Racist Open Carry in Ohio is not a Bloomberg False Flag

Over the weekend, this video of some Open Carry scumbags in Ohio went viral (for gun community levels of virality):

I originally saw it at Bearing Arms, which notes that now 2 of the 4 idiots in the video have been arrested. Good. But that’s not what we’re talking about today, because if you read the comments at BA or any of the other sites, you’ll see a repeated theme pop up. People assume/accuse the folks in the video of being plants, or a false flag operation. I have sour news for you, Jack: it’s not.

Continue reading “Racist Open Carry in Ohio is not a Bloomberg False Flag”

5 things I learned from Open Carry

I spent the last two weeks open carrying as part of my OC Experiment. I wanted to get a first hand feel for what OC was really all about, and why people would choose it as a primary method of carry. At the end, I was frustrated, not with OC or my interactions with the public, but with my interactions with hardcore OC advocates. You can read the final summary post here.

It wasn’t all a waste of time though, because I did learn a lot. Here are the five most important lessons I learned from the Open Carry experiment.

1. Most people won’t even notice your gun
As long as you’re not doing something retarded (like carrying a slung long gun across the front of your body) most people won’t even notice that you’re carrying. The simple fact: most people are so absorbed in their own heads that they won’t even notice YOU unless you’re specifically A) drawing attention to yourself or B) interacting with them in a retail/normal manner. The average dude walking around is probably so deep in his iDevice that he might trip over a parking meter. It is hard to empirically prove this of course, but the reason I’m comfortable making this statement is because of the point 2 below this.

2. The people who do notice have obvious reactions
I could easily tell when people noticed that I was open carrying. They’d look at me, look at my gun, back at me, and then would either continue to act normal, or would or would pretend to act normal with slightly wider eyes than before. It’s that second one, when people would pretend to be okay with it, but clearly uncomfortable that I found especially frustrating. There shouldn’t be anything weird about a dude carrying a gun, but there is (in some places). There was one time this was humorous – I was walking the dog, and a gentleman asked me if my dog was a drug dog. I realized that wearing a tucked in polo, khakis, aviators, and carrying a gun resulted in a very specific look. Whoops.


3. Most people who OC are cool bros (and ladybros).
It’s really true. The majority of people who open carry are just carrying their guns and going about their lives. Do they sometimes use shitty holsters with embarrassingly awful guns on terrible belts? Yes, but that doesn’t make them bad people. They’re just honest folk doing something perfectly legal. And that’s awesome. I would go so far as to say that 95% of people who OC on the reg are just fine folk.

4. The other five percent of OCers are wretched trolls.
I mentioned in the post the other day that what really frustrated me about my OC experience was being accused of being an anti-gun shill for Bloomberg by people who were ostensibly on the same side of the gun issue as me. That is annoying. I had some pretty choice words for those people, and I stand by them. The frustrating level of tone-deafness I encountered was shocking. Here’s the thing: we now have actual, documented incidents where OC has actively harmed the pro-gun movement. When private corporations says “hey, don’t bring your guns in here” that is a loss. It may not be a big one, but it’s still a loss. So when I hear OC advocates talking about “educating and desensitizing” I’ve realized that’s code for “carrying my gun and video taping the cops.” That doesn’t help. The 95% of OC dudes that are cool? They don’t do that. They just get up, carry their guns, and go about their business.

5. In the end, it doesn’t really matter how you carry, so long as you’re not a jerk.
I feel like that should be self-explanatory. Don’t be a jerk. Don’t be rude to people, don’t run your mouth, don’t scream at traffic. In the words of the poet William Smith to a space cockroach: “Don’t start none, won’t be none.”

The Open Carry Experience part 8: So long and thanks for all the fish

Today’s the last day I’ll be OC’ing as a primary means of carry. Two weeks was enough. I didn’t have any run-ins with the cops, no one tried to talk to me on the street, none of the negative consequences I anticipated occurred. Yet, I’m still exhausted, and the reason I’m exhausted is because of Open Carry people.

William Kostnic

As I’ve been writing these OC pieces, I’ve asked myself hard questions about Open Carry. It’s practicality as a primary means of defensive carry, it’s effectiveness as activism, that sort of thing. The problem is when I do ask those questions, a lot of the responses I get are from OC people who say that I’m a shill for Eric Holder, I hate gun rights, blah blah blah. It’s exhausting. The thing is I actually have enjoyed OC, because I’m kind of lazy. I don’t want to dress around the gun, I want to carry a full size defensive pistol and not worry about it. That’s kind of nice, and it’s super comfortable. To avoid repeating myself though, here are my definitive thoughts on Open Carry, copied from our FB page:

You know what’s funny? I’m not against open carry. I am against f***wits using open carry inappropriately and getting our rights restricted. For example, the idiots in California. Or the idiots in Texas. If you want to open carry, fine, just carry your gun. But don’t be a halfwit about it. Don’t do it to get attention, don’t go on “open carry walks” just carry your f***ing gun and stop trying to “educate” the public and stop being s***heads to cops.

That’s really it. Do I think OC is the best choice for self-defense? No. The only thing I really can’t stand is when I people OCing in garbage holsters. That bothers me because it’s dangerous. But if I see a dude OCing in a proper retention holster, just going about his business? I don’t care even a little bit.

I look at the OC situation, and what I see are lots of good, normal folk who use OC as a regular tool for self-defense. Then I see their voice drowned out by the actions of worthless, attention seeking, thumb sucking, fatass losers who were probably denied their mother’s breast when nursing and grew up into mentally deficient man-children who can only achieve some measure of validation through negative attention.

So you know what? I’ll still talk about OC in the future when it’s relevant, if it’s in the news, or even to discuss as a legitimate option to concealed carry. But the worst thing about Open Carry that I’ve seen isn’t the actions of most Open Carriers, but the actions of a few, vocal members of the group. People whose actions make us all look bad.

Because if there’s only thing that anyone takes away from these articles, let it be this: No matter what you might want to believe, when you Open Carry you are acting as a de facto representative for all gun owners. Your actions and conduct influence the public’s perception of us all, and what you do can absolutely affect the state of gun rights in the country. If you don’t believe me, try to OC a gun into Starbucks or Chipotle some time.

The Open Carry Experience Part 7: Why OC?

As I’ve been open carrying for these articles, I’ve been forced to ask the question over and over again. Why Open Carry at all? I touched on this in part 5 a little bit, but I want to flesh it out today and really talk about it. In answering my own question, why OC, here’s what I’ve come up with as reasons people open carry.

  1. Because it’s more comfortable to carry a full size pistol that way than to conceal it
  2. Because concealed carry may not be an available option for various legal/physical reasons
  3. To bring attention to a bad law, such as Florida Open Carry or the VCDL
  4. To be dumbass attention whores, such as CJ Grisham and Open Carry Texas.
  5. Because f*** you, it’s legal.

Now, we’re not talking about occasional OC here either, but OC as a primary method of carry. When you you look at that list, obviously you want to fall into #4. So if you’re going on Open Carry walks with your AR and video camera, just hoping the cops show up, you’re #4, you suck at life, and you should go back to your mom’s basement and cry yourself to sleep on your CrapCo’d AR15 or bastardized Mosin.

Looking at the other options on the list, number 1 makes the least sense to me – it goes back to the concept of “lazy” carry. You can carry a full size pistol pretty easily, you just have to dress thoughtfully for the gun. I’m not a big guy, and I can successfully conceal a full size 1911 in shorts and a polo shirt. I feel like if #1 is your reason for choosing OC, you’re just not trying hard enough. Or, perhaps you don’t really need a full size gun! I know, that’s blasphemy, you know what I carry most of the time? An M&P Shield or a J-frame. If I get into a running gunfight in DTSF and need more than whatever those guns carry, I’m probably hosed anyway.

#2 makes sense to me. There are a few scenarios where a person could be 100% legal to own and carry firearms, but various factors (time, geography, finances) prevent them from getting a permit. It’s hard to beef with that, because I believe that every law-abiding citizen has the same rights to armed self-defense.

#3 is where things can go off the rails. I’m sure if you asked members of Clown Show Texas Open Carry Texas they’d tell you that they’re doing number 3, because they want to get OC of handguns passed in the state. The problem is that they’re doing it wrong, objectively. I’ll use VCDL (again) as an example, because they did it right. In Virginia, it used to be illegal to carry concealed into restaurants that served alcohol, regardless of whether or not your were drinking or sitting in the bar. So you couldn’t go to Chili’s and legally conceal you gun. VCDL held events where groups of organized people would dine in at these restaurants while Open Carrying. They would also get in touch with local PDs in advance of their events to let them know what was up, and would also talk to the managers of the restaurants. Then, once the events were held, they’d also meet with their state representatives and actually lobby to get the law changed. They were successful.

Approach 3 only works if you actually have a plan of action. It breaks down and becomes #4 if your plan goes like “Open carry, get attention…then laws get changed!” Because that’s not how things work.

Finally, we have #5. I’m totally fine with number 5. I’ve had people tell me essentially that “I open carry because it’s legal and I can.” Not trying to make a political statement, just folk going about their business. Works for me.

As I get close to wrapping up my open carry experience, I’m not convinced that Open Carry is the right choice for anyone – and I’m nearly certain it’s the wrong choice for me. I prefer the options that concealed carry allows, in terms of dress, in terms of places I can go, and other discretionary things. It makes life a lot simpler for me to just conceal my gun.

Oh, and here’s a quick protip for telling if you’re #3 or #4: if your “OC events” have actually caused private business or government entities to ban guns, you’re #4 and you’re doing it wrong. See the OC in California, and Open Carry Texas for more examples.

The Open Carry Experience Part 6: Hearts and minds (and laserbeams)

You know what the most common argument I hear from pro Open Carry people? “We’re desensitize and educating the public!” Then last night, someone send this image to me in a tweet:


Desensitizing and educating the public? With Mike “Kill the ATF” Vanderboegh (or however the hell you spell it) there? Yeah sure, pull the other one pal, it’s got bells on it. You know what’s frustrating about all of this? There are GOOD examples of open carry out there. Look at Virginia, where they had a stupid law that prohibited CCW in restaurants. The VCDL went out, OC’d in restaurants, most importantly were not cocks about it, and got the law changed. That’s a win. Or look at Robb Allen and Florida Carry – their OC law is so screwed up that it’s only legal to OC while fishing or some nonsense like that. So what are they doing? Trying to get the law changed and not being dicks about it.

Then you have these guys in Open Carry Texas. It’s like no matter how many times they grab the live wire, they just keep going back to do it again. You want to prove that you’re not in this for the attention? Don’t hold big stupid rallies with no political point. Do something useful, like meet with your state representatives and ask them what kind of support they need from you to get open carry of handguns passed in Texas.

I would like to point out that is what they say their stated goal is: to get open carry of handguns legalized in Texas. It’s currently against the law, which likely comes as a shock to most people since they assume “Texas = Wild West and guns everywhere”, but the fact is that it’s illegal. So Open Carry ClownShow has decided the best route to legalization is to…carry rifles. How does that make any kind of sense?

Open carry should be legal in every state. Concealed carry should be legal in every state. In a perfect world, as long as you’re not a convicted felon, you should be able to carry your legally concealed gun in all 50 states as easily as you’d drive a car. But you can’t, and so we work within the system to change the laws.

Tell me exactly how getting a professional agitator and shit-talker like Mike V is going to help your cause? If you’re really interested in “education” why not do some PSAs on local cable? Or put up a booth at the local fair or something?

Tam says it best: “There’s a difference between carrying a gun, and carrying a gun at people.”

I still don’t like OC as a primary carry method. But if you are going to OC, just carry your gun. Don’t make your day revolve around the act of OC, and don’t define your political identity in terms of obeying the law in an annoying fashion. If Open Carry Texas was really serious about affecting political change, they’d knock off all this attention whoring BS and go sit down with their legislators.

The Open Carry Experience, Part 5: Comfort and concealment

I have to say one thing for open carry – it’s a lot easier to carry a full size pistol openly than it is to conceal it. But is that comfort really worth the increased risk, public awareness, and potential for negative attention?


The more I do this, the more I think the answer to that question is “no,” especially if you’re so fortunate to live in a state with good CCW laws. I’ll use a couple of different examples: in South Dakota, where I live now, there is no permit needed to carry openly. You can just tie on your gun, and stroll about, and it’s all perfectly legal. But getting a CCW permit in this state essentially amounts to telling the processor that no, you haven’t kilt anyone, and yes, you promise to be a good boy. Then you pay your 10 bucks, and they issue you a temporary permit until your for realsizes permit is approved. In fact, it’s so easy to get a permit here that Constitutional Carry failed to pass, because the Governor essentially said “what’s the point, it’s already crazy easy to carry here.”

Now, there are other states where it’s more burdensome to get a carry permit, and OC is the only option for law abiding citizens, or your state may have weird rules that prevent you from CCing in normal locations. A good example was Virginia, which for the longest time had an asinine rule about not being able to conceal in restaurants.

But even after OCing here for a bit, I’m not seeing why anyone would choose this as their primary method of carry if a CCW permit was available to them. I’m not talking about occasional OC, we’ve all done there. Get out of the car, don’t want to put your Hawaiian shirt on, so you just pump gas while open carrying. NBD. I’m talking about using OC as a primary method of carry.

The problem is that as I think this through, I can’t really come up with any real reason to choose OC as your primary method of carry. While it is certainly more comfortable, it’s more dangerous, there’s even more responsibility than concealed carry, and of course there’s the very real chance to get to meet your local police department in an unfriendly manner.

Drilling down into even more, the most attractive part of OC for me is fundamentally based around laziness. Concealing a gun larger than a pocket pistol requires me to engage my brain just a little bit when I select clothes and holsters. If I OC, I can avoid that entirely. But laziness isn’t really a good reason to make choices.

I am committed to these articles, and so I’ll keep Open Carrying for now. But I can’t shake the thought process that anyone who would choose OC as their primary method of carry, barring certain circumstances, is either doing it for the attention or out of laziness.

The Open Carry Experience Part 4: Our own worst enemy

Cracked has an article about Open Carry Texas. I agree with the general points made in the article, and it illustrates the biggest problem I have with Open Carry: the actions of a few extreme actors come to represent gun culture as a whole, and they’re hurting the cause. It’s almost like I said something along these lines yesterday:

When Open Carrying, whether I like it or not, I am acting as a representative for literally every other gun owner on the planet by virtue of carrying my gun where people can see it. That is quite a lot of responsibility.

Don't be this guy.
Don’t be this guy.

This is what I struggle most with during the OC project; despite the fact that I had another uneventful OC day, and I actually find that method of carry to be quite comfortable. I don’t want to be that guy, and I worry that their attention whoring antics have spoiled the pot for the rest of us. Because when Cracked and Bill Maher are talking about OC Texas and I agree with them, you have a serious problem. That’s a major image problem, and it’s not one that is going to go away unless the mainstream firearms community does something about it.

But what can we do? All too often, we’re quick to eat our own for any perceived deviation from ideological purity. I think that two things are important: first, we have to reinforce in communication with regular folk that those guys don’t speak for us. They don’t speak for the majority of OC advocates even, and holy shit how bad is that? When regular OC advocates are all “hey bro, maybe you should calm down” you are definitely not walking the path of righteousness. The second thing to remember that it is on us to act like responsible gun owners and be good, positive representatives of the community when we’re interacting with people who know we own guns. Regardless of whether you’re open carrying or not, I cannot stress this enough: be a good ambassador. Don’t be that guy.

I’m going to keep Open Carrying, because these articles are interesting, and they’ve made me even more sensitive to this issue. I’m responsible, I’m well dressed, I’m using a good gun in a proper retention holster. I don’t want to get lumped in with those clowns, and I don’t think you want to either.

The Open Carry Experience Part 3: Mindset

This is the third installment in our series on Open Carry. Here are the previous installments: Part 1, Part 2.

I went grocery shopping yesterday. The actual experience was interesting, because no one really said “boo” to me the whole time. No one talked to me about the gun, there were no soccer moms diving for cover as I walked past, all in all it was a pretty boring time. It was also nerve wracking, for two important reasons: 1) when OC’ing, there’s really no excuse for lapsing out of condition yellow; and maintaining condition yellow at all times is exhausting. 2) When Open Carrying, whether I like it or not, I am acting as a representative for literally every other gun owner on the planet by virtue of carrying my gun where people can see it. That is quite a lot of responsibility.

wonka open carry

That’s what really got me thinking today is mindset. When you’re OC’ing, mindset is critical. You are a representative for all gun owners, regardless of whether or not you believe it, or if you want to be. Because your gun is visible, you cannot be the grey man, you can’t blend in to the background. People see you, they know immediately “that guy is a gun owner.”

As a result of that, even small, seemingly insignificant actions become incredibly important. I normally try to have decent manners when I’m out in public, but when I’m representing gun owners? Everything is “please, thank you, yes sir no sir three bags full sir” because the impression I want to leave people with is “what a nice man that was” not “look at that d-bag with a gun, didn’t I just see a news story about a-holes like that?”

The other part of mindset is the situational awareness required to OC safely. Let’s be honest, I am probably not going to get jumped in a HyVee in Sioux Falls…but there are certain things that you should do while OC’ing regardless of your surroundings. The most important is not let people close enough to touch or grab your gun, which can be challenging in a checkout line. You also don’t want to hit stuff with the butt of your gun, or get it snagged on something. That’s a big part of why I use a retention holster for OC, because a far more likely scenario than a gun grab would be my gun catching on something and flopping out on the ground. Then I’d be that guy, and no one likes that guy.

I still have yet to have the cops called on me, and no one, aside from a local OC activist, has even mentioned the gun. The mindset of safely OC’ing is going to be something I focus on pretty continuously during this series, because I really can’t stress enough how much responsibility you carry with you when you Open Carry. Like it not, you are a representative for all gun owners. Be a good one.

Open carry gear: Safariland ALS holster with Colt 1911

Safariland ALS with Colt 1911-1

For the OC experiment, I wanted to practice what I preach. That means a proper retention holster. Yesterday, I wore a Galco M4, which was a pretty good choice, but the narrow paddle was uncomfortable for all day wear. I remembered that I had a spare ALS for a 1911 sitting around, so I put a Safariland paddle on the ALS and am now using that. It’s more comfortable, and the on-belt retention is better, but the smaller release on the ALS gives up a bit of speed to the Galco.

Open carry experience, part 2

Yesterday was my first day actually open carrying a gun around real people. I took the dog for a walk in the park, like I do every day. But today it was different, because my mind was screaming at me the whole time “WHAT ARE YOU DOING, YOU’RE CARRYING A GUN OUT IN THE OPEN WHERE GOD AND EVERYONE CAN SEE IT THIS IS WEIRD.” Contrary to popular belief, I am not so desperate for attention as to want negative attention, which is what I sure I would attract. Of course, nothing of the sort happened, and anyone that did look at me was looking at the dog anyway, because let’s face it the dog is awesome.

the dog

I’ve been carrying a concealed firearm for over a decade now. I’m sure that when I first started, it might have felt unusual, but I can’t honestly ever recall it feeling like that. Open carry on the other hand feels weird because no matter which way you slice it, you are doing something that is not a common practice, and you’re doing it in such a way that anyone who is casually observant can notice.

The other thing I found myself doing was mentally rehearsing what I’d say to the police if they did stop me; and in that I realized I have a couple of goals for any encounter with the police while open carrying:

  • Don’t get shot
  • Don’t get arrested
  • Don’t get my dog shot
  • Have the police leave the encounter with either a positive impression of me, or at least a neutral impression.

Of course, I didn’t encounter the police, and basically no one noticed.

The only other thing of note that I did after yesterday was change my gear. I switched Galco M4 holster for a Safariland ALS, also for a 1911. The ALS paddle is a lot more comfortable for all day wear than the Galco’s paddle, which is narrow and can dig into the hip after a few hours. In comparison, the Safariland wears much better and distributes the load of a full size pistol a lot more evenly. Tomorrow I’ll have another update, which I hope will be as boring as this one.