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.


  1. I’m going to float an additional reason- One primarily moves in circles/places that CC is not necessary. The dominant culture in places such as Montana, Arizona (except parts of Phoenix metro and Tucson) and here in rural Oregon doesn’t come with the same baggage as elsewhere- even as much as the more urban areas of, say, South Dakota.

    1. Even metro Tucson. It is the rare day I do not see somebody open-carrying while I go about my business.

  2. I’m still assuming that California was a Machiavellian, multi-stage plan to get shall-carry CC through the courts.

  3. For primary carry? No thanks.

    For situations where OC is more appropriate? (Social breakdown, hiking, hog hunting, etc) Please, let me do so legally.

  4. Been a proud and happy member of VCDL for years. They do good work. I OC every day. Why? I’m a lazy bastard, and a bit of #5. and honestly, if you dress decently(collared shirt, decent pants, dont look like a crazy person) no one really ever notices. And i’m just fine with that.

  5. I’ve been carrying concealed for two years now. OC is legal in my state, Pennsylvania, and I occasionally see someone open carrying, no big deal. Carry a gun everywhere that you can; I don’t care CC or OC, or what your reason is… I got your back.

  6. * carry a handgun… not a rifle, ball bat, weed eater, chainsaw, sword, crossbow, or other such nonsense.

    1. OCT is all about that issue. The Open Carry of long guns is legal, open carry of hand guns with or without a permit is not allowed. So, there demonstrations are exactly based on the fact that open carry of a long gun is “nonsense” in most environments.

  7. I don’t see how the following fits in to 1-5, correct me if I’m wrong: because one carries between a j-frame revolver and Glock 19 and when one has to keep bending down to pick up their kid or grab some pipe fittings off the shelf at Home Depot their concealed piece may show and this is illegal where said person lives. Why doesn’t this show up in this article? This is a serious consideration. I would carry concealed 95% of the time if OC was legal where I live however I want the piece of mind that if my shirt rides too high and my pistol shows then I’m in violation of the law. That’s bullshit.

    Let me address something in advance, purge from your mind the idea that I just need to buy longer shirts, I’ve already done that. I’ve also changed the grip on at least one revolver from a rubber hogue type (which I liked) to one which is hard and less likely to snag my shirt (and I don’t like very much). I also spend a substantial sum on different variations of concealed carry holsters so I can choose which one works best for the situations I will be in that day.

    1. If you’re in Texas, the TPC code that pertains to “failure to conceal” also speaks about intention, such as that one intentionally failed to concealed, meaning to purposefully remove the cover garment to show the firearm. This was put in to prevent people from showing one’s concealed firearm as a means of coercion, or threat.

      If you’re outside of Texas, maybe you could try Appendix carry. Lots of folks like that, especially with a Glock 19 in the right holster.

      1. This change in “failure to conceal” portion of the law only went into effect recently. And, it is a step forward, however it is still unclear exactly what case law will show. I CC a Glock 26 using a couple of different methods, it is always a compromise of comfort, availability, restriction on movement, etc.
        OC should be an option. One place where I would probably OC is when mowing my property where at times I need to go onto road right away. We have from time to time problems with snakes. And I agree that maybe the best solution would be to carry a shot gun (410?) on the tractor, but that probably would get more attention from my neighbors that I would like.
        I have had two of my neighbors, tell me that I should not be alarmed to seem them carrying in their back yards due to the recent problem with coyotes, bob cats and lion. Mainly because they did not want extra attention from neighbors or police.

  8. “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.” – I guess that you have not investigated OCT. Their policies do exactly this, now, apparently the news media has claimed otherwise. The people that claim to be “scared” and report them to the police and business corporate offices are usually not even present at the demonstrations.
    I know the accounts from police never seem to match the claims of Shannon Watts and her paid agents. I also think that OCT has learned some of these lessons slowly and from mistakes in the early days. I think they would have benefitted from a closer relationship with TSRA and NRA during the planning phase.
    Hopefully, soon the lack of Open Carry of handguns in Texas will be legal and the OCT issue will be gone. For a long time the majority of citizens and law makers have desired to have OC with permit, but it has been blocked by “administrative tricks” by the democrats and never allowed to have a vote.

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