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