Monday, May 19, 2014

A few thoughts on Open Carry

After a rousing few rounds of "Open Carry is scary and the same as brandishing" v. "Open Carry is tactically superior" v. "Open Carry is inherently a political statement, intentional or otherwise" v. "Open Carry is more comfortable" the urge to reach for and liberally apply the wisdom stick is a mighty force that thus far remains vanquished.
First off, if it's holstered - it ain't brandishing, you hoplophobic maroon. Neither I, nor any other law-abiding gun owner are responsible for the care and feeding of YOUR irrational phobia's - either to pay for your much-needed therapy nor to pander to your loud public and political maunderings on the topic.

Your insistence that gun owners conceal their existence is neither more nor less reprehensible than insisting that black folk stick to using "colored" water fountains, ride at the back of the bus, or avoid sharing a cafe with the "decent folk." It is no better than denying women the vote or the right to own property. It is not significantly different than laws barring LGBT businesses from cities, LGBT folk gathering in groups of three or more, or that old classic (are you listening, Atlanta) targeted bar raids on LGBT friendly establishments.

Reviving the tactics of bigotry and fear is to essentially revive bigotry and fear and point it in a bright shiny new direction...while emanating the same foul stench as the Klan and their fellow travellers.

Moving on to "Open Carry is tactically superior," specifically the "it's faster" argument - while the more rational of us that carry recognize that - like a house fire and fire extinguishers - that stumbling on a encounter requiring major violence (barring some really bad choices regarding "don't be where the trouble is") is a relatively low order probability.

Open carry may, indeed, be "faster" - but at a cost. With Open Carry one not only straps on a fairly obvious "shoot that one first" badge on an involuntary basis (c'mon, even the *dumb* criminals can do basic risk analysis), but one straps on an annoying title - "Ambassador."

The "Ambassador" title happens because you are "out" or "open" - i.e., folks see you are carrying and, with no further input from you, hold you forth as both the expert and example on all things gun and gun owner. You don't get a choice in the matter beyond choosing whether you are going to be a "good" example or "bad" and how much grace and diplomacy you exhibit in doing either.

Which, in turn, leads us to our next point on the analysis - Open Carry is an inherently political statement whether that is your intent or not, no less than being an out gay man is a political statement. Simply by *existing* in a way that the public notices, you make a statement.

To the extent you are "non-scary" you undermine the bigotry sown by the anti-gun or the anti-gay and their theme that we (hurry up and decide which demographic we're discussing) need to be regulated and harassed for "our own good" and that of all those around us. See the paragraph above - intent is not required... this simply comes as part of the package of being identifiable.

As a side note, if you open carry I'd encourage planning "ambassador time" into your daily schedule - from talking guns or law with the local cop, to explaining guns to the little old granny that expresses an interest, to dealing with the hoplophobes and so forth. Why? Because it is one of the best possible things you can do for the gun community if you Open Carry. You're a self-nominated ambassador - might as well do a halfway good job and being friendly, informative and non-scary is a big part of that.

Finally, I've carried concealed and carried open (more concealed than open, but I'm comfortable either way) as a private citizen. The comfort thing depends on your equipment and your body more than concealed v. open - if you have a good holster and a gun that fits you (no, yet again, one size fits all does not apply). There are good and seriously fouled up concealed holsters; similarly there are both good and seriously fouled up open carry holsters. Shop around, your mileage may vary, and you WILL end up with the "drawer of holsters" filled with the "didn't quite work out" candidates.

As a final aside, have a bit of class. Open or concealed, suit your holster to your task. If you're going out for a night on the town wearing a tux your choice should be significantly different than the holster and gun you'd haul along for a fine afternoon hunting hogs on foot in the Texas brush. This is *more* important if you Open Carry, what with being visible and all. Remember, you made the decision to be the "involuntary ambassador" when you decided Open Carry was the mode du jour.


Bob S. said...

Okay... I'll play devil's advocate to your comments.

First I agree with you about brandishing and would include carrying long guns also. Here in Texas it is the only legal Open Carry available (minor except antique pistols).

As for as the Ambassador; this is where I have the problem.

Is every professional athlete a role model?
Only if the PEOPLE choose to let them be one. Same with Media stars or politicians etc. I think there is an element of "Ambassadorship" in advocacy; there the role is an assumed one, freely chosen by the individual. But for the most part and this is the really important part; we need to show that Open Carry isn't done just by advocates, but by normal every day people.
I think the biggest area gunnies - especially gun bloggers --fail is to use the media storm that arises to our advantage.

Here recently Shannon Watts called Chipotle "cowards" for not barring firearms. Why isn't every gun blogger jumping on her for being a bully?
Instead we have folks attacking the Open Carry crowd ! We fail too often of not taking advantage of their words, their actions and focus too much on how one or half a dozen people didn't live up to a mythical ideal of performance.

Some days I don't think any Open Carry "Ambassador" would be good enough for OUR Side.

There are good and seriously fouled up concealed holsters; similarly there are both good and seriously fouled up open carry holsters

And there is a strong element of snobbery in some (not your point) but many cases of people trashing other's gear. Come off it folks, We want to tell everyone that Open Carry is something that everyone and anyone can do-- then we spend hours bashing some schmuck because he carried in holster that most of us started with. How does that help our cause?

It comes across as elitist and judgmental in my opinion. Too many folks look at what they own and don't want to try Open Carry because someone will trash talk them.

Robert Fowler said...

I usually carry concealed. I have on occasion open carried and most times never get a second look. I have a guy that made me a FBI type pancake holster with a matching belt. Since me usual uniform of the day is jeans and a T-shit, I have no problem just letting the shirt cover my piece. If I want to open carry, all I have to do is tuck in my shirt. Of course it helps to be a bit on the fluffy side.