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The Open Carry Argument

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Mainsail, Jun 16, 2008.

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  1. Mainsail

    Mainsail Member

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    My primary goal when I’m out and about (besides whatever I went out and about to do) is to go about peaceably and not be the victim of a violent crime. To that end I carry a firearm whenever I go out as well as follow all the other standard safety practices like maintaining situational awareness, staying out of high crime areas, and avoiding confrontation. I also have a larger overall goal of making it through my life without shooting anyone. Simply put, I don’t want to be responsible, legally or morally, for another’s death. Those two goals might appear at first blush to be mutually exclusive, and with concealed carry it would be a difficult set of goals to realize.

    Carrying a concealed firearm presents to a criminal that I am unarmed. Every study I’ve ever read, not most but every study, says that criminals will avoid an armed person or home when selecting a victim. That only makes sense, right? Robbers, rapists, or carjackers might be dumb and opportunistic, but they have the same instinctual sense of self preservation we all have. Hyenas don’t attack lions to steal the gazelle the lions have just killed. It’s all about risk management; are the potential gains (a tasty gazelle dinner) worth the potential pain and damage the lion’s teeth will cause, and does the hyena really need to test the lion to figure out the answer? No, the hyena can see the lion’s teeth and knows to stay well clear.

    Deterrent Value:
    When I’m carrying concealed I feel like my ‘teeth’ are hidden, and thus of no real deterrent value. If I appear unarmed then I am unarmed in the eyes of the robber, I appear as easy a target as almost anyone else out on the street. My probability of being a victim of a crime, violent or otherwise, is completely unchanged by the fact that I have hidden beneath my shirt the means to defend myself. My goal, however, is not to be a victim in the first place, remember? I don’t want to be a victim that fought back successfully and triumphed; I prefer to not be victimized at all. Concealed carry is good; it throws a wrench in the works for criminals who might see the teaming masses as a smorgasbord of financial gain. This deterrent effect is, nonetheless, indirect. At some point the thug will weigh the risks vs. the gains; is his current desperation for money/drugs/booze/gold grille greater than the gamble that one of those people might be carrying a gun? If he decides to play the odds, which helped along with surprise tip the scale in his favor, he will attack. Will his attack allow enough time for me to draw my concealed firearm to affect a defense? Maybe, but then again, maybe not.

    Remember, I don’t want to be a victim and I don’t want to shoot anyone. So how do I realize both goals; or how do I make them inclusive? I can do that through open carry. By making it clear and obvious that I am armed, that I have teeth, I tip the risk scale to the point that the criminal’s gains are far outweighed by the risk. There is no ambiguity when the thug is doing his risk assessment, there’s something right there in plain sight that can quickly and painfully change or terminate his life. You may not think his life has much value, but as I mentioned before, he has the same sense of self preservation as any other living creature and to him it’s every bit as valuable as yours is to you. It would be foolish to ignore this indisputable fact when you develop your overall tactical strategy.

    First One To Be Shot:
    There are some who criticize open carry and claim it will make you more of a target or ‘the first one shot’ when a robber walks into the 7-11, despite the absolute lack of credible evidence that this has ever happened. If the robber walks in and sees that you’re armed, his whole plan has encountered an unexpected variable. In bank robberies where he might expect to see an armed guard he will have already factored that possibility into his plan, but only for the armed guard, not for open or concealed carry citizens. No robber robs a bank without at least a rudimentary plan. Nevertheless, being present for a bank robbery is an extremely remote possibility for most of us regardless of our preferred method of handgun carry. Back in the 7-11, if he sees someone is armed he is forced to either significantly alter the plan or abort it outright. Robbing is an inherently apprehensive occupation, and one that doesn’t respond well to instant modifications. He is not prepared to commit murder when he only planned for larceny. He knows that a petty robbery will not garner the intense police manhunt a murder would. He doesn’t know if you’re an armed citizen or a police officer and isn’t going to take the time to figure it out. Either way, if someone in the 7-11 is unexpectedly armed, how many others might be similarly adorned and where might they be? Does this armed individual have a partner who is likewise armed behind him in the parking lot, someone who is watching right now? Self preservation compels him to abort the plan for one that is less risky. So we see that the logic matches the history; open carriers are not the first ones shot because it doesn’t make any sense that they would be.

    Surprise:
    Probably the most common condemnation of open carry comes from the armchair tacticians who believe it’s better to have the element of surprise in a criminal encounter. Although this was touched on in the previous paragraph about deterrence, I’ll expand on it specifically here because there are some important truths you need to consider before you lean too heavily on this false support. Surprise as a defensive tactic is based on unrealistic or ill-thought out scenarios. The circumstance where several street toughs surround and taunt you for a while like in some Charles Bronson movie is not realistic; the mugger wants to get in and out as fast as possible. In most cases you will have only seconds to realize what’s happening, make a decision, and react. Imagine you’re walking along the sidewalk when two gangsta looking teenagers suddenly appear at the corner coming in the opposite direction. You have only seconds to react if their intent was to victimize you. Do you draw your concealed firearm now or wait until there’s an actual visible threat? If they are just on their way to church and you pull a gun on them, you are the criminal and you may forever lose your firearms rights for such a foolish action. If you don’t draw and they pull a knife or pistol when they’re just a couple steps away, your only options are draw (if you think you can) or comply. Imagine staring at the shiny blade of a knife being held by a very nervous and violent mugger, three inches from your or your wife’s throat and having to decide whether or not you have time to draw from concealment. The element of surprise may not do you any good; in fact the only surprising thing that might happen is that your concealed carry pistol gets taken along with your wallet. The thug will later get a good chuckle with his buddies about how you brought a gun to a knife fight. The simple truth is that while surprise is a monumentally superior tactical maneuver, it is exclusively an offensive action, not a defensive one. I am not aware of any army that teaches using surprise as a defense against attack. No squad of soldiers goes on patrol with their weapons hidden so that they can ‘surprise’ the enemy should they walk into an ambush.

    It Will Get Stolen:
    Another common criticism of open carry is that the firearm itself will be the target of theft, prompting as criminal to attack simply to get the gun from you. Like the previous example of being the first one shot in a robbery, above, this is despite the fact that there is no credible evidence it happens. It also blindly ignores the more obvious fact that anything you possess can make you the target of a crime, be it a car, a watch, or even a female companion (girlfriend, wife, or daughter). Crooks commonly steal for only two reasons; to get something you have that they want, or to get something that you have so they can sell it and buy something they want. There are no Robins in the hood trying to help the poor by stealing from the rich. I don’t claim it could never happen; just that it’s so remote a possibility that it doesn’t warrant drastic alterations to your self defense strategies. If you believe otherwise, leave your watch, sunglasses, jewelry, and cell phone at home, hop into your Pinto wagon, and head out to do your thing.

    It Scares People:
    One other statement against open carry I hear is that it damages public perception of firearms owners, or that by carrying openly we are not being good ambassadors to the public. While there are some people who have a genuine fear of firearms, due either to some horrible past experience or anti-gun indoctrination, the majority of people are either indifferent to them or quite fascinated by them. I’ve never kept track of the dozens of fellow citizens I’ve encountered who have marveled at the idea of open carry, but I do know exactly how many have expressed displeasure at it; one. People are scared of many things for many reasons; however, pretending those things do not exist only perpetuates the fear. Someone who is disturbed by open carry is going to be every bit as disturbed by concealed carry. The only effective way to overcome a fear is to come to the intellectual realization that the phobia is based on emotion and not on fact. By being a firsthand witness that a firearm was carried responsibly and peaceably, and wasn’t being carried in the commission of a crime, one discovers their fear is not fact based, but emotional. Thus, open carry can be a very effectual way of helping to overcome the emotionally based fear of the firearm. After all, you’d be much more likely to believe in ghosts if you saw one rather than if you listened to a ghost story around a campfire. We give much more credibility to the things we experience than we do to the things we hear. The bottom line is that this argument is made by people who don’t or haven’t carried openly; those of us who do so on a regular basis have an entirely different experience.

    I’m Not Comfortable Carrying Openly:
    This is really the only reasonable argument against open carry for an individual. We all have a comfort zone for any aspect of our lives and we prefer to stay within that comfort zone. We all agree that it’s better to be armed and never need the firearm than it is to need it and not have it. There is a point where concealing your firearm becomes so problematic, due to conditions like temperature or comfort, that some choose to either leave it behind or carry in such a way that it would be difficult or impossible to draw it quickly. If it takes me five or six seconds to draw my firearm from deep concealment and I had sufficient time before hand to do so, I would prefer to use that five or six seconds to avoid the entire encounter. I’m glad we have concealed carry laws in most of the states; it empowers and protects not only us but the general public through the offset deterrent effect. Some of us, however, choose the more direct deterrent effect of open carry. The combination of the two makes the criminal’s job that much more risky, that much more dangerous, and that much more uncertain.
     
  2. freakshow10mm

    freakshow10mm member

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    Great post. I like these sentences the most:

     
  3. Tribal

    Tribal Member

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    A subtle yet too-often forgotten fact.
     
  4. brighamr

    brighamr Member

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    Mainsail - I agree with you completely
     
  5. WayneConrad

    WayneConrad Member

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    Tactics depend critically upon your environment. Some of the bugaboos (the snatch, the shoot-you-first, etc.) brought up in criticism of open carry could, if open carry became common, come to pass. That is because criminals adapt. On the other hand, good guys adapt, too. At current, for most of us non-law enforcement types, they are just that: bugaboos. Great article, thanks.
     
  6. Dahwg

    Dahwg Member

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    Wow, one of the most succinct and well-written piece of OC apologetics I've ever read. Well said!
     
  7. tepin

    tepin Member

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    Great post!

    Do any of the cops here on THR open carry when off duty? If you do not, why? Department policy or another reason?

    The main reason I dont OC is to avoid interaction with LEO. When someone calls 911 because "THERE IS A MAN WITH A GUN!" it becomes a waste of time for me and the officers. Then after 45 minutes of screwing around to verify the permit, interviews etc... then comes the lecture and finally, "cops dont even open carry when off duty. I suggest you dont either".
     
  8. Mainsail

    Mainsail Member

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    I don’t know your state’s laws, but here in WA there shouldn’t be any interaction with an officer unless he has a reasonable articulable suspicion that there is a crime afoot. There is no firearms exception to the rules of a Terry stop. If open carry is legal the police cannot seize you.

    The one person I mention in paragraph eight was hissing into the telephone to the police about my open carry. They were telling her that they had no plans of coming to the park because there wasn’t a law being broken.
     
  9. drpaulHOO

    drpaulHOO Member

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    Yup, it would be great if society were more accepting of open carry. It's a lot more comfortable, too.

    Unfortunately, while it may be legal, there are many venues where you will get hassled for "brandishing" just by open carrying. Thus, the need to CCW.:banghead:

    Here's to global enlightenment! :D

    Paul
     
  10. Jenrick

    Jenrick Member

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    Great post Mainsail, well written.

    Tepin: I'm LE but Texas does not allow open carry except on your own property basically. As an LEO I can open carry, but department regs say no to that, unless I'm actually on duty (though we're technically always on duty so...). I'd probably open carry if it was allowed by law, for a lot of the reasons listed above. The one time I got into something off duty (http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=264617 if you're bored), the fact that I didn't have an immediately apparent weapon caused the subject to present a weapon. Had I had my weapon plainly visible I fully believe he would have never have done that and just kept running.

    I would probably avoid wearing my badge to ID me as LEO for various reasons, but I could care if they saw the gun. Most crooks are looking for someone who can NOT resist, only a few are evening willing to try someone that might be able to resist. Only the very new, the very stupid, and the suicidal are willing to go even odds with their intended victim. If I run into the last category I'd like to have my options handy and available.

    -Jenrick
     
  11. tepin

    tepin Member

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    I am in MN and you need a permit for open or concealed carry so this might explain a few things. We have always had a permit law but prior to 2003 (err 2005 - long story) the issue of permits was at the discretion of law enforcement so very few permits were ever issued. The finalized version of our current permit to carry law was passed in 2005. Needless to say, it would appear that the cops are still figuring out that (1) There is a permit law and (2) A person can carry concealed or openly :rolleyes: - Some folks have been threatened with a citation for disorderly conduct for open carry. Nice.
     
  12. JesseL

    JesseL Member

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    I vote that this be made a sticky!

    This is the most complete, articulate, and logical essay on the benefits of open carry/refutation of the imagined disadvantages of open carry, that I've ever read.

    Doesn't that illustrate the need to open carry? Do you really want to abdicate your rights that way?
     
  13. Saba

    Saba Member

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    Open/Carry

    This is one of the smartest posts I have seen. Well done for such a comprehensive lay out in your argument on whether to carry a weapon openly or concealed. I agree with the notion that carrying a self defense weapon, be it lethal or non lethal is primarily for deterence.
    No one carrying a weapon carries it with the intent to kill, that is an unfortunate last resort.
    Even though I personally dont carry a gun, instead I carry non lethal self defense weapons it is meant to have the same deterrent effect.

    So for the sake of the deterrence argument, weapons such as a taser gun can be an equally effective deterrent device in addition to the fact that is as amazing take down power should the need to use it arise.

    Saba
    Safetybasement.com - Self defense products, Law Enforcement gear, personal safety produts
     
  14. Oro

    Oro Member

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    Mainsail,

    Excellent. I feel the same way on most points you made, and try to convince others, too. Nice summary and a place to direct people .
     
  15. BrianB

    BrianB Member

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    Excellent explanation. I've been wondering how I'd make the choice IF/WHEN it presents itself in my state. Always kinda thought "concealed only", but now I'm rethinking that.

    Thanks,
     
  16. Dahwg

    Dahwg Member

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    I vote for a sticky of this post as well.
     
  17. Titan6

    Titan6 member

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    I realize that you want the public to overcome their fear of firearms but it seems unlikely that will happen. I don't know where you carry but East Coast cities result in a bit of animosity.

    I can not make people with emotional problems unafraid. I do have to deal with calming them down and their calling the police (sometimes the police respond even though they don't do anything). Still I like OC and will do it where the situation merits it.
     
  18. AZAndy
    • Contributing Member

    AZAndy Contributing Member

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    Here's why I carry concealed: I sometimes go to places where the powers that be would prefer that I not have a gun. This would include Indian reservations, Costco, work, and the like.

    Didn't see that addressed in an otherwise thoughtful and well-executed argument above.
     
  19. stephpd

    stephpd Member

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    Open Carry

    Very well written. Reasons for open carry vs concealed carry vary from person to person. Concealed carry boils down to not scaring the public and not wanting to have to deal with LEO's. Tactically open carry is the preferred method.

    I, for one, look like a biker, and as such lessen my chance of being a victim just by the way I dress. Open carry would be a big problem given my dress. Stereotypes run deep and I'm sure I would garner more then my fair share of attention having a gun at my side.

    As far as open carry on the east coast there are many finding that it's not a big a deal as some would make it. Some of my friends are testing the water and either people don't notice or they calm down and behave themselves. Some get nervous but they are a minority. It also makes a political statement and gets people to find out that it's legal.

    Now open carry isn't legal everywhere so it depends on the laws. Some states don't give you the choice.
     
  20. 3rdpig

    3rdpig Member

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    Personally I couldn't care less if you open carry or not. Why do you open carry people demand approval? You remind me of militant gay rights activists, it's not enough for you to have acceptance, you MUST have approval. Good luck with that.

    Also, if you think having a gun will deter all criminals you're a fool. Hardened gang members, meth heads, etc, etc, won't see that gun as a reason to leave you alone, they'll see it as a reason to attack you. They attack when they feel threatened, and an unknown person on their turf with a gun is threatening to them. They have numbers, they have no fear of death and some aren't human any longer. You can NOT expect them to behave like the muggers and stick up men from the 50's. But many open carry people deny this simple fact.

    Also, if you think you won't get negative attention then you've either been darn lucky or living in a coal mine. One of my best friends open carries and we've had three incidences in the last 5 years where there were some pretty unpleasant moments. And that's just when I was with him, I'm sure there have been others. Maybe you crave that kind of attention, God knows it takes all kinds to make up a world, but I for sure see it as a major drawback to open carry and it's the main reason why I don't.

    I'm not going to debate you point by point. Some of your points make sense, some are blinding wrong and you ignore other points entirely. There are pros and cons to open carry, denying the cons won't make them go away, but that seems to be your intended purpose. Again, good luck with that.

    I'm all for every good citizen carrying a gun, if open carry is your method I'm fine with that and I'll support your right to do it, but blinding yourself to the possible drawbacks of your chosen method is not a good thing.
     
  21. un_lucky

    un_lucky Member

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    Strong body language will help more than an exposed gun. Looking unsure or scared while OCing would not be very deterring.
     
  22. Samuel Adams

    Samuel Adams Member

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    +1
     
  23. Samuel Adams

    Samuel Adams Member

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    Less than high road here Mr. Pig.
     
  24. TallPine

    TallPine Member

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    Notwithstanding my personal preferences, it seems to have been working for them :p
     
  25. txgho1911

    txgho1911 Member

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    The arguments against OC very often mimic the venom included in the environmental global warming religion. These arguments against OC are just as valid.
    Approval in public? Like a presidency winning in a media controlled poll.
     
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