Saturday, April 20, 2013

Open Carry vs. Concealed Carry

By Dave Dargo

I have what is often referred to as a CCW; I have a license to carry a concealed weapon.  This means that I have passed a criminal background check that involved fingerprinting, have taken a class and have passed a proficiency test.  Even though my home state of Arizona allows the concealed carry of a weapon without a permit, having the permit allows me to carry a concealed weapon into restaurants that server alcohol and a large number of states recognize my Arizona permit allowing me to carry concealed in their state.


The map shown above shows the states that allow me to carry a concealed weapon using my Arizona permit.  I can carry a concealed weapon in all the states that are in blue.

The map below, though, shows the states where I can openly carry a loaded handgun.

Those states in yellow and orange generally allow me to carry a loaded handgun in the open.  Some have licensing or other restrictions but, generally, I can openly carry.

When I drive from Arizona to Louisiana I can openly carry in Arizona, New Mexico and Louisiana.  However, in Texas I'm required to carry concealed and I must have a permit that Texas recognizes in order to do that.  Fortunately, Texas recognizes my Arizona CCW permit and I'm good to go.

Now, the question becomes why would I want to carry openly rather than concealed or vice-versa?

The first thing to recognize is that there are very strong opinions regarding both forms of carry.

Many people believe that carrying concealed gives them an advantage.  They have the advantage that no one else knows they have a gun so they won't be targeted by someone intent on stealing their gun and they will have the benefit of surprise if they ever need to draw their firearm.  The other advantage of carrying concealed is that it won't offend people who dislike firearms; if that kind of thing is important to you.

Others believe that carrying openly gives them an advantage.  They have the advantage that people see they have a gun and are more likely to choose a weaker target who is unlikely to have a gun.  They also believe that they can draw the gun quicker if they ever need to.

The arguments for both will go back and forth with the same satisfactory conclusion one would find over arguing between vanilla and chocolate ice cream.

I, personally, carry in both ways depending on the circumstances.  I carry concealed when:
  • The law requires it, such as a state like Texas or I'm in a restaurant that serves alcohol by the drink
  • I'm in a place of very low risk where there's likely to be people who will make a stink about carrying the gun
  • I'm in a place where it's likely to be crowded and my personal space is likely to be invaded a lot because I don't want anyone, however remote the possibility, to be able to get quick access to my gun
I carry openly when:
  • I'm physically restricted from accessing a concealed handgun, such as driving down the road
  • I'm in a fairly open area
  • I'm carrying packages
  • It's hot outside and I don't want a cover garment
For me, it comes down to personal preference and the specific circumstances.  For others it's an almost religious argument over whether to carry openly or concealed.

For those of you in California, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and a few other locales; yes, we really do consider fashion when we carry a handgun.  And, yes, we really do carry handguns.  And, oh yeah, we don't consider carrying a handgun weird, insulting, dangerous or a bad habit.  When we see someone openly carrying a handgun we don't get nervous or upset or throw a fit.

Carrying a handgun is, actually, a perfectly normal practice in most of the country.

One final note that highlights the attitudinal differences across the country.  I was in Louisiana giving information to a police officer regarding a burglary.  Louisiana requires a person who is carrying a concealed handgun to inform a police officer when that person has an official interaction with that officer.  We had the following conversation:

Officer: "Good morning, how are you?"
Me: "Great, and you?"
Officer: "Fine, thanks.  Tell me what's going on."
Me: "Well, first, I have a permit for a concealed handgun and I have that handgun with me.  Is that O.K.?"
Officer: "Are you gonna blast me with it?"
Me: "Nope."
Officer: "No problem, then."

We then went on to discuss the burglary and when we were finished we spent about 15 minutes talking about preferred handguns, calibers, concealed vs. open-carry and a bunch of other stuff.  These are normal interactions throughout the country.  Many of you, though, are in parts of the country where the police are extremely uncomfortable with the thought that a mere civilian would be carrying a handgun.  Y'all might want to consider moving.

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