There is a debate out there among some as to whether open carry is a better option than concealed carry when it comes to personal protection. I had never really given it much thought since I had always carried concealed, but given the recent political environment we in the United States find ourselves in, I figured I’d weigh in on the subject.
There are a couple of arguments that some make as to why open carry is better. First, the gun is easy to get to and can be deployed in a hurry when one doesn’t have to worry about clearing clothing items away from the firearm. The advantage of this is obvious, so no further discussion is needed.
Next, those who open carry claim that by having the firearm out in the open, it is a deterrent to crime. This is debatable and I have not seen a study that answers the question either way. It is a fact that police officers practice open carry daily, and some police officers, in fact thousands of them are assaulted each and every year. Now I know that most of the time when an officer is assaulted by a criminal, it is during an arrest type situation, or when an officer has observed a criminal already engaged in committing a crime, so comparing officers getting assaulted to civilians isn’t fair, but it does give us some insight into the criminal mind. It tells us that some badguys will choose to ignore the firearm and the officer’s ability to utilize it resulting in said badguy being killed, and go ahead and assault the officer anyway. So since death or imprisonment doesn’t deter them, don’t think that the mere sight of the gun on a civilian’s hip will either.
While I agree that the gun in an open carry posture is easier to deploy than when it is concealed, I do not believe that a firearm openly carried on a person’s hip is much of a deterrent of crime. But there is a third reason that many in the open carry community cite for why they do it, and that is to affect a political change. The hope is that the more people who open carry, the more accustomed to seeing guns in public those who are afraid of guns will become and the less of a negative stigma firearms will have in today’s modern society. While I applaud that effort, and whole heartedly agree with it, from a stand point of personal protection, I tend to side with the camp that thinks concealed carry is a better option.
While it is certainly easier to draw a weapon openly carried, it is also easier to have that gun taken from you. I have never heard of a person having their firearm taken from its concealed location, but I have heard of it being taken from an open carry location or taken during a struggle after it was drawn. If a badguy doesn’t know it’s there, he isn’t going to make an effort to take it. Why would he? But if you wear it on the hip openly, you now have to become skilled in weapon retention, and, you will need to go out a purchase a holster that is has a level 1, 2 or 3 retention system. Most law enforcement agencies have holster systems that are at a minimum level 2, and as a civilian who open carries, I strongly recommend you do too. This adds cost to the holster and results in a new skill set as you will need to learn how to manipulate the level 2 retention systems.
Next, let’s look at open carry from the perspective of a badguy. Who is a bigger threat to him, an armed civilian or an unarmed civilian? Obviously it’s the person without a gun, so when a badguy assess the situation, and believe me they do, they will find the threat, or the obstacle that stands in their way and eliminate it. If I am hell bent on robbing a bank and am willing to let nothing stand in my way, (refer to the Los Angles bank robbery incident) the second I break the plain of the front door, I am looking for threats and will eliminate the closest as soon as I identify it. Since most banks have elected not to employ armed security, a citizen with a gun strapped to their hip will be the most likely obstacle standing between me, and a several thousand dollar pay off.
There are two other reason why I prefer concealed carry over open carry, first, as crazy as this sounds, there are many locales that allow concealed carry but not open carry. This defies all kinds of logic but it is what it is. Second, we live in a society today that fears law abiding citizens with guns more than they do badguys committing rape, robbery and murder. Again, this mindset flies in the face of all logic and common sense, but it is what it is. Will open carry change that thinking, perhaps, but for now it tends to create a lot of issues when ignorant people call the police on a law abiding citizen practicing his constitutional rights. What makes matters worse is when an ignorant officer shows up to handle the call. For my money it’s just easier to carry concealed.
With all of that said, I will not argue for one second with a person who wants to open carry. I on occasion still practice it and I feel that concealed carry is only marginally better. Any down side there is to open carry can be overcome with proper education and training as with any down side there might be to concealed carry. And there are certainly situations in which open carry is better than concealed and vice versa, and since you don’t know in advance which situation you will find yourself in, it’s impossible to know which is better on any particular day.
How you choose to carry a firearm for personal protection is just as personal as what kind of gun you carry or what type of holster you use. Just remember, if you carry, carry every day, all day.
Don’t just survive, thrive!
Carrying a firearm for personal protection brings with it an awesome responsibility. You have the power to change a person’s world forever, and even the power to take their life. It is you duty as a responsible gun owner to always obey the cardinal rules of firearms safety and to understand the laws where you live and travel with your gun. Do your due diligence become educated on the use of force continuum and become proficient with your firearm before you leave home.