So, here we are in an age where carrying a gun has become increasingly both necessary and socially unacceptable. Damned if you do and damned if you don't. Or maybe it should be "frowned on if you do and DEAD if you don't". Some of us are so eager to please others or at least reluctant to offend them, that we either don't carry at all (unless we're with a certain group of friends) or are paranoid about someone seeing it or finding out about it. Carrying concealed or openly is, for the most part, purely a personal decision but I would like to try to clear the water a bit for those that are struggling with this decision.
I carry both openly and concealed, depending on the circumstances. Openly about 99.975% of the time and concealed for those few times when I think it would be prudent. I am not against carrying concealed (CC), I just don't usually see the point in it where I live. When I go to some larger cities or areas where I am in close proximity to hordes of people that I don't know, I may carry concealed. When I go to the theater, I conceal. Not because it’s law but because it’s common sense.
I simply cannot believe the excuses and hype that I hear from some folks when this subject comes up. I guess carrying a gun is something relatively new for lots of folks. In many places, especially out here in the West, putting your gun on every day and wearing it openly is no different than putting on your hat or a pair of gloves or a tool-belt. The never-ending drivel about tactical advantages and disadvantages and making yourself a target sickens me. Certainly there are times and places where carrying openly may not be the best thing but come on!
How in the world can one believe that we should have a right and then, in the same breath, say that it is one that should go un-exercised? That is one of the most ridiculous things that I have ever heard. Like any other right (or muscles), if they are not used, they will be weakened or lost.
Some say there could not possibly be a single tactical advantage to OC. Is that because your favorite gun-writer says so? They say it very definitively like it was some kind of proven statistic. It is not. I've heard this statement many times and it still doesn't make any sense. You cannot possibly have a clue as to how many crimes or attacks have been prevented because the would-be perpetrator saw someone with a gun in the area and changed his mind. If you were intent on robbing a store or a bank, would you go ahead with your plans if you saw someone standing in line wearing a gun? Of course not! Yes, I have no doubt that a "team" or a small country that wanted to knock off Ft. Knox would not let one civilian with a gun slow them down but the fact is, most people that perform these kinds of crimes are punks and cowards or too smart to want to get involved in a shoot-out. It MIGHT hold true in a very few isolated instances but that is for you to decide when the time comes.
Then there are those that claim that carrying openly makes you a target and that you'll be the first one taken out. I say balderdash. Is it possible? Sure. Is it likely? About as likely as getting hit by lightning twice I think. If someone just wants to kill someone, they will. There are hundreds of interviews of convicted felons where they have said that they would not or did not carry out a plan due to employees or occupants or customers being armed. Can you count on not being a target? Certainly not. Nor can you count on not becoming a target if you are carrying concealed or not carrying at all. Possibly, the perpetrator, upon seeing a gun, changed his mind and a shooting was averted. Possibly not. Possibly, because you were carrying concealed, the crook was a little braver and you were forced into a shooting. To exclaim that you are certain of either is the height of arrogance and cannot be proven.
Carrying either way is a personal choice and one is taking a bit of a chance by doing either. It comes with the territory but I will say this... if you choose to carry openly, there is generally a lifestyle change that comes with that decision. You must be willing to dedicate 100% of your attention to your gun and your surroundings, 100% of the time! There is no room inattentiveness or "Condition White", as they call it.
I think the biggest difference in some folks' opinions and mine is our locations. If I lived somewhere that I thought it was as bad as some make it out to be, I would move. Nobody cares here. As I mentioned above, I have carried openly every single day from 1994 to present and I’ve had maybe 2 or 3 negative comments, in nearly 20 YEARS! Arizona, Wyoming, New Mexico, Colorado, etc, etc. Same story. I guess the bottom line is, I will NOT live where carrying a gun in the open scares people as bad as some claim that it does. If I lived in St. Louis, maybe I wouldn't carry but I WOULDN'T live there so it doesn't matter.
No, I don't intentionally TRY to offend folks. I just don't care if I do. I don't fart at the table and I don't say certain words around women and kids. When I am in someone's home, I do as they wish. If that bothers me, I leave. When they come to my house, I expect them to conduct themselves in a manner that is consistent with how we live. However, I don't think exercising a right can be compared to fartin' and cussin' but common sense has to factor in somewhere too. People are offended by guns because of emotion, not morals or scruples. As far as I'm concerned, when we worry about how much we offend them, they have won.
This is the reason that we will never win all of our rights back without bloodshed. Because the gun-grabbers all agree on one thing and we can't agree on anything. Some gun owners think it's OK to own pumps and lever guns but not semi-autos. Some say it's OK to have shotguns but not black rifles. Some say 10 round mags are OK but not 30 rounders. Some say it's OK to carry a gun as long we don't offend anyone and others don't care. As for me and my house, it's all or nothing. I'm tired of compromising. It's not working.
Be that as it may, you may be interested to know that I addressed this very thing on a radio show that I hosted in New Mexico some years ago. I said even though it was legal and we had a right to carry openly just about anywhere, it wasn't necessarily the right thing to do in some cases. I said that those that wave the Constitution in everyone's face and say the 2nd amendment is their carry permit are going to eventually disarm all of us. I admonished those that were so inclined to either carry concealed or don't take their gun in places like theaters, churches, Boys and Girls Clubs, etc. NM’s CCW law states, as most do, that if a business or individual puts up a sign saying "No Guns" that means no guns, openly or concealed, permit or not. So, if we walk in someplace that is NOT posted and try to force our right to carry on them, all they have to do is put up a sign and your right to carry is gone without changing the law. At least in that particular place. THAT's why I don't open carry in the theater.
To that end, I very much encourage people to carry concealed under those circumstances. I never encourage people to carry openly except by saying that it is your right and if you want to, you should exercise that right. As far as just walking down the street and tending to my normal business, I absolutely will NOT carry concealed just for fear of hurting someone's feelings.
The difference here is that a lot of folks don't seem to support my right as I have clearly supported theirs. If some of you think that there is some perceived tactical advantage to being concealed, that's OK with me, I just don't agree. I won't call you dumb or disparage you in any manner. As I have said more than once, there may be a handful of cases out there where that has proven to be the case but to say that carrying openly has NEVER given an advantage is ridiculous because it cannot be proven either way.
As I also said, location has a lot to do with this. Some are afraid to carry openly even where it is legal because of what the cops MIGHT say. THAT is where I have a problem. I was pulled over in a little town in NV late one night by a female officer. She asked me to get out and, since I was carrying openly, I told her that I was wearing a gun and asked if that was OK. She got kind of smart and said, mockingly, "You're wearing a gun and is that OK?" I said , "Yes, Ma'am". She told me to get out and keep my hands where she could see them (like that would do her any good if I had less than honorable intentions) and called in my information. She called back-up and when he got there, we discussed the finer points of the Glock vs. the 1911 and he finally left when he decided that she didn't really need any back-up. When she handed my license back, she said, "So why are you carrying a gun?" to which I asked, "Why are you?". She said, "Because I'm law enforcement and I HAVE to". I said, "Well, I'm a citizen and I GET to". She had nothing on me and we both went our merry ways.
I was stopped another time by a State cop in NM for a faulty tail light. I told him that I could fix it on the spot if he would allow me to. He said OK, and I told him I was carrying before I got out. He said that for his safety, would I unload the gun and give it to him and I told him, "No, sir" and then went to explain that my vehicle was considered an extension of my home in this state and that I would be glad to leave it in the truck while I got out to fix the light. I didn't give him time to reply and he was in a position of advantage so I turned the inside light on and slowly and deliberately took the gun out and slid it between the seats. When I got out, I locked the doors and left the keys in the ignition so NO ONE could get them. Once I fixed the light, I thanked him, took the spare key out of my wallet and unlocked the door and left.
There is rarely any issue with LE in the southwest if you conduct yourself properly and confidently.
There are a select few states that allow it's citizens to carry their weapons out in the open but there is a select FEWER that choose to exercise that right for fear of hurting someone's feelings.
There are quite a few establishments nowadays that choose to post signs that prohibit the carry of firearms, openly or concealed, within their walls. This is another of the many things that gives me deep and lasting indigestion. If you don't want to be robbed or have a disgruntled employee take out his frustration on your patrons, why do you create such a hazard-free environment for those that might perpetrate such a crime? Do you seriously think that a guy intent on robbing your store, or worse, is going to walk up to your door, see your "No Guns" sign and say, "Oh darn , I sooooooo wanted to rob this place but the sign says I can't even bring my gun in so I guess I'll just have to go somewhere else?". No, by posting that sign, you have pretty much assured the criminal that there is little, if any, chance that he will be confronted. When trained, credible, responsible citizens carry their weapons in your store and give you their business, you should be grateful that, at least for the time that they are present, your business is protected, at least from violent crime. Most of us will not shoot someone for stealing money as it is replaceable and probably insured. However, I have never met a legitimate gun-toter that would not intervene if someone were to threaten innocents or start shooting.
I think that many post those signs because of fear of the image that some of the patrons might get, not for liability reasons. Obviously, some are for insurance reasons
It is my opinion that if those who do carry regularly WOULD carry openly more often, it would help to desensitize those whom some people are afraid they are going to offend. Well, it offends ME when someone is offended by my carrying (which, as I said, is RARELY an issue here in the Southwest). I have my rights just like they have theirs. They have the right to get up and go eat somewhere else if they happen to come into a restaurant where I am eating. They have the right to run home screaming if they see me walking down the street and I am armed. I, on the other hand, have the right to do anything that they can do and their being there doesn't affect me one way or the other. The reason that gun rights are in the shape that they are in is because we gun owners continuously pander to them and try to compromise to a point that is OK with them. We walk around and hide what we do or give certain rights away to retain others. That's not freedom to me.
I don't flaunt it as a few have said. I think that if one is going to carry openly that they should dress neatly and wear your gear professionally and conservatively. I don't think that it's appropriate to wear a 7.5” Super Blackhawk downtown in cheap nylon Wal-Mart holster. Yes, occasionally when I come in from hunting or something and I'm carrying a .44, I may stop to get a Coke or gas or something and I'm not going to take my gun off just because someone else may not approve of it but what I wear daily is a Glock 23 in a kydex belt holster with my shirt tail tucked in. I dress neatly and there is nothing threatening about my appearance (unless you feel threatened by someone that is 6’4”, 250 pounds and wearing a gun ). Once in a while, I get a question or two but I have yet to experience the fear and panic that some claim is going to happen.
Occasionally, someone tells me how much that they value the 2nd amendment. Well, so do I...as it was written, not as they would have me to accept it. Having said all that, I do believe that there are a very few places where it may be grossly inappropriate to carry openly like church or some business meetings or picking the kids up at the Boys and Girls Club. In those few places, I do carry but it is concealed. If it's an impromptu occasion, I simply un-tuck my shirt and let it cover the gun. If it's planned, like for church or some similar event, I wear a Glock 27 in a Blade Tech IWB holster and a jacket or vest.
I don't flaunt it, make a big deal out of it nor do I handle it in any manner when in public and I have NEVER had any problem.
I WILL NOT CRAWL AROUND AND EXERCISE MY GOD-GIVEN RIGHTS ONLY WHEN IT IS ACCEPTABLE WITH SOMEONE ELSE OR WHERE THEY CANNOT SEE
There are those who will not stand up for a passing flag unless a few people around them do. Well I am the one around them that is first to stand. I couldn’t care less what everyone around me does. I have a man to face every day in the mirror and someone else to face when I leave this world. I plan to be able to walk uprightly before Him and say that I have done the best I could to uphold and exercise the rights and freedoms that I was blessed with at my birth.
Open or concealed, I WILL carry. I don't ever want to have to say, "My little girl would have been 15 years old today if I had only had my gun with me that day"... No sir, somehow I just don't see that happening.
Cope Reynolds (Desertscout)
Southwest Shooting Authority of Arizona
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