My Thoughs on Open Carry

Published by the Author on January 1, 2009 at 12:12 am > Pro Gun Rights Articles > My Thoughs on Open Carry

I’ve been debating whether to write this article for a while, but the comments on a recent article have convinced me to go ahead and do so.  So, here are my thoughts on open carry (as opposed to concealed carry).

The benefits of open carry
1. Having a gun for self defense.
2. Possibly changing anti-gun social norms for the better.  Those opposed to gun rights may become less hostile to guns if they see friends and respected members of the community carrying guns for self defense.
3. Open carry sometimes requires no permit, preventing abuses of the concealed carry permit system in some states, and allowing those under the minimum age for a concealed carry permit to have a gun for self defense.

The drawbacks of open carry
1. People who aren’t aware of open carry rights may become frightened, causing problems for the person who is openly carrying.  Those problems could be both legal and social in nature.
2. Criminals will be able to see the gun, and may try to take advantage of that fact.  The criminal might grab for the gun, or prevent the citizen from drawing the gun in the self defense.  A criminal who is looking to steal a gun may choose to target someone carrying openly as well.
3. A large part of the benefit of concealed carry exists because a criminal won’t know who is carrying a gun for self defense.  If enough people were to carry openly, criminals would be better able to tell who is armed.

ALSO READ:  Humane Society of the United States Opposes Self Defense Rights

My conclusions
Balancing those pros and cons, I find that I’m not really a fan of open carry, at least in areas where there is not an existing tradition of doing so.  I certainly don’t wish to restrict the ability of others to do so, but I don’t find it to generally be a wise decision to carry a gun openly in public.  Concealed carry can generally address the need for self defense just as well, if not better, than open carry.  Concealed carry doesn’t carry the same risks of frightening people who aren’t familiar with open carry.  The concerns over governmental abuse of the concealed carry permit process can be addressed with a Vermont-style concealed carry law.

A note:  I just want to reiterate that my personal dislike of open carry is not to be construed as a statement that open carry should be abolished, or that those who choose to carry openly are unwise individuals.  Rather, I simply don’t see open carry as advancing self defense interests as well as concealed carry, and I also see open carry as having major drawbacks that are not present with concealed carry. Regardless of my personal opinion on whether it is wise and prudent to carry openly, I still support the rights of those who live in an area that allows open carry, and wish to exercise that right.

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  • Danny

    “A large part of the benefit of concealed carry exists because a criminal won’t know who is carrying a gun for self defense. If enough people were to carry openly, criminals would be better able to tell who is armed.”

    I think this is a very important point. When debating with gun-haters, I point out that they need not own guns to reap the benefit of legal gun ownership. I refer to it as the Halo Effect, where citizens who own guns provide a kind of protective halo for other citizens. If a criminal is unsure who is carrying, he is more reluctant to commit crimes. Open carry does have benefits, but it would only make criminals change victims.

    BTW, I’ve also seen some gun-haters who prefer open carry. They say it makes it easier to figure out which people to be friendly with, and which people should be watched suspiciously. It actually makes our guns into scarlet letters or yellow stars.

  • diesel556

    My favorite argument for Open Carry thus far –

  • David

    There is a big belief that people who open carry may have their guns taken away by some criminal, this is not reality. Criminals do not want to have anybody stand up against them, they want the easy mark, then get away. This idea seems to come from the police having their guns taken away sometimes, please remember, we are not in the same situation as the police officer. He is trying to capture the criminal and the criminal is trying to get away. When they see a private citizen open carrying they will just move on to a different target.

  • Mike

    Within our 2nd amendment right we have the right to keep and bear arms. It is a personal decision weather we open or cc. I know here in Washington State it is legal to open carry. There will always be pro’s and con’s about the issue but again it depends on the situation, where you are going and if it is a private business that allows or does not allow.

  • Eric the blu

    Open carry becomes a nightmare for police and private sector (security). If you require a permit to open/conceal carry can you imagine the insanity of trying to determine who to check and who not to check? Extra work load for the private sector, you walk into a business that has security there are two factors. The law gives the right of the proprietor to say no to any carry or yes (requiring proof). A lot of people are going to have to be checked before coming in unless it is a very liberal business. Police will also have to determine if the guy on the bike or the women pushing the baby carriage is legal. Remember, Florida is requiring you to have permit if the open carry law passes. Not just a law that says you can. If I was a bad guy and wanted to rob you and saw you open carry I'm going to walk up behind you and shot you in the head, take your money AND your gun. Most bad guys think twice about robbing someone they can not tell is carrying concealed. What is really scary that most about Florida CCW is the vast majority of concealed carries don't shoot enough or at all, most of them have no idea what a defense load is, weapon retention to what nomenclature means. A lot stick a gun under their clothes and figure they are good to go. To get a CCW in Florida you take a gun safety course, that's it. I have mixed emotions about the lack of people's experience or mind set about concealed carry as it is, but to let them just start open carry make it more that just mixed emotions I must admit scare me a little.