Monday, August 17, 2015

Why I Will Never Open Carry: 5 Reasons (A Rebuttal)

This is a rebuttal to an article on, Why I Will Never Open Carry: 5 Reasons. The original piece is basically an attack on open carry, thinly veiled as personal opinion, but using specious logic to justify what ultimately is a personal choice in mode of carry.

First off, as the article states, Concealed Nation is about concealed carry, not open carry. It has its interests to protect. Additionally, the author Brandon states that “I am not against open carry, it’s just simply not for me.” That’s fine, but we don’t need an article to tell us how you justified your opinion phrased like those who carry openly are doing things wrong. The article was preaching to the concealed carry supremacist choir on why their particular religion is the only way. If you've seen my website, you'll quickly see I don't favor one method over the other.

Let’s get a couple things straight. First, we’re not discussing open carry of long-guns, which is what most lay people tend to picture as open carry for some reason. For various different reasons, that is alarming and controversial to the public. The open carry of rifles into Chipotle versus a guy running errands with his H&K USP .40 on his belt are two totally different topics.

Second, geographical considerations must be made. Open carry is going to be a lot more controversial in Texas than it is in Nevada or Arizona. People are much more likely to freak out in a place where the culture frowns on open carry. On the other hand, to remind people it’s totally harmless and used to be a normal part of life, some Texans will have to thumb their noses at the naysayers and start open carrying.

Most of the objections to open carry are rooted in off-duty police officer’s opinions. Cops are a huge element in the concealed carry culture and moonlighting or retired cops often work as concealed carry instructors, passing along their opinions and biases to their students, most of whom are just average Joes. Cops have a vested interest in not being identified off-duty. Would you want your customers to bug you, especially if ‘bugging you’ could mean violence? Of course, this is mostly a problem in anti-gun states and a relic from decades past when mostly it was just cops carrying.

The arguments are overlapping and repetitive. Numbers 1, 3, and 5 are essentially “I don’t want the bad guy to know I have a gun”, while Numbers 2 and 4 are basically “I don’t want everyone else to know I have a gun.” Those are the concealed carry supremacist objections to open carry in a nutshell.

“1. I like the element of surprise”

Concealed carry supremacists like to think that a bad guy will assume them to be unarmed and either ignore them totally or pay less attention to them. The concealed carrier will then draw his weapon and fire, hopefully arranging a totally unexpected ‘surprise’ meeting with either Jesus or the Devil for the criminal. Of course, they imagine these who were openly carrying are now lying dead on the floor.

This whole scenario depends on the skill of the concealed carrier, his situational awareness, as well as the situational awareness of the bad guy. I think this is a whole fantasy that the concealed carrier will be minding his own business, the shit will hit the fan, and then they can pull out their gun and be the hero. In their minds, the poor open carrier will be too busy checking out Call of Duty 27: Romans vs. Internet Marines to notice the hoodie wearing thug trying to knock over Best Buy.

Surprise depends totally on circumstance, situational awareness, the skill not to fumble your draw, and luck.

See number 5 for more on this topic.

“2. I don’t like drawing attention to myself”

This statement comes from someone who probably hasn’t open carried before or much at all. I liken it to someone who covers up their sleeve tattoos to look “more respectable” and avoid judgment or a woman who, sensing male eyes on her cleavage, suddenly readjusts her low-cut top. Ever notice all the shirts with provocative 2A/Patriot slogans like “Don’t Tread on Me”, “F--- Isis”, or “I’m Pro-Gun, Something Something, Second Amendment?” Isn’t that drawing attention too?

I don’t open carry because I want people to pay attention to me (though it would be really, really great to meet a cute gun loving woman). I started openly carrying a pistol while waiting for my concealed firearm permit. Boldly I went forth, constantly scanning for threats and potential soccer moms who wanted to give me a tongue lashing. Nobody said anything, no one called the police.

The vast majority of people don't care. One day, I decided to ‘out’ myself to my liberal girlfriend (now ex) from California who said nothing about me carrying around Fresh and Easy. She actually was interested in going to dinner with the open carry group I’m a part of to see what it was like. And yes, I’m a total moron for letting her get away from me. Sorry Rachel. On the other hand, I had another date totally freak out when she felt my concealed pistol on my hip during a hug.

Having done nothing rebellious during my teens, I open carry now as an inward gesture to ‘sticking to the man’ for frowning on armed citizens and open carry. 'Attention' is about 10% of my reason for open carry, but as I mentioned above, since no one cares, it's kinda moot. Even so, open carrying a revolver with cartridge belt in full cowboy get up on Las Vegas’ Fremont Street while a concert was going on drew only the attention of women and a couple tourists who supported the 2nd Amendment.

I’m a dude who finds an openly carried gun to be more comfortable than a full-size Glock stuffed in my pants. Normalization isn’t my thing and I’m not trying to draw attention to ‘the cause.’ Yes, I’m prepared to talk about open carry and hand out cards for my website, but frankly, I simply go about my business. And you know what? No one cares (at least in a negative way; I’ve gotten lots of positive comments). A glance down at my waist and the observer simply goes back about their business.

Worrying about what others think is really self-absorbed. Only in a social environment where opinions do matter (such a family, church, work) should others’ opinions be given consideration. I guess the objection is that it could trigger emotion reactions to guns, thus damaging reputations or that the gun, in certain circles, could become the focus of negative attention, much like conservative grandparents criticizing their granddaughters new eyebrow piercing and tattoos. But strangers? Forget them.

I’ll be the first to admit I’d rather not have a co-worker see me carrying openly. A lot of the people I work with are the kind with big mouths who would say things at work and cause problems. While I obey the short-sighted policy of the company and remain disarmed (because liability is more important than lives), I really, really don’t want to have to lift up my shirt and twirl in a circle in front of my boss or deal with the inane comments some of the office jackasses would make.

The debate is largely a matter of taste and environment. A citizen carrier with anti-gun customers or friends may want to protect themselves without alienating others. Some may feel uncomfortable carrying openly. Whatever the choice, it is a personal one and not to be judged or criticized.

“3. I maintain the upper hand while carrying concealed”

This objection is a misnomer and as Brandon refers to number 1, they tie in together. He says that concealed carry gives him control, and then uses an example where he is ordered to the ground by a robber. That’s losing control right there. Then, while the robber is momentarily distracted, he will draw his firearm and shoot the robber. Yeah, I guess that could happen.

His example against open carry is that three bank robbers walk in, see the open carrier, and blast him. What if they just start randomly shooting people? In that situation, regardless of how or even if I was carrying, I’d be scrambling for cover or an exit.

See number 5 for why this isn’t exactly a plausible scenario. Both of these scenarios are implausible and either way you go, you’re screwed. Concealed carry might have the theoretical advantage here, but statistically speaking it is very, very unlikely and can be mitigated by situational awareness.

“4. I don’t like people knowing that I have a firearm”

See number 2 for my explanation on civilians not wanting other people to know they are carrying.

This assumption is generally false in the absence of evidence that an openly carried weapon leads to victimization. Abundant evidence is available that open carry is indeed a deterrent to crime. Concealed carry lacks that deterrent factor. The 'gray man' element, appearing unremarkable and blending in with the crowd, only has application when one may be specifically sought out; such as in the case of a police officer. The desire not to be spotted carrying a firearm or otherwise identified typically comes from the police influence in the concealed carry training world.

“5. I don’t want to make myself a target”

The number one reservation and objection to open carry is that people are afraid of being the first person targeted by a shooter.

A concealed carrier is just as likely to be a target as anyone else who is unarmed. Blending in with the sheep only has advantages for those who know they are going to be targeted anyway. A wolf will still attack another wolf in sheep’s clothing, but that same wolf isn’t going to go after another wolf that looks just as fierce as him.

Brandon posits that the shooter will likely be suffering from tunnel vision induced by an adrenaline rush and thus fail to notice the gun on someone's hip. Cell phones and pouches on the belt are common and a gun could be mistaken for a phone (vise versa). Allegedly, this is in the open carrier's favor. This goes along with Team Open Carry’s argument that most people are too oblivious to notice an openly carried gun. Both are kind of falling short of reality.

The Bank Robber

Reality does not confirm this. I've worked actual bank robberies. Robbers have either extensively planned out their crime or have at least cased the location. They wait until there are no cops around and pick the best times for their crime. They want as little resistance as possible as their goal is to score, not kill people. That makes it harder for them to make their score and successfully get away. It is more advantageous for them to pay attention, size up the situation, and wait until any potential threat leaves, rather than execute an armed citizen and instantly complicate their plot at its inception.

Think about how you would rob a bank. Would you go in without any idea of what awaited you, shooting away? Or would you case the bank first, check for security guards, cameras, etc., then try to sneak in undetected and delay the firefight until the last possible second? Of course you would! Experienced criminals want to survive and leave with the greatest chance of a clean getaway—none of these things entail an opening act of shooting an open carrier in the back of the head.

Most robbers or terrorists who are likely to preemptively ambush an open carrier have the tenacity to succeed at their diabolical goal, concealed carry hero in the crowd or not. Those not specifically looking for a fight will wait or walk away if they see an open carrier. Not every bank robbery is like Point Break.

The Addict

Those who would kill an armed citizen on sight are probably going to be the ones doped up or otherwise too nervous to notice someone who is nonchalantly carrying a holstered pistol. A magical discovery of the open carrier would have to come into play and intertwine with said open carrier’s total lack of situational awareness.

Most criminals who kill do so on impulse. They are the ones who are desperate and/or high, rushing into a liquor store for a quick score. These are the ones who shoot at compliant, unresisting clerks—the ones startled by a frightened customer, who they quickly ventilate in a panic. Those are the wild cards that only a fast draw from behind cover and an accurate shot can deal with. Even so, these people are so emotionally and psychologically all over the map they are just as likely to crap themselves at the sight of a gun.

The Terrorist

Terrorists are another story. They are the ones most likely to target open carriers. However, I would hope that the average citizen carrier has the presence of mind to notice the Middle Eastern dude or white kid with the crazed look in his eye whipping an AK-47 out of a duffle bag. For the terrorist scenario to be plausible, the terrorist would have to blend in until it was time to ‘go loud’, surveilled the area, ID the open carrier, and hopefully draw and fire without the armed citizen noticing. From the attacks I’m aware of, the shooters came in guns blazing (of course, these were mostly gun-free zones). Watch the video of the North Hollywood Bank shootout and tell me that you wouldn’t notice two dudes in body armor with automatic rifles walk into the bank.

I’ll sum this up another way: how many open carriers have been ambushed and shot versus how many unarmed citizens killed?

5b. Gun Snatchings

Two cases of open carriers being robbed (or attempts at robbing them) of their weapon have occurred recently. The first was in Oregon, which occurred on a street corner where a young man was showing off his new, unloaded pistol to a friend in the middle of the night. The second one was in Washington where a deranged man approached a man who was open carrying and, as far as we can tell, tried to snatch the gun.



The 21 year old victim had purchased the gun earlier in the day. At 2 AM he was on a street corner with his cousin when he was approached by another male who, after asking for a cigarette (a common ruse to get close to someone without making them suspicious of ill-intent), brandished his own gun and robbed the young man of his new pistol. Thanks to sound-byte reporting, we don’t have all the details, just a brief blurb about the basics.

There is enough information in the article to lead me to believe this was not an incident of a person open carrying a loaded firearm for self-defense. No mention was made if the weapon was loaded or even holstered. Comments around the internet lead me to believe this wasn’t exactly a great area of town. Also, nothing good happens after midnight, or so the saying goes.

Rather this reads as a young man, unprepared to use the gun he was carrying, inexperienced with guns, showing it off to his cousin. On a street corner, in the middle of the night. That whole thing should sound fishy on its face.


A Washington State open carrier, Brandon Walker, was attacked recently in the sport goods section of a Wal-Mart, while shopping with his children. A disheveled man, Trevor Zumwalt, came into the aisle and approached Walker. The man eye contact with the citizen carrier several times. Zumwalt then drew a baseball bat from the rack and raised it to a swinging position. Walker realized this was an attack, so he stepped into the swing to lessen the force of the impact and turned his shoulder to take the hit from the bat.

Walker was carrying a Sig Sauer P226, a double-action pistol, with an unloaded chamber. After the initial swing, Walker drew his pistol, racked the slide, aimed it at Zumwalt, and ordered Zumwalt to the ground. Zumwalt complied. Walker had a Wal-Mart manager call the police, who arrived and arrested Zumwalt, who is now facing felony assault charges.

Walker will not be carrying openly anymore. He feels that he was targeted by Zumwalt (and he's probably right), yet not carrying concealed is not a mistake. Situational awareness saved Walker's life. However, what the hell is someone doing carrying a gun without a round in the chamber? If you are too frightened to carry ready for action, you probably shouldn't be carrying at all.

Concealed Carry Isn’t a Cure-All

Oh yeah, don’t forget the guy in Florida who was carrying concealed, but was spotted holstering his weapon, and tackled by another wackjob crying wolf, earning himself a mental health hold and an assault conviction. We hear stories all the time about concealed carriers who end up shooting someone, saving their skins or saving the day. How many of these shootings could have been avoided if the suspect knew their ‘victim’ was armed? Frankly, I’d rather not shoot anyone at all, and if an openly carried gun and situational awareness can do that for me, I’ll stick firmly on the OC side of the OC/CC debate. Until more details emerge, or we have regular stories about open carriers getting their guns snatched, I am not going to worry.

(UPDATE: ConcealedNation posted this story about a concealed carry who was disarmed during a gun fight).

The advantage of concealed carry lies in the fact that it may be possible to carry in places where open carriers would be shunned or asked to leave, such as casinos. Legally speaking (in Nevada), the advantage is with open carry, yet due to modern sensitivities, the discreet option of undetected concealed carry would prevent any debates with anti-gunners or objections to having the weapon on private property where the owner/management might prohibit it. Also, given one’s choice of dress or activities, concealed carry may be more appropriate.

At the heart of the argument, people just don’t feel comfortable having an exposed handgun. Their reasons are various and frankly, the only one that has real merit across the board is personal comfort. If you don’t feel comfortable with open carry, then don’t, but don't sell you choice with bad logic and mistruths. As a devout Christian myself, I don’t feel any need to put a fish symbol on my bumper or a John 3:16 decal on the window. Some feel that the gun would become an elephant in the room, and while it might or might not, the important thing is that in the carrier’s mind, the visibility of the gun is a problem. At the end of the day, it’s all a personal choice.

What I’m trying to counter are the same tired and mostly empty arguments that stretch logic, defy real-world experience, or apply primarily to cops, security, and bodyguards. Please don’t mislead the masses into think open carry is wrong, unnatural, hazardous, or undesirable with flawed reasoning. Again, aside from very specific cases, the only reason not to open carry is personal.

The whole point is that the open carry/concealed carry war is stupid and pointless. Each has their own advantages and disadvantages. Neither is inherently superior. This should be a short, quiet conversation and a personal choice. Arguing loudly about who is right and wrong and using logic not borne out by reality, but by personal opinions and perceptions, is as useful as trying to settle the age-old debate of Ford vs. Chevy or baseball vs. football.

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