Open Carry

I’m no fan of open carry, much to the dismay of some of my gun-loving brethren.

Although I am an ardent supporter of the second amendment, and a lifetime member of the NRA, I believe this is one of those topics that should be carefully examined by all gun rights advocates.

For me, this comes down to civility, and I would ask those who disagree to try to consider a cop’s perspective.

Open Carry of Military-style Weapons

As a cop, I would not have been comfortable with civilians walking down the street with AR-15s slung over their shoulders. I never personally encountered that, but I have heard reports of it happening to others. Any cop would be at a heightened state of readiness during such encounter, and any subsequent action or contact would be a volatile situation, to say the least.

If I were to encounter a civilian with an AR-15 or another type of semiautomatic rifle in a public place, my first concern would be that a mass shooting was about to take place. My instinct would be to assess the situation and prepare to take appropriate action if necessary. It is not the type of thing one notices and then ignores.

How is he dressed? Could he be wearing body armor? Extra weapons or ammunition? What does his expression tell me? Is he relaxed, or intense? Angry? Scared? Is this a person trying to make a point, or is it a bad guy about to commit a massacre?

Element of Surprise

Now that I’m retired from law enforcement, my daily carry is a Glock compact pistol. No pistol is a good match against a rifle. If I found myself in the unenviable position of having to stop a mass shooting, I would have to come up with a plan to overcome what would be a very lopsided fight.

First and foremost, I would strive to maintain the element of surprise, something that would likely be forfeited by carrying an exposed weapon. I would look to close the distance, which is counterintuitive to the untrained. But given the limitations of my weapon, my goal would be to position myself for a headshot. There is little chance I could close the distance on a man intent on murdering the masses with an exposed weapon. It is more likely I would be the first target.

Unwanted Attention

Most gun owners don’t want the attention that open carry brings to the Second Amendment cause. Inappropriately displaying firearms can cause people who might otherwise be neutral, to become involved in the argument.

People who wouldn’t have cared before that you have an AR-15 in your home could begin questioning why such weapons are even available to civilians. And soon we could lose the right to legally own them at all.

The Right to Bear Arms

I am absolutely an advocate of all law-abiding citizens having the right to keep and bear arms, and I believe in freedom and the Constitution as it was written by our Founding Fathers. My opposition to open carry is that I view the practice as tactically unsound, and I believe that its application might strengthen the resolve of those for stricter gun control laws.

In a decent and civil society, some regulation is necessary. If you feel the need to carry an exposed firearm to a parade or into a diner, I can assure you that there will be many people offended or frightened by your presence. Men like me will be making a plan to kill you if need be.

In Idaho both open carry and concealed carry are legal. Any person over the age of 18 may carry a concealed weapon anywhere in the state, without a permit. Yet violent crime is among the lowest in the nation, proving that gun violence has little to do with restrictive gun laws. Compare your state here.

Open Carry vs. Concealed Carry

Hardened criminals are often as observant as cops.

The open carry civilian with a .45 on his side who happens upon a bank or liquor store robbery stands a good chance of taking a bullet to the head before the robbery even starts.

He’s already been identified by the layoff man or woman, someone standing in line who appears to be a customer but is ready to take out any threat that arises. Mr. Open Carry will never break leather—he won’t have a chance. Every cop knows this to be a fact. We are trained in the academy to be observant of layoff persons in any robbery situation. Most civilians have never heard the term.

Cops also know that the element of surprise is paramount, as does every crook and predator. To me, those who are serious about protecting themselves and their loved ones know to maintain the element of surprise, and most importantly, to avoid all conflict if able.

Open carry goes against both of those principles. The practice can put you at the center of any conflict whether or not you are prepared, committed, or aware of it, and it could potentially draw you into a conflict that otherwise might not even exist.

I look forward to your comments.

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Thank you for reading my blog. I hope you will share it with your family and friends.













Death after dishonor



27 thoughts on “Open Carry

  1. Seeing someone who isn’t in a military or LEO uniform carry any firearm openly in an urban situation makes me nervous. I always wonder if the person carrying is properly trained to shoot, and if they are someone who would remain calm & make the best possible decision before shooting. I usually try to move away from folks I see openly carrying.

    On the other hand, since a private citizen cannot get a Concealed Carry permit if you live in LA County, you are forced into Open Carry, if you feel you need to carry a gun.

    I ride & pack horses & camp with groups in the Sierras. We usually make certain at least one rider is carrying, in case of rattlesnake or other problematic wildlife encounters. But, if the person carrying throws on a long coat, guess what? Suddenly, because of weather, he or she is illegally carrying a concealed weapon.

    Some of these laws/rules don’t quite follow practicality.

    And yes, we had a problem occur, when a lone volunteer who was openly carrying was manning an otherwise empty Ranger Cabin at a trail crossroads & campground. A hiker & his son came through, saw the gun & complained to authorities. They claimed our friend threatened them with the gun, & told them to stay away from “his cabin.”

    No other witnesses, and so our group had to promise authorities to leave the “offending” member at home on our next trip or none of us could return. The biggest problem in CA obviously is maintaining both good relationships to access trails AND to not lose your liability insurance over the reports of negative incidents.

    Frankly, we caught this group member violating laws, rules and courtesy, so he wouldn’t have been invited again anyway.

    1. Very interesting dynamics in CA. So is open carry legal there? Or just in rural areas? I don’t remember it being legal when I was still a cop there, at least not in the cities. Which, to the point of the blog, is where I am against open carry. There is an absolute reason to carry open in many situations in rural America, and nobody should be able to take that right away. Which is the other point: Some of these open carry people are our worse enemies when it comes to the war on gun rights.

      Thanks, Valerie.

  2. Been to States and other Countries that allow and forbid open/concealed carry. My thoughts…. legally keep your personal protection concealed. Open carry for uniformed military and law enforcement is obviously appropriate. As well as civilians at an organized shooting event. I don’t feel the need to open carry at Walmart or Tractor Supply. Hide in plain sight and be legally armed… drop someone if necessary and move on.

  3. I live in the UK which does not advocate gun toting civilians the right to bear arms & protect your home & family. If a violent criminal is carrying semi automatics, an RPG & is dragging a Gatling gun behind him whilst crossing the boundary to my home, I have no right to slap him let alone shoot him.

    There have been several cases of burglars being confronted by homeowners wielding baseball bats & it is the homeowner who receives the greater sentence as it is deemed to be premeditation or some such nonsense! From what I can gather from our badly written laws, the perpetrator is nearly always in the right as his aim is to steal but not to shoot! Why bring a loaded gun???

    Be warned, if you enter my home without a strict invitation then I am going to have to ….. raise my voice & make polite conversation while you continue to take everything of sentimental value because that’s the stupid British law system, at it’s finest!

    I direct you to observe any of the many news channels covering the small issue of BREXIT – I bet that makes every American proud that they have Trump at the helm & not David Cameron or Teresa May or Boris Johnson.

    Whilst we may not have the right to possess / carry guns, it has allowed knife crime to rapidly escalate to the stage where the news headline involves dead people every single day!

    In my opinion (& I do have a lot of opinions & lots to say LOL), no matter what the weapon of choice, in the wrong hands, people die, innocent people die so whether you carry your weapon visibly or concealed, there is a real chance that today is the day you could kill someone …..

    1. I was on a panel with some other coppers a few years ago at Bouchercon and the gut from England mentioned going to a domestic where the male suspect was armed with a knife. The police officer said all he had to defend himself was pepperspray and his knowledge of hand-to-hand combat. (He looked like a pretty tough guy and he was sitting there so I guess he made out all right.) The moderator asked how i, as a member of American law enforcement, would have regarded the knife wielding suspect. I replied that I would have told him he’d brought a knife to a gunfight. 😉 I can’t imagine how the police in the UK do it. They are a brave lot.

      1. Likewise, I was speaking to a “Bobby” and I asked, what do you do if you stop someone and they have a gun? He said, “I let him go. What do you want me to do, blow my bloody whistle at him?”

  4. Danny, I agree with you and glad to see you have put it down in writing. Open carry, I have always thought was a bad idea.
    I.E. A Pit Bull does not have to bark.

  5. Many quite normal people have a serious fear of guns. Many open carry people know this, and use it to boost their egos through intimidation. Who needs a gun on open display in public?

    Answer: Someone with a broken ego.

    1. Have some friends from Canada… a non-gun Country for the most part. She saw my .45 sitting on the kitchen counter and actually paled at the sight of a handgun (imagine a pale Canadian,,,,, would make her almost translucent). She says, “What is that doing in your kitchen?” Absolutely nothing, but if someone comes in the door or tries to harm you, your husband, me or my dog, I will make it work. A weapon is no more than a tool…. sometimes you need a screwdriver, a wrench or a gun. Depends on what the job is….. Simple.

  6. All of your points are right on, brother. I think somebody walking around with a rifle slung over his shoulder in an urban area is totally out of line with sensible behavior, unless he’s in a combat zone. As you said, open carry fans the flames of anti-gun hysteria and should be discouraged unless you’re wearing a uniform or have your badge fitted on your belt. I agree with everything you said.

  7. Over the years, I worked several cases where the suspect settled an argument with a bullet rather than choosing the less-likely-to-be-lethal option of a physical fight.
    When adrenaline and an over-inflated ego are mixed together and make rational thinking difficult, a good percentage of people carrying a gun are much more likely to reach for the gun rather than opt to physically fight or take flight.

    As for assault rifles–there is absolutely zero-need for anyone to walk around in public with one. People who do this are no different than the wannabe-thugs who walk around in public with aggressive pit bulls or rottweilers on a tight leash–a leash they are struggling to control–to intimidate other people.

    I also worry over those who open carry ANY type of weapon and who are the type to look for opportunities to play the hero–the ones who “always wanted to be a cop,” who happen upon a crime in progress, and decide they and their gun will confront the would-be criminal.

    I would love to see laws in place that required gun owners to pass an annual weapons certification course that included targets, scenarios and reiterating gun laws–much like LEO’s have to do.
    I’d also love to hear a rational argument opposing such a law because I seriously can’t come up with a logical argument to it.

    I don’t have ANY problem with someone owning or carrying a gun. I just want them to be at least semi-sane and have had some type of formalized training and be certified by an expert.

    1. Why would someone open carrying be more likely to be a ninja type than someone carry concealed? There’s no logic in that assertion, only prejudice.

  8. If a person hopes to be of any use they can’t run around with a chip on their shoulder or a target on their chest. Seems like common sense. But nowadays that is a rare commodity where hysteria rules the day.

  9. I don’t live in the USA but do not support open carry. It does lead to worries of a return to a modern day wild west where the victim’s weapon can be added to the one’s carried by the attacker and if it’s a no certificate weapon then no one knows what they’ll be up against or where it came from. There will always be an element in society who see a weapon as some sort of status symbol but as you rightly pointed out it takes time and experience as well as training to deal with this. City crime is always higher but it is not exclusive to anywhere. Our country gun club slaughters a great deal of targets on a Sunday but it’s the noise you hear that makes you think what if …

  10. Very well articulated as usual.
    Because you can—-doesn’t mean you should.
    It’s a BAD tactical decision and a BAD political strategy.

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