owner who was previously uninvolved in gun control. People hate to have their faces rubbed in things they are unfamiliar with, or that frighten them (no matter how irrational that fear may be). There are better ways to win hearts and minds than frightening someone's patrons, no matter how valid your stance may be.

    "3) It is tactically foolish, bordering on suicide. Never let the bad guy know anything more about you than you have to. Surprise is one of the greatest advantages, don't give it up when you are fighting for your life.

    "The first predator that decides to walk up behind you and just yank that gun out of your holster will probably have no problem doing so. Or he may just punch your lights out and take it off your unconscious body. A sucker-punch from an ex-con whose been lifting weights and punching the heavy bag in prison for the last 8 years packs a hell of a wallop. There are even "schools" in some prisons where inmates teach and practice disarming police. If you do not see it coming, there is little you can do to stop it.

    "Depending on who you are reading, between 40% and 75% of all cops shot, are shot with their own gun. These are professionals, trained in weapon retention, carrying in at least level 3 retention holsters, and they are still disarmed with frightening regularity. What level of retention is your holster? How many hours of Officer Survival training do you have?

    "You may feel the political statement outweighs the potential for legal entanglements, backfiring on you, or getting you killed. We will not tell you not to do it. We only offer these arguments for your consideration. And another opinion:


    "Should you be able to carry open? YES, it is legally your right.

    "Should other people be cool about your sidearm? YES, that would be nice.

    "If EVERYONE carried open, might things be different? YES, that would be nice, too.

    "Are there some very serious considerations regarding open carry? YES.

    "Please choose wisely, and after much consideration of both sides of the issue."

  2. Don,

    As you point out, Open Carry is tactical suicide.

    If widely adopted it would INCREASE violent crime. Criminals could have a reasonable chance of knowing whether or not their victim is armed just by looking.

    Politically, I reckon gun rights' advocates do themselves no favors by pushing Open Carry. As above, it's both unnecessary and inadvisable. Yes, I get that it's a political statement. But deploying emotionally charged symbols that harden moderate opinion against your cause is not helpful in the extreme. As you say, it's one thing to support gun ownership rights. It's another to have to see civilian firearms on a daily basis.

    And yet . . . I've been to plenty of places where gun-toting civilians are no big deal (e.g., Israel). Personally, as a father, I'd prefer to keep gun ownership on the down-low.

  3. I find Don’s comment very informative. I grew up watching westerns where all the men, and some of the women, carried weapons as a practical matter of safety, but I was living in a society where only policemen actually wore them openly.

    I have read that during the settlement of the Western US, accidental discharge of weapons was second only to disease as the largest cause of death. IOW people were about as handy with guns as they are with any other tool, which is a scary thought.

  4. “Open Carry” as it appears in the media and as spoken by gunslingers everywhere is more a “Utopian” ideal. I take Utopia as a universal ideal environment. Ideally we would imagine ourselves all equally honorable, responsible and able with our firearms. This is not the case. I plead common cases against Open Carry below:

    1. It counts as a show of force. If you see someone who does not like you on the street and he is packing heat you just went through a threat assessing phase that is of grave importance to you even if your perceived enemy is sipping a milkshake. This can happen with anyone you find to be suspicious and will be unfounded most of the time but just as valid every time.

    2. Large groups of people with guns are only combatable by large groups of people with guns. A gang of people is quite literally -just- a group and one devoted to crime is bad but a group of people bound by nothing but the common cause of carrying guns is easily vigilantes, which is not much better.

    3. If there are guns on everyone and someone starts shooting who is going to get hit? Most people aren’t trained in Target aquiring under stress and civilians don’t wear uniforms so how will you tell good guys from bad when you aren’t the only good guy responding? This is assuming open carry is common in Utopia but still.

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