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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Open Carry - Does it Help or Hurt?

I just read another posting on an online forum from someone who was openly carrying his pistol legally in a large city, and was given a really hard time about it by the police.

I don’t think you should open carry, in most cases. Here’s why.

If the laws where you live allow, it is your right to carry a gun openly at any time. I don’t disagree with that. It’s not about whether you have the right to open carry. If anyone ever tries to take away our right to open carry, I fight it with everything I have.

Instead, to me it’s about what happens when you open carry – the reaction of people you encounter, the reaction of the police you encounter, and the kind of message those reactions send about responsible gun ownership.

Why do we care what the average person thinks of us as gun owners, or for that matter, what the police think? Because we have to live in this country and the time may come when we will need those people for their support to keep our rights from being taken away. And if you don’t think rights can be taken away, you are na├»ve or ignorant or both.

In a worst-case scenario – think Katrina or Japanese tsunami aftermath – I would rather my local police and citizens think “Oh, good, here comes someone with a gun,” rather than “Oh, no, here comes someone with a gun.” And if the governmental climate ever shifts toward the antis, I want the average citizen standing in their way, not supporting them because they’re fed up with my rantings.

So, unless I’m in an area with a strong tradition of open carry (like Arizona), or I’m at an event where it’s welcome and encouraged (like the NRA convention), I will carry concealed, rather than openly. Heck, I live in Kennesaw, Georgia, with its famous ordinance requiring gun ownership, and I don’t open carry here. I’m just as well protected when I carry concealed, and I don’t need to show my gun to prove any point.