Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Meditations on Open Carry.

Seems like everyone's talking about open carry these days. I don't really have a dog in the open carry hunt, living in the Volksrepublik of MA as I do - I have this thing against getting proned out by a SWAT team - yet wanted to address some of the ideas and accusations being tossed around. This is one of those "hot button" issues where folks have strong, deeply-held convictions and often view contrary viewpoints as direct, personal affronts.

We'll start with the obvious disclaimer: Open carry should be legal in all 50 states. Period. The Second Amendment expressly mentions the right to keep and bear arms - there shouldn't even be a debate about the legality of open carry. That said, there are places where it's illegal (mystifyingly, both Texas and Florida fall into this category); places where it's legal on a technical level, but not advised (oddly enough, MA has no specific prohibitions against open carry); states where open carry is legal and completely accepted; and everything in between.

There have been instances of open carry being less-than-well-received even in states that are 2A friendly (NH, OH, and TN come immediately to mind) - which is why I, personally, don't care for open carry. There's too much fear, ignorance, and outright hostility towards guns and gun owners pretty much anywhere you go, and it's just too likely to result in an unpleasant confrontation with the police or a gun bigot. In my own opinion, the likelihood of having to face off against some tiny-brained hater or ignorant "respect mah authoritay" type outweigh the convenience of open carry. In my opinion.

For others, though, it's something they choose to do, and I say power to them. Yes, some take it to extremes, getting in people's faces and such, but I'd wager those folks are the far end of the bell curve. If the argument was about which gauge knitting needle made the best afghan, you know these people would INSIST that 6/0 is the ONE TRUE SIZE and that ANYONE who disagrees with you IS AN IDIOT and DOESN'T KNOW WHAT THEY'RE TALKING ABOUT. And they overuse the caps lock, too. Some folks just feel the need to be confrontational; I don't think it's necessarily because of open carry.

As to those who say "but it will alienate fence sitters", I'd offer that those "fence sitters" weren't people we were going to win over to the pro-2A side anyways. Very few people have problems with police officers or security guards carrying firearms openly; it's not the guns themselves that people have an issue with. If someone allegedly neutral on 2A issues is frightened over to the gun control side because they see a citizen openly carrying a firearm, they were never really on the fence in the first place.

I really don't understand why this is an issue. This should be one of those light-hearted back-and-forth issues like 9mm vs .45 ACP or Glock vs. 1911. I long for the day when the only response to seeing someone carring a firearm is "semi-auto or revolver?" If the switch were flipped tomorrow and open carry were made perfectly legal and unquestioned, my biggest problem would be deciding which gun to carry. And I'd need a whole boatload of nicer grips...

Until then, though, I'll keep my sidearm under wraps and my armed status as "unknown".

That is all.


Andrew said...

I haven't (yet) attempted OC in NH, but I keep thinking about it. One good thing about OC is that you no longer have to worry about accidentally "flashing" your CCW (which has dire consequences in MA). When I CCW in NH, I don't worry about my coat riding up on me, and in Walmart this past Saturday, I peeled off my sweatshirt for my seasonal 'flu shot (to prove to The Boy that shots don't hurt the indestructible Dad-inator), I exposed my belt-mounted OWB Glock for God and the world to see.

No fear.

Jay G said...


There's a gentleman who went by the handle of "doobie" who used to post over at Northeast Shooters forum who OC'd in NH.

He kept a running log of his confrontations with the police - at last count I think he'd had the cops called on him like six times.

Now, granted, he's one of those "in your face" kind of guys, so he may very well have it coming; however I distinctly remember there being a dust-up in a Manchester bookstore where a guy legally OC'ing had the cops called on him and was felony-stopped and disarmed.

I wouldn't do it, personally. There are just enough MAhole transplants and transients that the likelihood of someone freaking out and calling a "MAN WITH A GUN" call to the cops is pretty high.

JUST MY OPINION. Others have OC'd for years and years and never had so much as a sideways glance cast their way. It's just not for me in the current political climate...

Mike W. said...

"Others have OC'd for years and years and never had so much as a sideways glance cast their way. It's just not for me in the current political climate..."

I think much of that is both attitude and appearance. If you OC and are the kind of person who goes out looking for confrontation you're damn sure going to find it.

If you treat it as just something you do in while going about your usual routine I think confrontations are far less likely.

Anonymous said...

I think it all boils down to knowing the reason I carry a firearm. Open carry is frequently about making a political statement in addition to or instead of having a firearm for defensive use.

I generally save my political statements for the internet or conversation. I don't particularly see a defensive advantage or disadvantage to open carry--I may be the first target for the goblin as the gun-toter, or he may pass over me for someone else once he spots the piece on my hip (both valid arguments). I think open carry increases my likelihood of being spread-eagled on a traffic stop, and increases the chances of a police cruiser waiting for me outside Wally-Mart, so I carry concealed.

(I guess that makes me a moocher in one sense... I benefit from the "in your face" open carriers but avoid the confrontation myself. Oh well.)

The biggest problem that I have with open carry as a political statement is that it lends validity to the converse argument: are all these people *not* carrying openly-visible firearms making a statement *against* carrying?

(Robb's point about comfort is useful to note. The on-belt retention holster beats inside-the-waistband for comfort every time.)

So, the whole thing probably boils down to "exercise good judgment." And if you don't have good judgment, I'd rather you didn't carry a firearm anyway!

Andrew said...

Met Doobie at a Appleseed shoot. Good guy. Much more soft-spoken and down to earth than his antics would lead you to believe.

Jay G said...

Andrew, I actually met him at the Pumpkin shoot in 2007. He's much different IRL than online, definitely. I was extrapolating based on the tone of his posts on NES, as well as his posts detailing the situations...

Even so. If he was not confrontational when being detained for OC, that makes it all the worse for NH, does it not?

Atom Smasher said...

To me a large part of the argument boils down to "is it socially or culturally acceptable?" And in most places it's not. So I would tend to think I'd keep on the concealed side of the action unless I lived way out in the boonies.

I can't help but equate the "I should and so should you" aggressive Open Carry advocates with the more rabid supporters of gay "lifestyles". Most people in this country have the attitude of "Oh, yick, I don't care what you do at home, but I don't want to see that" about *most* open displays of affection, let alone the gay kind.

Likewise, sporting a gun on my hip and going down to the mall smacks to me of showing off. Perfectly legal in many places and I'm personally not going to say anything, but many people are going to be wishing you'd not bothered them with the display.

And again, that varies from place to place. On the prairie or ranch, not out-of-place. Downtown or on the bus, a little out-of-place, overall.


Anonymous said...

Come on, Jay, our President said to "get in their face and punch back twice as hard." :-)

We're here! We're armed! You better get used to it!

Mule Breath said...

While I understand your reluctance to OC, I'm not sure I agree with the rationale. A little exposure to irritants has in the past immunized the public to all sorts of stuff, and maybe the sight of a few more firearms sported legally on hips would encourage that immunization process.

On a side note, OC has not been illegal in Texas all that long. It was only when concealed carry by permit became law that we firmly lost the right to OC.

CAPTCHA = cootba

Ben (Chiller2) said...

Jay G
I not only want it legal but accepted.What do I mean by that? If someone calls in man with a gun the ask is he waving it around or threating anyone? No? then he is not committing a crime have a nice day and no LEO response needed.
WE don't have OC in SC would I open carry if we had it? Don't know but I wouldn't go to the lengths I go to now to conceal and worry as much about if it is showing or not.
What annoys me the most about the the anti OC people is that there seems to be either an undercurrent of shame that they are a gun owner or the opposite that having a gun no one knows about make them feel special and elite.

Jay G said...

Guys, I'm on your side, I really am.

I'm just a coward.

(But at least I admit it!)

I'm not willing to risk getting arrested or shot because of some trigger-happy "Only One". Not with my kids in tow.

Because even in a gun-friendly state like NH, folks still get pushed up against walls and on police cruiser hoods for committing the unpardonable sin of scaring the sheep.

It ain't right. It deserves to be fought against, no question about it.

But not by me, not now.

That's all I'm saying.

Adam - K3CAN said...

I've OC'd around Southern NH without any real negative experiences.

The only time I was addressed by a LEO was in Dover... If you count Parking Enforcement.
He approached me on a street corner about why I was carrying.
I explained, and he eventually left me alone.

As for normal people, no one seems to care.
Best Buy LP kept on eye on me once. A guy eating at BK asked me if I needed a permit to do that.

I OC'd in Cabela's one time... That, I'll admit, was interesting. The sales clerks had eyes like saucers, but nobody called the police.

I think your appearance makes a big difference regarding how others treat you. While OC'ing, I always wear a nice tucked-in shirt and clean pants, and I'm clean shaven.
I wouldn't be surprised if I was treated different if I was dressed in over-sized sweatpants, an NWA hoodie, and a cooked baseball cap.