Skip to comments.The Open Carry Argument
Posted on 06/23/2013 2:11:19 PM PDT by marktwain
My primary goal when Im out and about, besides whatever I went out and about to do, is to go about peaceably and not be the victim of a violent crime. To that end I carry a firearm whenever I go out as well as follow all the other standard safety practices like maintaining situational awareness, staying out of high crime areas, and avoiding confrontation. I also have a larger overall goal of making it through my life without shooting anyone. Simply put, I dont want to be responsible, legally or morally, for anothers death. Those two goals might appear at first blush to be mutually exclusive, and with concealed carry it would be a difficult set of goals to realize.
Carry of any firearm or other weapon for defensive purposes is a solemn responsibility. Those of us that do (openly or concealed) are mortified by the idea, constantly promoted by the pacifists, that our behavior is more reckless because we are armed. In other words, because we carry a handgun we take more risks than we would if we were unarmed. While it would be dishonest to claim we are all responsible gun owners, it is my belief that the vast majority of us are. Regardless of what or how you carry, you need to come to the realization that you are setting yourself up to lose. Whenever you are placed in a defensive situation, you will always lose; its only the degree of loss thats negotiable. Ayoob hits on this in his book, In the Gravest Extreme. He suggests tossing the robber a small wad of cash and moving off, even if you could prevail with a weapon. Theres a very good reason for this. Regardless of how skilled you are at drawing your weapon, you are going to lose. It may be only a minor loss, like being very shaken up and not sleeping well for a few days, or it may be a major loss, like becoming fertilizer, or (most likely) it may be somewhere in-between, but you always lose. Your life will not be the same even if you prevail.
Carrying a concealed firearm presents to a criminal that I am unarmed. Every study Ive ever read, not most but every study, says that criminals will avoid an armed person or home when selecting a victim. That only makes sense, right? Robbers, rapists, or carjackers might be dumb and opportunistic, but they have the same instinctual sense of self preservation we all have. Hyenas dont attack lions to steal the gazelle the lions have just killed. Its all about risk management; are the potential gains (a tasty gazelle dinner) worth the risks (pain and damage the lions teeth will cause), and does the hyena really need to test the lion to figure out the answer? No, the hyena can see the lions teeth and knows to stay well clear.
When Im carrying concealed I feel like my teeth are hidden, and thus of no real deterrent value. If I appear unarmed then I am unarmed in the eyes of the robber, I appear as easy a target as almost anyone else out on the street. My probability of being a victim of a crime, violent or otherwise, is completely unchanged by the fact that I have hidden beneath my shirt the means to defend myself. My goal, however, is not to be a victim in the first place, remember? I dont want to be a victim that fought back successfully and triumphed; I prefer to not be victimized at all. I recognize that there are some people who (think they) want to be victimized so they can whip out their concealed firearm and surprise the mugger; that is, in my opinion, foolish immaturity. Concealed carry is good; it throws a wrench in the works for criminals who might see the teeming masses as a smorgasbord of financial gain. This deterrent effect is, nonetheless, indirect and often nil. At some point the thug will weigh the risks vs. the gains; is his current desperation for money/drugs/booze/gold grille greater than the gamble that one of those people might be carrying a gun? If he decides to play the odds, which helped along with surprise tip the scale in his favor, he will attack. Will his attack allow enough time for me to draw my concealed firearm to affect a defense? Maybe, but then again, maybe not.
Remember, I dont want to be a victim and I dont want to shoot anyone. So how do I realize both goals; or how do I make them inclusive? I can do that through open carry. By making it clear and obvious that I am armed, that I have teeth, I tip the risk scale to the point that the criminals gains are far outweighed by the risk. There is no ambiguity when the thug is doing his risk assessment, theres something right there in plain sight that can quickly and painfully change or terminate his life. You may not think his life has much value, but as I mentioned before, he has the same sense of self preservation as any other living creature and to him its every bit as valuable as yours is to you. It would be foolish to ignore this indisputable fact when you develop your overall tactical strategy.
The Five Stages of Violent Crime
I am a firm believer in this defense theology and urge anyone who carries a firearm for protection (and even those who do not) to follow the link and read it carefully. Please, for your and your familys sake, read that. Drill down into the hyperlinks for better explanations; absorb as much information as you can. A violent crime does not begin at the point where one person with ill intent draws a weapon or attacks another.
Another common criticism of open carry is that the firearm itself will be the target of theft, prompting a criminal to attack simply to get the gun from you. Like the previous example of being the first one shot in a robbery, above, this is despite the fact that there is no credible evidence it happens. It also blindly ignores the more obvious fact that anything you possess can make you the target of a crime, be it a car, a watch, or even a female companion (girlfriend, wife, or daughter). Crooks commonly steal for only one of two reasons; to get something you have that they want, or to get something that you have so they can sell it and buy something they want. I dont claim it could never happen; just that its so remote a possibility that it doesnt warrant drastic alterations to our self defense strategies. If you believe otherwise, leave your wife, children, watch, sunglasses, jewelry, and cell phone at home, hop into your Pinto wagon, and head out to do your thing. Very often, someone critical of open carry will cite some example of a uniformed police officer whose gun was taken by a violent criminal, and yes, this does indeed happen. The argument, however, breaks down when they assume the officer was targeted solely to steal his firearm. What is more likely is that the officer was targeted merely for being a police officer and the gun was stolen as a byproduct of the attack. More often, the officers gun is taken during the struggle to get the suspect into custody due to an entirely unrelated matter. However, lets suppose, for argument, that a police officer really was attacked just to get his firearm. What actions did the police department take to prevent it from reoccurring? Did they demand that their officers carry concealed? No, of course not. You should, like the police, prioritize your defense strategy for the most likely threat first, and the least likely last.
It Scares People:
One other statement against open carry I hear is that it damages public perception of firearms owners, or that by carrying openly we are not being good ambassadors to the public. While there are some people who have a genuine fear of firearms, due either to some horrible past experience or anti-gun indoctrination, the majority of people are either indifferent to them or quite fascinated by them. Ive never kept track of the dozens of fellow citizens Ive encountered who have marveled at the idea of open carry, but I do know exactly how many have expressed displeasure at it; one. People are scared of many things for many reasons; however, pretending those things do not exist only perpetuates the fear. Someone who is disturbed by open carry is going to be every bit as disturbed by concealed carry. The only effective way to overcome a fear is to come to the intellectual realization that the phobia is based on emotion and not on fact. By being a firsthand witness that a firearm was carried responsibly and peaceably, and wasnt being carried in the commission of a crime, one who was apprehensive about firearms discovers their fear is not fact based, but emotional. Thus, open carry can be a very effectual way of helping to overcome the emotionally based fear of the firearm. After all, youd be much more likely to believe in ghosts if you saw one rather than if you listened to a ghost story around a campfire. In other words, we give significantly more credibility to the things we experience than we do to the things we hear. The bottom line is that this argument is made by people who dont, cant, or havent carried openly; those of us who do so on a regular basis have an entirely different experience.
Im Not Comfortable Carrying Openly:
This is really the only reasonable argument against open carry for an individual. We all have a comfort zone for any aspect of our lives and we prefer to stay within that comfort zone. We all agree that its better to be armed and never need the firearm than it is to need it and not have it. There is a point where concealing your firearm becomes so problematic, due to conditions like temperature or comfort, that some choose to either leave it behind or carry in such a way that it would be difficult or impossible to draw it quickly. If it takes me five or six seconds to draw my firearm from deep concealment and I had sufficient time before hand to actually do so, I would prefer to use that five or six seconds to avoid the entire encounter. Im glad we have concealed carry laws in most of the states; it empowers and protects not only us but the general public through the offset deterrent effect. Some of us, however, choose the more direct deterrent effect of open carry.
No, open carry is not the be-all-end-all of self defense any more than concealed carry is. The purpose of this essay is not to convince you to carry a firearm openly, but to merely point out the reasoning I used to determine that it is often the best option for me. If you think otherwise, please feel free to write an essay of your own outlining the reasoning you used. I would suggest that you avoid the intellectual mistake of emphasizing rare or unlikely defense scenarios that many of us will never experience. I believe one should prioritize for the most likely threat, not the least likely threat. I dont put Hollywood style bank robberies high on my threat list because I rarely go into a bank and those types of robberies are very rare themselves. I live in the most crime riddled city in the northwest; the most likely threat here is some young male with a knife or gun trying to carjack me or mug me on the street, in the park, or in a parking lot. With this knowledge I build my personal self protection plan based on that manner of attack. This may not suit you, especially if you live in Hollywood.
Open carry is educational.
Good essay, thanks for posting.
Good essay. The author does leave out a factor favoring concealed carry: the risk an open carrier faces from the police.
I carry concealed about a third of the time, indifferently concealed another third, and openly the rest. To my considerable surprise, someone notices my openly carried gun about once a year. No one's ever expressed a single word of hostility, and I've used the few questions I've encountered as educational opportunities, all of which have been well received.
I believe America would be a safer, saner, happier place if everyone saw ordinary law-abiding citizens openly and safely keeping and bearing arms on a daily basis.
Open v Concelated Carry article Ping.
Ayoob carries concealed.
The risk isn’t all that great and becomes even less as police become educated.
Here in Michigan we can open carry right in the state capitol with no problem.
Indications are that zimmerman was attacked to get his gun from him.
I believe it was more a case of Trayvon giving George a beatdown and once he became aware of his firearm shifting his attention to it, forcing George to use it to heep it from being taken from him and used against him.
I do not know how the risk of being attacked by police for legally carrying a firearm compares to that of being attacked by unauthorized criminals. I do know that it has happened many times.
A lot of risks aren’t “all that great”, but are easy to avoid. I do not care to place my trust in the education of any policeman whom I do not know, nor do I consider it my business to educate police or the general public.
Open has its place but concealed is the best solution.
IMO the police question depends greatly on your location. The response in Chicago compared to Tuscon should be much different.
One "No limit N****" found the limit, the hard way.
So conceal your weapon. Makes no difference to the thousands who openly carry across my state every day.
It would be nice to have options.
FR seems to be acting up. You having any problems?
At The last tea party rally I attended here in Michigan lots of people were openly carrying and the handful of police around were unconcerned about it.
I would rather carry openly, if it were legal here in Florida. Then I wouldn’t have to worry about keeping it concealed as I wandered through Costco.
I could argue tactics, but learned long ago that arguments over tactics never end. However, I would disagree with some of his points.
1) I am indifferent to deterrence. Deterrence only works with individuals who are mentally sound, not under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and whose aggression is based on an unemotional motive. I would never assume such professionalism among armed robbers or other violent criminals.
2) I accept that it is not my choice whether to kill or not. It is based in need, not choice. If you don’t have to kill, and don’t want to kill, don’t kill. But you always must take responsibility for whatever decision you take. Not killing a violent criminal may very well mean that you are responsible for the next person *they* brutalize or kill.
3) He infers too much about criminal motives and means. Often their choice to attack is just impulse based. You were there then, so they attack you. No consideration at all to consequences. These are people who when they are caught *in the act* of committing a crime, by the police, they insist, “It wasn’t me!” This is just plain stupidity, that rates right up there with insanity, drugs and alcohol.
4) Finally, CC gives enormous tactical advantages, even if the aggressor’s gun is brandished and cocked. All told, several seconds, divided into fractions of a second. With that much adrenaline, you feel huge gaps of time in which you can act.
This is my greatest criticism of open carry. To a great extent, it seems to be based on the idea of “fairness”, such as having “a fair fight”. The heck with that.
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