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Make no mistake, I believe in the right of self-protection and the right to carry a firearm. While there are occasions when I carry openly — mostly in more remote locations and on the firing range — I much prefer to carry concealed.
While there are some advantages to open carry, I believe as a general rule you are much better served carrying your handgun concealed. Let’s take a look at five good reasons to keep your pistol concealed.
1. Be the quiet professional.
I much prefer to NOT let everyone around me know that I am packing heat. Yes, it’s a constitutional right. But why insist on advertising one’s armed status to the world? As discussed in the following outlined points, consider keeping the tactical advantage by not letting those around you see your firearm. Some people will immediately believe you’re a demented person whose intent is evil. Your carry demeanor is best served by blending in, being quiet about it and having some consideration for those who just don’t get it!
2. Keep the tactical advantage.
Understand that not all criminals burst through the door and begin shooting. Some are very calculating and cunning, and take time to surveil their surroundings. That could play out two ways for you. If you’re carrying concealed, your ability is well-hidden.
If you are carrying open, you may unfortunately be the criminals’ or terrorists’ first target. On the flip side, your open carry sidearm may dissuade the attack to begin with. Personally, I would rather maintain the element of surprise for myself and not be the focus of the bad guys’ ill-intent.
3. Don’t waste law enforcement’s time.
There are plenty of videos online showing confrontations between open carriers and law enforcement. And I get it: Many officers don’t understand the legalities of carrying open where it’s legal. But understand that law enforcement must respond when that call comes in of a “man with a gun.” Many times, officers don’t have a clue as to the circumstances, and therefore need to be cautious on their approach. Why waste the officer’s time in the first place when you can be discreet and avoid any contact with law enforcement? They have better things to do than have a discussion face to face with someone carrying open. It puts both parties in potential danger.
A self-examination of motives for open carry, and drawing the attention of police, can be a valuable exercise. If the aim is to educate, non-confrontational approaches are more likely to result in their willingness to listen with an open mind. If the reason is related to ego and drawing negative attention, that will likely be the outcome. Unfortunately, the resulting negative assumptions are often generalized to all gun owners.
4. Consider the view of the general public.
More and more of the general public today get downright upset when they see a gun carried openly. Being frightened or offended are common responses. Should you care? I believe so. Unless you live in a community where open carry is readily accepted and practiced, you’re asking for trouble. Gun owners all know that gun rights are generally under attack (now by individual states more than the federal government). Perhaps we all should choose our battles carefully. I would rather retain my ability to carry concealed than possibly lose it all.
5. Don’t encourage more restrictions.
The end result is the fight in state and local legislatures, not to mention at the federal level depending on who is sitting in the Oval Office. The unfortunate fact is that where you are sitting geographically in the country is what influences how big an issue you have ahead of you with concerning concealed carry — much less open carry. In recent months, we also have seen private business post signs against open carry or guns because of controversies surrounding the issue. Proceed with caution.
Some will interpret my position as anti-open carry. Nothing could be further from the truth. My only goal is to give you food for thought, having had a long career dealing with such issues. Bottom line: quiet and professional is a winning strategy.
Perhaps James Monroe said it best: “The right of self-defense never ceases. It is among the most sacred.” I couldn’t agree more.
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