I gotta admit, that is a snazzy holster.
It’s your right and mine…but that doesn’t mean I have to use that right.
About five years ago, the NRA released a statement about open carry that quickly had the gun-owning community up in arms (pun intended. Sue me). A critique of people who were open-carrying their guns as part of protests in Texas, the statement read in part
: “…it’s downright weird and certainly not a practical way to go normally about your business while being prepared to defend yourself.” The firestorm that ensued resulted in a rare public apology from the NRA, so you’d think I’d be smart enough not to write an article pooh-poohing open carry myself. (But if you think I’d be smart enough to do anything
, you’ve either never met me, or you’ve got many more thinks coming.) Before you get the torches and pitchforks out, please rest assured that I understand why people open carry, and that I respect their right to do it. I even wrote an article defending open carry last year—you can read it here
. As for me, however, I don’t open carry and would discourage a friend or loved one from doing so. Here’s why.
1: It freaks out the squares
Most of my reasoning for choosing to carry concealed instead of openly is pragmatic, not ideological. I agree that we should live in a country in which all citizens understand what is and is not legal. Sadly, we don’t. If you live in a suburban area, chances are quite good that your neighbors think that a person wearing a gun openly is either a criminal about to open up a can of Criminal, or a cop getting ready to open up a can of Cop. These people aren’t stupid, but they are ignorant—and it’s the kind of ignorance that often results in public confrontations. Well-meaning folks who don’t understand that what you’re doing is legal may call law enforcement, and law enforcement has no choice but to follow up. I don’t know about you, but I generally enjoy being treated as a potential active shooter only a little bit more than visiting my ex-inlaws for Thanksgiving.
2: Sometimes it freaks out the cops, too.
This brings me to my next point. Although in general most law-enforcement officers know the local laws regarding guns, it’s the specific exceptions to that general rule that give me the foot sweats. There have been many cases in which people who were legally carrying open have been detained
, arrested, or worse
by LEOs who misinterpreted the meaning of that visible firearm. And here’s the thing: Even if the cops do nothing but check in with me to make sure I’m not a crazed mass murderer, every minute I spend interacting with the LEO is a minute I could have spent minding my business more pleasurably elsewhere.
3: It makes me a target for thieves
Open carry is a double-edged sword in many ways; it can and does serve as a deterrent to some criminals…but to others, it’s an attractant
. Guns are relatively small and have plenty of inherent value, so they’re easy to fence
. But many criminals don’t fence them at all; instead, the stolen gun becomes the community property of a street gang. In fact, theft is the primary avenue that puts guns in the hands of people who are otherwise not eligible to own them
(and not, contrary to the entire Democratic presidential lineup, from gun shows). Although only a tiny fraction of those stolen guns came from someone’s openly carried holster, it does happen. A half-decent pickpocket can get your firearm out of your holster without you suspecting a thing until it’s too late…so why should I advertise to the pickpockets?
4: It puts me at a tactical disadvantage
If I were ever to–God forbid–be stuck in a situation in which I’m being forced to fight for my life, I want to have every single possible advantage. That’s because, if I ever find myself in that situation, I’m already at a serious disadvantage. It means that everything else I’ve done to safeguard myself has failed. One teeny-tiny tactical edge that might make the difference between life and death is the criminal’s ignorance of my firearm. Telegraphing the fact that I have one gives an aggressor all sorts of time and leeway to figure out how to overwhelm or disarm me before he begins his attack. In my opinion, the slight advantage of surprise outweighs the deterrent effect of an openly carried gun.
Do you open carry, or carry concealed? What’s your reasoning behind doing so? Tell us in the comments!