So here is what on the surface may be the first documented case of a person open carrying a pistol being robbed of their weapon…by a person probably illegally concealing.
I have my own suspicions that what was told to the police was not the truth, though I cannot support that. I will qualifying my following statements and my own suspicion with the fact that the poor reporting, based on what appears to be simply a police press release, does not give us information to definitively judge what happened. The whole story sounds incredibly sketchy to me, but for the purposes of fostering dialogue, we’ll take it as truth, until evidence can be shown to prove it false.
The 21 year old 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), 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.
Though the reporting is low on facts, 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. 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. No mention was made if the weapon was loaded or even holstered. Until more details emerge, or we have regular stories about open carriers getting their guns snatched, I am not going to worry.
Anecdotal evidence has shown that far more potential thieves are deterred by openly carried weapons than any (well, one now) are targeted for open carry.
It is a regular occurrence for police officers to have a suspect grab for the officer’s weapon and use it to kill the officer in a struggle. The police open carry the most (by their very nature) and have a very strong, though oft violated, taboo of assaulting a police officer.
Now, this kid made some mistakes. He let the robber get too close to him. He should have been on alert when some stranger (mom always said, don’t talk to strangers) began talking about his gun. 2 AM on the streets is the wrong place to let your guard down.
Just in general, let alone carrying (at all), you need to be alert and paying attention to your surroundings. Have a retention holster, not some cheap nylon job that can be ripped off your belt. Still, nothing will erase the effect making good choices and being situationally aware would be. Had this kid been more cautious and wary, this may not have happened.
While this may be the first known (or reported) case of an open carrier losing his gun, it’s not ammunition that open carry is out of place, rather it’s an excellent example of what not to do when open carrying.
Ultimately, concealed vs. open carry both have pros and cons and their times and places. It’s an individual choice that needs to be made wisely. Neither method is inherently superior to the other.
Update 10/18/2014: Reports are now stating that the individual's gun was unloaded, as per a county ordinance. So this is starting to sound more and more like a gun stolen from someone showing it off rather than a bona fide self-defense open carrier.