By Massad Ayoob, Gun Digest
Is open carry a wise self-defense choice?
- We have the right, but is it wise to carry in a way that may alarm other citizens?
- With open carry you can become a target of thieves, bullies and show-offs.
- It opens us to false accusations of negligent gun use — the firearm can clearly be seen.
- The author feels concealed carry offers surprise and thwarts potential “gun-grabs.”
The concealed handgun can’t be used to protect yourself and others if it is not readily accessible. If it is not discreetly concealed, well…it is no longer concealed.
Open carry is a hot-button issue in both the gun culture and the eye of the public. In some weather, this can add comfort to the carrier, since cover garments can be unduly hot. There is also an intimidation effect on potential criminals, and there is documented evidence of that.
However, that which intimidates bad guys will inevitably intimidate good guys, too. We live in a society where, for generations, media and politicians have relentlessly demonized guns and people who own them. Because people unidentifiable as law enforcement carrying guns in public are an aberration of the norm, it follows that some bystanders will perceive “aberrant person with power to kill me and others.”
Do we have a right to cause that alarm to others? We do not know if one of those passers-by, or fellow diners in the restaurant where we are open carrying, may in the past have been victimized by a criminal armed with a gun. We should be able to understand how we strangers with visible guns in their presence may alarm them.
It puts us in the position of a smoker in the presence of someone who has a severe allergy to tobacco smoke. Yes, we have a right to smoke, but not a right to trigger someone’s allergy. Yes, we have a right to bear arms, but do we have a right to alarm innocent people needlessly when we know, or should know, that might happen?
There are other concerns with open carry. One is that the exposed handgun becomes an inviting target for thieves, bullies, and show-offs. More than one good person innocently carrying a holstered gun has been disarmed by someone who had no right to touch them, sometimes with tragic results.
Finally, any experienced cop can tell you that, sometimes, bad people make false complaints to the police about good people. If that person has spotted your small, gray semi-automatic pistol in your exposed holster, he can maliciously and falsely call police and tell the officers that you threatened him and pointed your gun at him, an act of felony aggravated assault which can bring many years of incarceration. Because he will be able to correctly describe your gun due to your openly carrying it, his false accusation gains credibility. That could all have been avoided by simply carrying concealed.
This is why most in the gun culture recommend discreet, concealed carry. The concealed carrier has the element of surprise against the bad guys, and is much less likely to suffer an attempted “gun-grab.”
And the concealed carrier will not offend, alienate and antagonize innocent people.
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