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.


  1. And what sort of impression do you think you give about gun owners with what you write and how you criticize those who do not follow the “Caleb Doctrine”? . . . what’s that saying about the pot and kettle . . . .

    1. Holy balls.

      You know what the Caleb Doctrine is? “Don’t be a dick.” That’s it. If gun owners can’t follow that, maybe they shouldn’t own guns.

      1. I think what he’s getting at is that while reading this article, it really seems like you could gain from listening to your own advice more (about not being a dick).

        I mean, you make some good points…but then you go and act like a complete dick about those points, throwing around insults and conjectures about breast feeding habits. Kinda dickish…

        So, what I’m saying is: Don’t be a dick.

  2. This is Poetry in Motion:

    “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.”

    1. One of the reasons I love this blog. Though my favorite entry was “so the attention seeking OC types that would normally be carrying a Hi-Point around in a piece of shit nylon holster have to carry SKS rifles around that look like the Tapco catalog threw up all over them. So just because some guy didn’t get enough hugs growing up, he now has to seek attention in a way that messes with everyone else’s gun rights.” From “What the hell is wrong with Texas open carry?” from May 21

  3. I agree with you that we all our ambassadors for the Second Amendment. Open Carry has been legal in Arizona for decades and is common place. Most open carry practioners still look amateurish. Cheep holsters on skinny belts that threaten to drop both pistol and short pants together. On the rare occasion Othat I open carry I wear long pants and good leather.

    1. I’m here in AZ too, I don’t OC for personal reasons, but I agree with your point about Good Leather and Belt!! That is the ONLY way to carry, whether Concealed or Open!!

  4. Thanks for your reflection. This is a really meaningful experiment. Before reading this I was against CC and OC, but reading you has convinced me think that I’m wrong. At least CC makes more sense to me.

    If I might add something, it’s not just that you’re a representative for everyone who’s OCing, but you are also defending the rights of even the people you complain about OCing. Perhaps this particular moment in the gun rights movement will pass and these idiots that you mention will disappear, become calmed.

    I know this will be an unpopular comment, but only about 10 states require permits for OC, whereas some 45 allow it. Maybe permits for OC are the answer to these idiots you’re talking about.

    1. You don’t preemptively restrict rights over aesthetics. The only possible justification for -any- given restriction on the peaceable free exercise of a fundamental right (or even mere desire) by a citizen is a *documentable* *overwhelming* *inherent* public safety issue that *directly* impacts the physical or financial natural rights of others: and each and any given restrictions must be narrowly tailored to mitigate that given threat without burdening other peaceable exercise.

      Attention whore OC does not rise to that level.

  5. I follow your posts alot and usually agree with your points. This was a good experiment, It amazed me that you had NO run ins, at all! I am a firm CC’er, frankly, for those reasons, I don’t want the attention or problems. For the summer time I have taken to carrying in a regular looking fanny pack that is made really securely, a “Pacsafe”, its not as fast as on my hip but way better than not having it. but maybe, on my cardio walks around my neighborhood, maybe OC could be an option. Thanks for the series.

    1. My Main CC for the summer is something small that fits in my front Pocket on a Galco Pocket Holster, but then again, this year we didn’t have a REAL Winter, so it was Shorts weather except for like 6 weeks I wore big boy Pants!!

      1. Yea, thought about that, the right tool in your pocket would be good too, probably about as fast (or faster) as my butt bag. Here in my “hood”, good people and neighbors. pretty much perceive little threat there except for the possible lose dog or wayward mountain lion, (yes really), so still full size. I do like the pocket idea though. was looking at one at Cabelas a couple of days ago, would need the right tool to put in it . Right now limited to an older Beretta .25. Still…………..

        1. My Pocket Pistol is a Kel Tec .32, but I am debating between a S&W Bodyguard, a Ruger LCP or a Glock 42, which is a tad bigger but has Great Sights!!

          1. Ruger and S&W are both great options. Then again, I should shut up because the only way to really tell what’s right for you is to try them out yourself.

  6. > You know what the Caleb Doctrine is? “Don’t be a dick.”

    My doctrine is “look to your actual consequences”.

    Here in generally gun-friendly KS, the AG is now somewhat reluctantly crafting specific optional signage for OC Prohibited:

    I see this as a direct and quite predictable result of boneheaded OC activism, and I see it as the exact opposite of the results the activists wanted (unless of course they are intentional statist saboteurs; they look dumb enough to be).

    We’re now over a century past when street OC was common in much of the US. No one alive today has memories of that historical experience. My impression is that street OC became disfavored then because it was seen as a denial that we were becoming more civilized, and that therefore it was unnecessary. Right.

    In some future where OC is once again common, I suspect the acceptance will need to precede the practice. Activism is not apt to precipitate the acceptance; quite the opposite, as we are witnessing.

    Back when street OC was common, CC was often seen as sinister. That attitude has changed, and CC is blooming. Suppressors were also seen as sinister 80 years ago. That attitude is also changing.

    Attitudes on street OC could also change, but even if they do, the choice of OC vs. CC will, of course, still be ruled by tactical considerations that frankly favor CC in the vast majority of cases. I endorse having OC as an option of course.

  7. I’m from Texas myself, but for the life of me, I do not understand the a**hats here that have to carry AR’s, SKS’s and AK’s around trying to prove a point. Add to that most of them sound like illiterate butt heads when they open their mouths to speak.
    And if anyone thinks I’m against the 2nd or against guns, well surprise, I carry every single day and no one that sees me is the wiser.

  8. Here are some great words: “as a community, it is important that we are kind to each other . . . aware of how we represent one another” . . . . “even when we are just conversing . . . should reflect positively on our community as a whole” . . . “when you are speaking as gun owner, you are speaking for more than just yourself” . . . “be well spoken and to represent one another to the best of our ability”. Anyone recognize those words?

    1. Certainly we have the option of keeping our language clean and positive. It usually helps. However, if the shoe fits, wear it. OC activities that are acting like fools are being labeled as such. The “don’t be a dick” doctrine is fairly wide spread among stand-up organizations. It cuts right through pretense and posturing and lets the grown folks talk.

      1. I don’t know about wide spread use by stand up organizations, but the reasoning seems pretty limp . . .

  9. The open carry people are just taking a page from the gay community’s play book. Look back over the years of their efforts to push their agenda, and the successes they’ve had.

    1. Notice, too, that when the “gay community” (such as it is) stopped doing Folsom Street Fair type parades and other in-your face activity, and then started presenting themselves as mostly normal people who just want to be able to do normal-people things, they got a lot more traction.
      Dudes in just leather chaps and biker hats parading down the street? Didn’t really work out. Dressing normally and saying “Well, we’re not that different from you, can we please be able to do our own thing in our own homes?” is working really well.

  10. I understand the author’s view of OCT people carrying long guns in public places, however, I think we need to understand that they understand that long gun open carry is being used to illustrate how badly the TX law needs to be changed to allow handgun OC. Most of the “fuss” over the OCT demonstrations have been from people not even present at the events, but from paid employees for anti-gun groups like MDA. The people at the actual events seem to accept the OCT people quite well in most cases.
    Second, your comment about many OC people not using high quality holsters/safety equipment is probably correct, however, think that if you could see what CC people are doing you would find some really bad practices there also. Putting a loose gun in a purse or pocket happens more times that any of us want to admit.
    For me I would consider OC as a “occasional option” rather than the normal option.

    1. The problem with OCT’s strategy is that there isn’t one. As near as I can tell it’s “carry long guns in public…get laws changed.” There are no legislative efforts on their behalf, no coordinating with the people who actually change the laws, just big, attention gathering events.

      VCDL had a plan. It worked. That’s the difference.

  11. Caleb – that isn’t true at all. Grisham discusses strategy here: The biggest problem is people falling for the anti-gun extremists’ lies and buying into the media narrative. At least you took a step to try – but from what I’ve seen at events is that these guys are completely mischaracterized and you spread some of the same non-sense stereotypes that don’t ring true at all – at least to the couple of walks I’ve been on.

    1. I love it when others make my point for me. “anti-gun extremists’ lies” and buying into the “media narrative”. Have you been watching for chemtrails? “non-sense stereotypes”? Did you see the online videos? Or were those banned from teh NRA and pro-gun websites?

      Caleb, why do “you spread some of the same non-sense stereotypes that don’t ring true at all”?

      This is an interesting facet about the pro-gun movement. As soon as someone tries to finesse a point, or make a claim, they are thrown into the “non-sense” of the “anti-gun extremists”, who are merely trying to confiscate weapons.

      It’s what I call the slippery slope: any argument that seems possibly contrary to gun rights becomes a form of crypto-gun-control.

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