Firearms Food for Thought: OC or CC?

It’s one of the more hotly debated topics among gun owners who carry a gun for protection on a regular basis: open carry or concealed carry? Yes, some states have specific rules that make the decision for the gun owner, but there are plenty of states where the choice is up to the potential shooter. So what do you do, OC or CC?

Years ago – more than I care to admit – my first self-defense instructor leaned on the bench of the shooting lane beside mine and gave me a bit of advice: “If you carry your gun openly, you’re making yourself a target.” It was, he said, basic logic. The guy carrying a gun was going to be singled out by a nervous assailant or thief. Convenience store robbery? Thugs would take out the most obvious threat first, or at least that was his theory. Of course, this particular instructor is well known for his experience and skill in these matters, which makes me tend to believe he knows precisely what he’s talking about.

Some gun owners feel OC serves as a warning to would-be troublemakers. The theory is those delinquents will spot the openly displayed firearm, assume its owner is a crack shot under pressure, and run away rather than fight. And that just might be true in many situations.

There are other factors to consider, though. For one thing there are a multitude of holster styles out there offering different levels of retention, coming with and without thumb break, and so on. Then there’s the skill, or lack thereof, of the person carrying the firearm. Do they pay attention to their surroundings – and their gun – closely or simply wander along in their own world? Have they been trained in firearm retention, as well as what to do if they were to lose control of their gun?


Even those who CC have responsibilities to use a proper holster and train accordingly. After all, just because you’re covering up your gun doesn’t mean you shouldn’t train. That’s assuming the gun is even properly concealed. More than occasionally people go out with their CC weapon in a glaringly obvious position whether it’s a big gun-shaped lump, an exposed holster, or a shirt that rides up and shows off said gun to the world. Bottom line: if you’re going to CC, make sure it’s actually concealed.

What do you think? Is OC just asking for trouble whether it’s asking for your gun to be taken or painting a target on your back? Is CC the only way to go? And if you do CC, does it absolve you from training thoroughly for things like firearms retention?

In the gun world there are always multiple factors to consider, and although you might find it frustrating, that’s what a responsible gun owner does: he considers every aspect and prepares accordingly. Guns may be fun to shoot – believe me, I get a real thrill from trigger time with my favorites, .338 lapua magnum and any .50 cal – but they are not toys. Carrying a gun is a serious responsibility and should be treated as such, with all necessary considerations.

TFB Staffer

TFB Staff, bringing you the latest gun news from around the world for a decade.


  • Bill

    This is going to be the online equivalent of a multi-car pileup crossed with a train wreck and hybridized with a plane crash……and I won’t be able to look away.

    • iksnilol


    • Cmex

      Seems like the prophesied arguments and crashed did occur, mostly with help from you and Texas.

  • M.M.D.C.

    We can argue about the tactical nuances of OC vesus CC forever but the idea of attracting the attention of pearl clutchers and children is reason enough to keep it hidden. I’m a private, low key kind of guy and I just don’t want the hassle of dirty looks and questions.

    I would, however, support anyone who chooses to legally open carry a pistol as long as they do it in a non-confrontational manner.

    • ExMachina1

      I agree with your first paragraph in its entirety. I agree with your second paragraph in PRINCIPLE, but nevertheless see OC as inevitably provocative to the huddled masses–specifically, OC will likely only increase popular support for anti-gun legislation. Therefore I see OC as an indirect threat to my freedoms

      • M.M.D.C.

        The best way to win over those averse to guns is the take them shooting.

      • Swarf

        Keep it secret. Keep it safe.

        • hikerguy

          I think open carry can make you a target for theft. They want that gun and catch you not looking…. and a hammer to the back of the head and off they go with your open carry sidearm. Better to be discreet.

      • Nicks87

        Just wait until criminals realize that most open carriers have no weapons retention skills what-so-ever. The amount of stolen guns that will result from open carry will eventually lead to more anti gun legislation.

    • Captain Obvious

      In my state OC is fairly common in the more rural areas. It is also more common since the shall issue concealed pistol licenses have become more popular. One often sees people at gas stations exit their vehicles (inside of which is considered concealed) with their pistols exposed when pumping gas etc. I confess that I make no attempt to cover up when doing that anymore. I do think that people doing that and other OC has served to socially condition people to see and accept guns more. That’s a good thing IMO. It shows that gun owners are not bad or ashamed. I should also note that I see a lot of “plainclothes” cops open carrying more than they used to. When I was a cop one never, ever exposed one’s sidearm when in plainclothes. It is pretty common now among law enforcement.

      • retfed

        I live in an OC state, too, and I would never OC at a gas station. Pumping gas can be distracting, and a gas station is a robbery target.

  • Criminals are always going to use the advantage of surprise when they attack; I for one will do the same when I defend. It’s in my best interests to let them think I’m an Easy Out right up until I demonstrate otherwise.

    Open carry ain’t gonna discourage the stupid ones from bein’ stupid, and it marks you as a problem to be solved first for the smart ones.

  • Joe Goins

    There are two reasons why I will not open carry when I can conceal:

    1) I don’t like being stopped and harassed by police. I learned this lesson the hard way when I had to explain to my boss why I was an hour late coming back from lunch.

    2) I don’t want to scare people in general. Like it or not, most people are not accustomed to seeing a gun in public and they will panic. I think we should attempt to be accommodating.

    • It’s not harassment in most cases it’s because somebody called in to the PD. You have to check every complaint.
      My state recently passed open carry but I won’t be joining in.

      • Joe Goins

        Exactly. That was the second reason why I don’t believe in open carrying. It freaks people out.

        • DaveGinOly

          If you ever open carried you’d probably be surprised how few people actually seem to notice.

          • Joe Goins

            No, you’d be more surprised at the amount of people who just won’t say anything about it. I spot at least three people a day open carrying in a thigh rig or OWB holster. What is difficult for people spot is a open carry with a IWB holster.

        • CG59

          Also, the bad guy is going to shoot at you first. I think that folks who openly carry are in it for the ego boost. My fav is S&W Airlite with CT in a DeSantis ‘Nemesis’ pocket holster.

          • Joe Goins

            The other guy isn’t always “going to shoot at you first.”

            I think most are into open carry to make a statement.

          • CG59

            Well I didn’t say ‘Always’. Personnally I don’t feel the need to make that statement.
            Though you might have the right to march up and down the street with your AK or AR slung, that doesn’t mean it is wise to do so.

      • Joe Goins

        The only time that I have ever said anything at all to law enforcement was at a gas station. I walked in and saw a guy with his hand on the gun looking very paranoid (some would say “scanning his environment”). Five minutes later, the deputies pulled up (I didn’t call them) and asked a bunch of us what happened. I told the deputy, “I know he can legally carry; however, his actions caused me to be concerned for my safety.” The guy was charged with disorderly conduct.

        • TexTopCat

          Well, maybe in your case you did the right thing or maybe you should have been charged with SWATTING. With only your statement it is not possible to tell. However, there is a much bigger problem with SWATTING getting people killed than the other possibility. Criminals will almost never have a holster or carry openly, ask a long time police officer.

          • Bill

            No one knows how many cases of SWATting actually occur: no place rolls a team without an on-scene officer’s request. How many people have actually been killed?

          • De Facto

            Killed, not many. As to how often.. http ://www. nytimes. com /2015/11/29/magazine/the-serial-swatter.html

          • Joe Goins

            I’m sorry, SWATTING? I have never heard of this term.

          • Sig_Sauer

            It’s a new practice by anti-gunners. They see anyone carrying, open or concealed, they call the police and claim there is a man waving a gun. Yes, it’s a lie, but the arriving officers are geared up for an active shooter. This happened in Dayton, Ohio and two people died. A black man on his phone carrying a toy gun he picked up from the toy department and a lady due to a heart attack. The goal of the anti-gunner is to get someone killed.

          • It’s only new to anti-gunners; they got it from scumbags who are hardcore gamers, where the usual method is to wait until someone they have a grudge against is livestreaming themselves playing a game or filming a podcast, then call in a false report of [violent crime] at that address so that everyone watching gets to see cops kicking down the door and storming in live on video.

          • Sig_Sauer

            Thanks for the info. As you can tell, I’m not a gamer. Way too old.

          • retfed

            Mr. Goins didn’t call the police; he was asked a question by responding officers and gave an honest answer. That doesn’t constitute SWATting. He saw an armed person acting in an unusual fashion.
            Do you open carry with your hand on your gun?

      • DaveGinOly

        I disagree. Would the police respond to every call of “I just saw a man drive a car past me”? Of course not. Driving a car is legal, and although the driver may not have a license, or may be intoxicated, unless the witness provided some indication that what the driver was doing was illegal, the police would tell the witness, “Sorry, it’s legal to drive a car, and unless we have a reason to believe the driver is breaking the law, we have no reason to investigate.” Because open carry is legal in many states, the reply to people calling in about open carriers should be the same. In fact, there are court cases that say that if an action can be performed legally, officers don’t have cause to make a stop unless they believe that something illegal is being done. This “something” is generally missing from open carry stops.

        “The claim and exercise of a constitutional Right cannot be converted into a crime.” Miller vs. United States,230 V. 486,489, (1956)
        Because open carry is the exercise of a right and can’t, by itself, be considered a crime, therefore it can’t, by itself, provide the probable cause necessary for an officer to make a stop.

    • Bill

      Pretty much every mass shooting that I’m aware of and a bunch of armed robberies and a murder or two started with someone “open carrying.” We can’t filter out “man with a gun” calls by telepathy. Even where it is explicitly legal, it’s still going to result in a stop, which is counterintuitive, but it is what it is. Laws making it legal are far more difficult to apply than laws which don’t make it illegal.

      • TexTopCat

        Really, give some examples please. All of the the ones I have read about started with a criminal hiding a gun until the shooting started.

        • Bill

          Aurora, Newtown, San Bernardino, VA Tech; none of those shooters attempted to conceal their firearms.

          How can you commit an armed robbery without openly displaying a weapon, unless you’re one if those dolts who still tries the finger gun gag?

          • Aaron E

            The “open carrying” during the mass shootings you cite may not be entirely correct.

            Newtown is correct – he openly displayed the rifle on his approach and shot through the glass to make entry.

            San Bernardino – unknown, but likely at least openly carried the rifles from the parking lot back into the business. However, it was a short distance. I list this as “unknown” because he had previously used a bag to hide pipe bombs in the room that did not detonate. Possible they used bags to conceal firearms until after entering building.

            Aurora – Probable. However, we have to take into account the orange-haired freak re-entered the theater through a propped open door after movie started (dark). His car was right outside the exit door. His “open carrying” was extremely minimal and likely not observable due to darkness.

            VA Tech – Doubtful. This killer had already killed 2 people, and had walked to the Post Office and around campus before going to the class building for the mass killing. He carried a backpack with chains, locks, handguns, magazines and ammo. Witnesses saw him looking into classrooms before the event, but not the handguns at first. More likely he waited to brandish his firearm until he found his target room and then barged in shooting.

          • Cmex

            Those shooters did conceal their firearms right until they decided it was time to whip them out and go postal.

          • Bill

            Actually, Cho had numerous photos of himself “going postal” posted on Facebook; he wasn’t very covert, and the Aurora killer was dressed like a SWAT cop. Newtown was too schizo to hide an AR and the San Berdoo shooters just waltzed into the building with theirs.

      • Aaron E

        As a law enforcement officer (sounds like you might be too) we need to be fair and differentiate – “open carrying” a firearm on your hip, shoulder, etc., is not “brandishing” a firearm during a robbery or homicide.

        And “even where it is explicitly legal, it’s still going to result in a stop” is not necessarily true either. In my area (legal open and concealed carry), our dispatchers are trained to get more detailed information (carrying or brandishing, holstered or unholstered, etc.). Officers will still respond, but likely will not contact the firearm owner unless the property owner (businesses, etc.) wishes the person to be told to leave. Otherwise we educate the caller on the law and move on.

        • Bill

          I am a LEO, in a jurisdiction where open carry is not illegal, hence It is legal. However, upon receiving a call the officer or deputy will have to assess the context and totality of the circumstances to see what action, if any, is necessary in the interest of public safety. A person strolling down main street in our biggest city is likely going to be responded to differently that someone OCing in a rural areas wher we’ve had a lot of coyote predation. I’m not saying that the first person will be proned out and arrested at gunpoint, but the second example may result in the dispatcher explaining to the caller the background, so to speak, and letting the officer apply discretion. Heck, we know the vast majority of the people anyway, probably know exactly who that is driving their tractor down a county road with a holstered Blackhawk, and can take that into account, including the sovereign citizens who make a point of OCing everywhere they go, with all the fun and games that entails.

          I use music is an analogy: you can legally play music in your car in public, but if you have it cranked to 11 with 4 foot speakers you are nearing the limits of responsibility and appropriateness, besides legality.

          • DaveGinOly

            If an act is legal and someone reports it, without any other indication of lawless or threatening behavior, would you investigate if it were something other than OC? How about a complaint “I saw someone drive by in a car”? The driver could be drunk, or operating without a license, but no indication in the report suggested illegal conduct. Would you investigate? No, you wouldn’t, you wouldn’t have probable cause to make the stop. What makes you think that a similar call about OC gives you probable cause? If a person is doing something that can be done legally (OC or operating a motor vehicle), without any indication that something illegal is happening, there’s no cause to stop and investigate. (The argument “Carrying a gun presents the potential for significant risk to the public” doesn’t wash. So does driving a car.)

          • Bill

            See Music: Loud. See Dog: Barking. See Person: Suspicious. See Car, Reckless Operation Thereof

            Policing isn’t black or white, nor is each call identical to others; it’s varying shades in between which is why we have discretion in how individual situations are handled. We pretty much HAVE to investigate to make sure everything is copacetic.

    • TexTopCat

      1) the police should be trained better than react as you describe. If they do, then they need not to have a badge.
      2) “scare people” – well in most places it makes the innocents around you fell better and more secure. Only criminals would be scared of a person open carry.

  • Dumb Leo

    I open carry every day I work (as a LEO) and I can tell you that my firearm is a thorn in my side… Standing in crowds, waiting in lines, etc… You have to be constantly vigilant of weapon retention. I wouldn’t recommend it if you don’t have to unless you are hunting or some other outdoor activity.

    I also don’t know if open carry really gives you any advantage over concealed carry, save a quarter second on your draw.

    • Joe Goins

      That quarter of a second can easily be made up with practice. Besides, who wants the discomfort of an thick OWB or duty holster?

    • Bill

      People who don’t wear 25 pounds of gun belt every day have no idea of what a literal pain in the butt it is, plus you get to tear up car seats, get caught on every little thing, going to the turlet is a major chore and you get sciatica, piriformis syndrome and lower lumbar degeneration at no extra cost.

      • I had barely even heard of plantar fasciitis until I started having to wear a heavy duty belt for twelve hours at a time while sitting/standing/walking/driving, and learned all the delightful effects that chronic impingement of nerves in the hips and lower back can have.

  • Swarf

    Oh God.

  • Ben Loong

    One major factor are the legal restrictions in one’s particular locale. You don’t really have choice if you’re required to carry one way and still want to do so legally. Here in the Philippines, one of the requirements for a carry permit is that you keep your firearm concealed while in public.

    To quote the conditions/restrictions printed on the back of mine:

    “3. Firearms should not be displayed or exposed to public view and should be encased;”

  • m-cameron

    up next on TFB, which is better? 9mm or 45?…..glock vs 1911………Chevy vs Ford

  • ExMachina1

    I prefer to carry IWB only without wearing any pants. It’s a unique look I’ll admit but then again I’ve never been murdered. So I suppose it works.

    • Bill

      I wear ILC: Inside Loin Cloth. Spare mag is in my buttcrack where it’s secure.

    • Cory C


    • Cmex

      Ah, Florida Man carry.

  • stephen

    OC or CC?

    Depends on where I am, what I’m doing, where I’m going, etc. etc.

    I live in a small town so OC is not a problem. Matter of fact when one sees another OC we nod in agreement (did I mention I live in a small town?).

    However if I go to a big city, 150K+ I usually CC.

    What I find funny are those that make a big deal about either – just do what you feel comfortable with.

  • TechnoTriticale

    Where I live, OC had always been theoretically legal, but CC was prohibited early on, because it was then seen as sinister. Now we have permit-free CC. It’s seen as polite. Different times; different attitudes.

    My view is that until we return to old-west expectations, OC is fine where it’s expected (e.g. range, hunting), or wearing almost any kind of uniform.

    But in the current culture, CC is more than polite, it’s also tactically and strategically wise.

    OC activists in particular really haven’t thought through their scenarios, psychology and consequences.

  • TheNotoriousIUD

    Concealed for me.
    If im in a bank robbery and im open carry ill probably be the first one they shoot but concealed gives me a chance to maybe fight back.

    • mazkact

      A M E N, I’m just an old man with my hand in my pocket.

    • Darron Wyke

      “ill probably be the first one they shoot”
      Except there’s absolutely zero evidence to prove that. Since it doesn’t happen.

  • Do military flap holsters count as concealed or open carry?

    • OC

      • Thanks. Laws vary by state obviously, but I wonder if that applies to Sneaky Pete holsters as well. A flap holster usually is sidearm shaped. How much must a shape deviate from “gun” to be concealed?

        • Wording of state laws varies widely, but in general, if any part of the gun is visible from any angle that’s considered OC… which applies to almost any flap holster. One that covered the entire gun would technically be CC– since you might not actually have a gun in there– but I sure as heck wouldn’t want to be the test case that made a crusading DA’s career.

          • Both Luger and Makarov holsters that I’ve encountered completely enclose the gun, but remain “gun” shaped. Not sure why anyone would carry a Luger. A CWP and favorable open carry regulations would need to be in place before attempting it.

          • Cmex

            In Virginia there’s the phrase “common observation” which I’ve seen interpreted to mean visible except from the opposite side of the body, and I’ve read on the Virginia Open Carry forums that if you’re trying to open carry in a way that would indeed be visible unless someone was paying attention or looked at just the right angle, that’s considered concealed carry. I think the state would therefore think of a flap holster as concealment.

  • Swarf

    Katie Ainsworth: Avid shooter, part time sh*t-stirrer, TFB Lifestyle content creator.

    • It’s a topic worth discussing. I recently spent time with a proponent of OC and just followed him around Wal Mart (we set this up beforehand) to see what the reactions were. It was interesting:-)

      • Bill

        Watching a forensic entomologist pick maggots and fly eggs off a decomposing corpse is “interesting ” too, but it still makes me barf.

      • Bill

        Let me guess: 90% of the shoppers didn’t even notice the gun, 8% freaked, 1% winked, nodded and gave him the secret handshake, and I rolled my eyes and sighed.

  • politicsbyothermeans

    This is one of those questions where the laws, culture and prevalent threat all matter. Today I would have different carry options in Kansas City, San Antonio, Fayettenam and NYC, all conceivably reachable by plane in one day and varying legally between molon labe on one end to “NEIN! Es ist verboten!” here in NY. They also vary enough in terms of different prevalent weather patterns so that your carry options are influenced by a combination of weather and local prevailing attire during the seasons. With nothing more than a gut feeling, I feel like the threats are different in each. Some have obvious places honest people don’t belong, some less so.

    Given all of that, I might OC in one, maybe two of them, in certain parts of town at certain times of year. The same could be said about CC if you add a third. And, of course, here in NY carry options are very very limited and, depending on which county you live in, do not exist.

  • Justin Roney

    Since open carry passed in Texas, I have seen zero individuals choosing to do so, and neither has anyone I know. I am glad we have the option now, and it makes driving over to my friend’s house to go shooting easier, as well as working on and around the farm/ranch.

    • Only public OCing I’ve seen so far has been plainclothes deputies and detectives, even in small towns and rural areas. It’s just so much less hassle to carry under a shirt or in a pocket.

  • Bob

    I say concealed carry, for all of the reasons others have mentioned here, as well as one other: No harassment from wannabe tough guys who want to show they’re not afraid. Massad Ayoob mentioned a possible incident in one of his books. As I recall, he was with a friend in an ice cream place, with his friend OCing. Apparently some “macho man” decided to look at it in real or mock outrage at a guy carrying in a place full of children and then made a move toward the gun, which Massad stopped by stepping in the way. Imagine the issues if Massad had not done so and this guy tried to pull the unaware OCing guy’s gun. This clever stunt could have gotten someone shot, all because he wanted to protest someone carrying a gun.

    • Steve

      It would be all because “macho man” was a trouble maker. Put the blame on the correct person.

  • USMC03Vet

    Open carry changes culture and reaffirms rights. Public display of rights has been used by the left for decades to normalize abnormal behavior and change culture and it works amazingly. Open carrying today is one of the most powerful actions the everyman can do to the change culture in favor of reaffirming those rights. I understand it’s not for everyone but it’s benefits far outweigh the possible negatives.

    • Sig_Sauer

      Depending on the weather (hot) or where I’m shopping, I will occasionally open carry. It is amazing the conversations that begin and a great way to explain why I carry and our Second Amendment Rights.

      I was standing in line buying a lawnmower part and I noticed a cop standing next to me. He finished his transaction and turn to me and sad “glad to see you are armed. Have a nice day”.

    • Bear in mind that the “possible negatives” include “the birth of the modern gun control movement”, since it began when upper and midle class White suburbanites got nervous about poor urban Black people guaranteeing their right to vote during the Civil Rights movement by excercising their right to bear arms. Never forget that “Saint Reagan” was the one who kicked off the long and ugly history of Californian assaults on the Bill Of Rights when he led the push to ban open carry as Governor, after the Black Panthers showed up armed to polling places to keep Black voters from being intimidated by similar shows of force from the KK and John Birchers.

  • RNC1773

    If I have the legal ability to OC where I live (and I do), I don’t have a care, for the most part, in what anyone thinks. When I choose to CC, my gun is large enough for anyone observant to notice, and I don’t care. I think it’s ridiculous that someone might think I have to be accommodating and care for their feelings about my exercising a right. Name me one other part of the Constitution where people say “ohhhh, sure you can do that, but you probably should not so we don’t upset other people.”

    Bull hockey.

    • Bill

      “Name me one other part of the Constitution where people say “ohhhh, sure you can do that, but you probably should not so we don’t upset other people.””

      Yelling “Fire!” in a movie theater?

      Rights carry responsibilities. Not upsetting other people is part of the social contract.

      • RNC1773

        Social contract? I didn’t seem to get a copy of that. Open carry is not the equivalent of yelling “fire” in a theatre. Where I live, OC is perfectly legal. If I am not taking part in an illegal activity, I have no responsibility for someone else’ upset feelings.

        • Bill

          Figures. It’s all about you, you are the center of the universe, screw everybody else. The lifeboat is all yours. You have no responsibilities as a citizen of the Republic.

          • RNC1773

            Oh, not at all. I have plenty of thoughts for other people on many many things. Pandering to people who get bent out of shape over a legally exercised right is not one of them. Someone else’ feelings are not my responsibility. I don’t control how they feel.

          • Bill

            You really should read your your social contract, it’s called the Declaration of Independence and starts out “We, The People…”

            I’ll use your argument the next time I have to fart on an elevator – it isn’t illegal, it’ll make me feel better, and if it makes other people vomit, that’s their problem. Except I could have controlled how they felt, but that’s not important compared to me.

          • RNC1773

            Works for me. It would just make you a douche in the eyes of others, but I believe you shouldn’t care about what I think of you any more than what you think of me.

            Maybe we should apply the same attitude to all other rights. I know it’s our right to not quarter troops in our homes, but we wouldn’t want to upset anyone. As well, you can say what you like, just please oh please, don’t be upsetting. Oh, and that pesky little one about the right to due process, well, we know your crime is really upsetting to people, so if you don’t mind, we can just dispense with the stupid trial and send you right to prison. You don’t mind, do you? Oh, and your religion is a bit upsetting to others, so if you don’t mind, perhaps, just hide it away from everyone so they don’t panic.

            Oh, but guns…yeah, we should really hide away that right. Don’t want to upset the non-believers.

            God, it gets old.

          • Bill

            Stop whining and babbling and try some common sense.

          • RNC1773

            Stop being afraid of what other people think and being afraid of people exercising their right.

          • Bill

            Stop the d**k waving and act like an adult. The OCers “exercising their right” off the farm, trail or range is more pathetic than frightening to most of us in the firearms community. Again, try exercising some common sense, if you absolutely have to exercise something. Feel free to CC, but when visiting Olive Graden try to remember that OC is like a colostomy bag; no one wants to see your s**t.

          • Um, excuse me, I don’t have any responsibilities. I am an Article 4 free inhabitant, according to the Articles of Confederation. I have all the rights of a citizen with none of the responsibilities.



          • Cmex

            ROFL, Nat. The Articles got dissolved like almost 250 years ago when people realized they were totally useless and have held no legal power for centuries.

    • It’s not just a matter of “so we don’t upset other people”, it’s understanding that some of those people who get upset can and will cause trouble for you, either by making a public scene or by calling 911 and reporting a crazy person waving a gun around. You also have a right to call people vulgar names and insult their parentage, but if you do so, it comes with the attendant risk of catching a fist with your face; they’ll be legally in the wrong for responding to verbal provocation with violence, sure, but that won’t put your teeth back in, and everyone who tells their friends about the incident is going to cast you in the jerkbag role for inciting the response.

  • lurpy

    IMO, open carry is the perfect illustration of the difference between “can” and “should.” Can you open carry? Yup, assuming it’s not barred by statute. That’s your right and I’m not going to stop you? Should you? Nope. It’s tactically unsound, both in defense terms (as mentioned in the article) and in political terms (surprisingly enough, I find I’m better able to convince people regarding gun rights through calm discussion and trips to the range than I am by puffing out my gut and walking through Chipotle with an AR at the low ready in order to prove some idiotic point to other jackwagons on Reddit). If you really care about gun rights, you’ll sacrifice the “but MAH FREEDUMS” knee-jerk political statement in favor of actually attempting to change minds–which open carry never has and never will, except in the way we don’t want it to (see also: Reagan banning open carry because the Panthers started doing it).

    • Al Wise

      EXACTLY. Well stated.

    • Not enough people are aware of the racism at the core of the modern gun control movement; it got started precisely as a response by racist White suburbanites to poor urban Black people carrying for self defense during the Civil Rights movement. It’s not politically convenient for either side to draw attention to the historical fact of gun control being used to support Jim Crow laws– or that state gun control laws are still being used that way today– since the left portray themselves as racially progressive and the right spend so much time courting an openly racist base.

      • lurpy

        I actually wrote a pretty lengthy paper on race and gun laws for a class in law school, it’s interesting stuff. It’s amazing how much crap lawmakers get away with when it’s guns instead of another right. It’s unfortunate that a lot of gun groups (the NRA in particular) have courted the far-right militia movement types for so long; it’s wound up pushing away the natural alliance between civil rights advocates and gun owners.

  • Dukeblue91

    I guess it also depends on where you live too.
    I’m in Raleigh NC and many people OC here and it’s not a big deal for us.
    I do it all the time and never been questioned or stopped by the police or people other than being asked what I carry.
    Guess what I also never been shot by a bad guy in the bank or elsewhere and nobody ever tried to take it away.

    • Talos

      Unless you live in an actively dangerous area, MOST people are not attacked or mugged, etc. All cops ate armed but a solid majority never actually need to use their weapons. Simply saying you OC and have never had it taken or been attacked doesn’t mean much. The same would be trite if you didn’t carry at all.

      I have a CCW permit. I have rarely actually used it and when I have it is mainly so I can test a new holster or stay acquainted with the feel of the weapon on my person through a day. The odds of me not carrying on any given day but desperately wishing I was are vanishingly small. Now, the day they approve CCW on my campus (unlikely, and I’m staff) I will then start carrying regularly. I wouldn’t feel safe with a bunch of kids packing: getting drunk at parties, getting pissed off at a flunking grade, all bent because their girlfriend cheated on them or dumped them, losing financial aid and having to leave, etc.

    • maodeedee

      Sounds to me like Raleigh NC is still part of the USA that I grew up in many years ago. Other places like the new England states and Illinois, California and Hawaii are like foreign countries that aren’t a part of America any more. And more states are starting to be that way. Pretty soon there won’t be very places where there is still freedom.

      Friends don’t let friends vote Democrat. That’s what happened in places like the New England states (with the exception of Vermont) and Illinois, California and Hawaii.

  • Jim Drickamer

    Two men walk into a convenience store. One is a civilian. The other is a uniformed cop on duty. Who does the armed robber already in the store shoot first? Enough said. If you are going to carry openly be as aware of your surroundings as that officer is supposed to be.
    Two men walk into a convenience store. One is a civilian without CCW. The other is a civilian with CCW. Who does the armed robber already in the store shoot first? Hopefully, neither, because he does not consider either of them a threat. And hopefully, the CCW can get the drop on the bad guy and end the situation. Carry concealed.

    • RNC1773

      “If you are going to carry openly be as aware of your surroundings as that officer is supposed to be.”

      That should be a given, armed or not, CCW or OC.

  • Brett

    We all deal with hangovers differently.

  • Will

    There is a real probability my home state will pass open carry this year. Along with a form permit less concealed carry that I have yet to see he wording of that Senate Bill.
    I, personally, will not carry openly. Just my choice.
    I wonder if police will be empowered to stop those persons and check the serial number to see if the gun is stolen. They are allowed to do this with car license plates.
    Just a thought.

    • Bill

      There isn’t a reasonable expectation of privacy regarding license plates. They are required to be displayed publicly by the state government. I don’t know what you mean by “pass open carry,” but if it isn’t illegal, I doubt I would, absent reasonable suspicion based on other individual factors, be able to arbitrarily run your gun for status, anymore than I could do that with your cell phone.

  • Robert Griffith

    Why take the chance of inviting unwelcome attention by openly carrying. Let the bad guys be the ones to be surprised when they attack you thinking you’re helpless to defend yourself. Stealth is an advantage that should not be surrendered without good cause.

    • Darron Wyke

      Yeah, no, it doesn’t work that way.

      If I’m robbing you (to use a common example of why drawing would be a good idea), and stick a gun in your face, what am I going to do if I see you rummaging around in your waistband? One of two things: I’m going to run (because I have no idea if you’ve got a gun or a knife or something) or I’m going to shoot you in the face, and now your widow gets to explain a life lesson to your kid.

      Open or concealed carry: if you’re drawing in response to a threat, you do NOT have the element of surprise. That element is long since gone, since you’re responding to a threat. If you’re drawing, and you have the element of surprise, you are INITIATING an attack, which makes you an aggressor.

      • InfidelCrusader

        Yes, criminals work hard to catch their victims by surprise, counting on that surprise to intimidate and cow the victim into submission. The element of surprise to the victim’s advantage in that scenario comes when the criminal expects the victim to produce their valuables, something virtually impossible to do without “rummaging around” the waist or pockets, and the victim produces a gun of their own instead. That’s how it works and that’s really the best one can hope for in that situation.

        • Darron Wyke

          If you do not have the element of surprise, you have NO advantage in a situation where it’s being used. Reactive versus proactive. Your entire rationale is predicated by a premise that is logically and tactically unsound.

          • InfidelCrusader

            I’m not interested in arguing semantics with you. We’re going to have to agree to disagree. Even when one is caught by surprise being armed without the other party knowing that you’re armed is an advantage and a risk I’m willing to take, as opposed to going unarmed and hoping for the best.

          • Darron Wyke

            So in other words, I have no suitable counter-argument, but I’m going to dig in my heels and still not admit I’m wrong. Wonderful. You’re doing the equivalent of screw you, I’m taking my ball and going home.

            So now that you’re willing to throw away the incorrectly perceived notions of “element of surprise”, you now have the choice of: does your attacker know you’re armed or suspect you’re unarmed?

            Let’s look at nature. Animals with active defenses have a better deterrent rate from predators than those with hidden defenses. Skunks are a great example of this. The active defense of their smell and distinctive markings is an active warning to many predators of the risk involved of taking one on. If a predator compares a skunk to a similarly-sized animal, like an racoon, they’re going to pick the latter each time due to a lower risk. If they look and smell alike, the skunk has a 50/50 chance of being a target by a predator.

            I’m not saying one method of carry is inherently better or worse than the other. The merits or disadvantages of them need to be judged honestly, and bullshit misconceptions like “the element of surprise” need to be dispelled.

          • InfidelCrusader

            I wasn’t attempting to make a counter-argument. I told you that I wasn’t interested in arguing semantics with you but apparently you wish to continue trying. I’m disagreeing with your premise that you’re dispelling bull-crap misconceptions. Your point escapes me. If you have one then please make it, preferably without the psycho-babble.

  • Adam

    Open carry in public is a cry for attention and a bulls-eye for the bad guys, it says “Shoot me first!”.

  • Roy G Bunting

    Open carry as protest and exercise of rights has historically been counter productive here in California. Logically, I see two primary possibilities.

    1. The open carrier is seen by someone who is pro-gun or doesn’t care. No minds are changed. At best it may help other pro-gun people feel less alone in the media driven world that demonizes them.

    2. The open carrier is seen by a person who is anti-gun/anti-carry or phobic of weapons. They have their dislike and fear reinforced, and no minds are changed, but the police may be called. They are not going to be reassured “One time I saw A guy with a rifle in Target and nothing happened” They are going to be frightened “One time I saw a guy with a rifle in Target! Thank God nothing happened! There ought to be a law!”

    Guns are inherently dangerous, that is why we want them. If they weren’t we’d all amuse ourselves with replicas and airguns. Like power tools, automobiles, aircraft, and other inherently dangerous inanimate objects, a reasonable person can handle them and use them without injuring others (except as needed in lawful self defense). But to the Anti-gunner carrying a firearm openly is similar to carrying a chainsaw. Sure, there are reasonable uses for it, but what do you intend to do in Target with it? Why’d you bring it if you *weren’t* going to use it?

    Concealed carry, as a tool for self-defense bypasses all these problems. Regular folk don’t see your gun and wonder “Why is he carrying that? Is he a cop? Is he going to shoot up the place?” Criminals don’t see your gun and do not have any reason to adjust their plans. perhaps they’d be deterred, perhaps they’d steal your gun, perhaps they’d shoot you first. Of those options two/thirds are negative. and there is no way to measure how often they’re deterred. Concealed carry reinforces our rights by exercising them without attracting attention.

    If you want to protest or draw attention to gun rights, t shirts, pins, and even empty holster protests are just as effective (that is to say, not effective) as open carry, without getting the cops called on you. it shows that you are a gun owner who is fighting for their rights without giving people a reason for fear. Like open carry, these expressions won’t change many minds.

    Being on the range, out in the field hunting or working a farm, hiking, or whatever, there are good reasons to open carry. but in the city and suburbs it hurts more then it helps.

    • Bill

      No one seems to open carry AEDs, fire extinguishers or first aid kits, and I’ve needed them far more often than a pistol.

      I actually do carry a small IFAK, concealed.

      • Cmex

        Let me know if you find a rig for carrying a concealed fire extinguisher! XD

  • Talos

    I wouldn’t OC for one simple reason: it announces to government and law enforcement that you own a gun and sticks a name, face, gait on it (for facial recognition, g GA it recognition, etc, with cameras everywhere). You oppose a government database listing all gun owners but then do the job of basically putting your details into a database by OCing everywhere? Call it paranoid but OC basically does the job of a database by other means.

    • RNC1773

      Uh, same exact thing is already accomplished by getting the CC license.

  • GreyGeek77

    In my town there were two recent cases of OC enthusiasts losing their weapons to thugs. In one case the thug had a gun and in another the thug hit the victim on the head before taking the weapon. OC throws away the strategic advantage of surprise and first shot opportunity. It is tactically stupid. And, in today’s political environment OC is counter productive. Two businesses posted No Guns after a group flaunting OC angered patrons. It makes me wonder if they weren’t really anti-2A masquerading as pro gun but deliberately being obnoxious.

  • John Wisch

    It is totally legal to Open Carry your Cash ! And your Credit Cards for that matter. Same thing with your Social Security Card.

    If you feel that you need to protect the privacy of the condition and amount of your cash, credit cards that you are carrying and their numbers, and your social security numbers out of concern for being robbed, pick pocketed, exploited, made a target or victim out of.

    Then why are people so fast to want to put their pistol into the public eye, to let any convicted felon, gang member, insane person, serial killer, or stupid kid who is on drugs and needs more drugs and makes poor impulse control decisions daily. Why do you want to advertise not only your weapon, but also exactly where you are carrying it.
    Really stupid !

    Next are you aware there are these weird people in our society called college educated liberals? They are stinking every where and they no everything. They have phones and pens and they aren’t afraid to use them. Why do you want them freaked out and reporting you for no reason at all creating grief for you and stoking paranoia for them.

    I will pass, furthermore. Only about 1% to 3 % of Firearm/Gun owners actually train with them. Even less take professional weapon retention, weapon disarm classes.
    So practically no CCW permit holders or Constitutional State Carriers have any where approaching proper training. For those that do welcome to the 1% you are awesome.
    All the rest are simply armed Rambo wannabes with a large false sense of security.
    The pistol is not your weapon. You are the weapon your pistol is just a good tool.

    Lastly, myself and the people like me of which I no several we have no problem removing pistols from other peoples holsters. With and without retention. We train it, we do it, and we do it regularly. We remove pistols and knives, and clubs from peoples hands as well as they are fighting against us at speed.

    If we are good guys doing it. Think about the bad guys that are doing it. Many are, and others do it regularly on the street for a living.

    If you practice Active Combatives good for you. If you don’t, start. If you have limited physical capacity, then go slow.
    You must develop your PROPER COMBATIVE MINDSET before your
    PHYSICAL PROWESS or ABILITY matters that much anyway…
    The important thing is that you start training now. Tomorrow is coming whether you are ready for it or not. Better to be ready. Some people call it being prepared.
    Everybody can shoot a gun, its about being able to do it effectively, fast enough, while under extreme pressure and duress.
    Best wishes.

  • sean

    CC all the way. It keeps people around you more comfortable by them not knowing and makes you less of a target. Plus all the people I see OC look really trashy and give the impression of being “That Guy”, which nobody really wants to be “That Guy”.

  • AirborneSoldier

    Open carry makes you a target. Cc gives you options.

    • Darron Wyke

      “open carry makes you a target”
      [Citation needed]

  • maodeedee

    The disadvantages of open carry are obvious and I need not belabor the point. But the advantages are that if enough people did it we would eventually get the bed-wetters accustomed to seeing ordinary people openly carrying firearms and there would be less irrational fear and greater public acceptance of our right to keep and near arms.
    If you choose to open carry, don’t walk a5round with a chip on your shoulder, be polite and courteous, and don’t wear paramilitary garb or t-shirts with “from my cold dead hands” written on them. Make it a point to look upscale.
    I live in a semi rural area where open carry is seen on occasion and I have tried open carry and some people looked at me funny, but most people have come up to me an politely asked me questions about it and it’s given me to opportunity to educate people but before I could do that I had to study the penal codes of my state so that I know what I’m talking about.
    The other advantage to open carry is you can carry a lot more firepower in a holster that is more accessible. When carrying concealed I carry the gun that is most powerful for it’s size and weight, but the less bulk that I have to deal with the more comfortable it is during a long day.

  • Aaron E

    20 years in law enforcement, and still active, and work in a State that has long had Open Carry and Concealed Carry. NRA Life Member and big 2nd Amendment supporter.

    I’m O.K. with open carry, but it is problematic. It becomes uncomfortable for all. Thankfully it is very infrequent. Dispatchers are trained to get specific information on the event from the caller (carrying or brandishing, holstered or un-holstered, disturbance involved?). Most often officers will contact caller first and determine if any action is even needed. Usually our only contact with firearm owner will come if business owner wants the person to leave. Otherwise we educate caller and move on.

    If someone asks my opinion I tell them it is smarter and less of a hassle to just get the Concealed Carry permit and keep it out of view. First, why let bad guys know you’re armed beforehand, or to possibly ambush attack you to take your firearm. Second, you make a lot of people uncomfortable and raise the chance of being told to leave a business or get an uneducated officer asking a bunch of questions.

  • DaveGinOly

    “If you carry your gun openly, you’re making yourself a target.” It was, he said, basic logic. The guy carrying a gun was going to be singled out by a nervous assailant or thief. Convenience store robbery? Thugs would take out the most obvious threat first, or at least that was his theory. Of course, this particular instructor is well known for his experience and skill in these matters, which makes me tend to believe he knows precisely what he’s talking about.

    With the exception of open carriers who are attacked for their guns, this is a myth. Nobody has ever been targeted during a robbery or mass shooting because they were open carrying. This is as much a myth as “Liberalizing carry laws will result in blood in the street” and “Wearing a concealed carry vest will get you killed.” It doesn’t happen.

    As for those who are assaulted for their firearms – people are assaulted for the money they carry, the shoes they wear, and the cars they drive. Have you ever suggested that people stop carrying money, wearing shoes, or driving cars? Probably not. Although OC can attract certain types of attackers, it can also dissuade others, something that concealed carry can’t do. But every time an open carrier is assaulted for his firearm, those opposed to OC deride his lack of situational awareness and making himself a target. Yet when a concealed carrier is assaulted and successfully defends himself, I never see them knocked for their lack of situational awareness, or for carrying something of value that invited an attack that ended in a use of lethal force. (Because one of the tenets of carrying is to avoid situations in which the firearm’s use may be necessary, carrying anything of value that might invite attack should be discouraged, if one carries the rule to its logical conclusion. So if you’re armed, and are attacked for your iPhone, you’re responsible for the deadly situation that may ensue?)

    Let’s face it – OC and CC both have their merits and both create problems. Which you use should be determined by the tactical situation(s) you anticipate, the environment you will be operating in, and other considerations. It’s not a simple matter of “one is better than the other.”

    Written by a concealed (almost all the time) carrier.

    • Darron Wyke

      Thank , a voice of sanity.

      Well-written and concise.

  • Cmex

    I am honestly neutral about both modes of carry. I believe that just having a functional gun ready with you when you need it is the most important thing. The details on how you carry it, what the gun is, and the rest are much less important than simply being able to defend oneself with lethal authority. I am unhappy with the slander that open carry receives from concealed carry supports, however.

    I have yet to see any concrete evidence of OC reliably making targets of its practitioners. In fact, given the near total lack of articles about OCers being attacked at all, it seems to me like Open Cary is an effective deterrent.

    “But open carriers get targeted for their guns.”
    Well, concealed carriers have been robbed of their guns, too, and far more of them have been robbed overall, even accounting for proportions. If open carry were so stupid, then why do security services usually have their members be openly armed? By the gripe’s logic, this should be equal to a free gun buffet and the result would be near universal concealment of police firearms, and perhaps the non-universal issuing of firearms just to keep thugs on their toes.

    “But police officers are often shot with their own weapons.”
    This typically occurs when a lone officer is attempting to arrest a strong, defiant person and the gun is grabbed in the struggle. Open carriers are not in the business of arresting wanted criminals as a matter of routine. Studying the use of force against police officers suggests that genuine attempts at killing officers are scarce and most violent encounters with law enforcement end with surrender by the suspects. In short, the great majority of the few who would actually fight the cops are fully aware that actually killing a cop means signing their own death warrant.

    “But it gets the cops called on you.”
    In places with legal open carry, even if someone makes a call, the dispatcher or the officer, usually both, know to just ignore it or make a quick pass and only get involved if something’s up. OC can mean a lot of things, from an armored car guard on a lunch break to a knucklehead with an AR15 and a camcorder hoping to get themselves some YouTube fame. The great majority of incidents between law enforcement and open carriers comes from people who parade about with black rifles and then make a point of arguing with the officer. The people in those vids carry visually striking rifles for a reason. Open carry of a rifle is your right, but that doesn’t make it always appropriate. The only way to make these already uncommon occurences further decrease is to casually open carry frequently wherever possible.

    “But open carry galvanizes the hoplophobes”
    And CC doesn’t do anything to enlighten them. I’ve had a couple of talks with people who’ve seen me open carrying. These have all turned out to be actually constructive and enlightening. By taking the object of fear and making it part of the mundane, the fear is overcome by the reality. By talking with the reasonable man with the gun on his hip, the uninitiated get to meet one of the crazed gun nuts they were told would flood the streets with blood, and see that the gun neither drives men mad, nor that those who carry them are insane. You cannot enlighten someone about the reality of carriers and self-defense if all such conversations are preempted by having the conversation starter piece hidden away from all human eyes. What happened in California with the banning of unloaded open carry was unfortunate, but it set the stage for the next step in the battle for rights. By banning unloaded open carry, California effectively made it impossible for people to carry, but now it doesn’t have the excuse of being able to claim that anyone is free to open carry an unloaded firearm if they want; its restrictive measures can now be challenged directly.

    “But thugs will shoot you first”
    I know the scenario you’re thinking of — mass shooting, bank robbery, store heist, or something like that, where the perpetrator will find and prioritize the armed person and shoot them first. This is actually quite rare and most crooks are looking to get rich, not charged with murder. They’re more likely to just go after the first person they see moving non-compliantly simply because they aren’t complying. The fear of being shot themselves, combined with fear of facing greater repercussions makes them more likely to either abort or waste effort controlling you than on perpetrating the crime. And oftentimes, the OC’ing person isn’t just standing visibly out in the open; they’re standing in line, or behind some shelves,seated at a table, in the bathroom — anywhere but easy line of sight with their gun perfectly hanging out.

    “But muh element o surprise”
    The element of surprise is an offensive tactic for taking an enemy off guard. It’s typically employed against what appear to be low threat level targets that present a low direct threat but could cause a nuisance later on. Since CC’ers talk about desiring the element of surprise, they fail to recognize that just them being jumped or approached for a robbery represents being on the receiving end of the element of surprise. Robbers are already expecting perhaps some kind of resistance, so trying to suddenly yank out a gun, especially if you don’t keep it ready, isn’t something they wouldn’t’ve failed to anticipate. Coincidentally, what’s a good way to not be waylaid? Showcasing a deterrent to appear more trouble than your worth, like say, by OC’ing a firearm.

    “But the United States Concealed Carry Association told me open carry is dumb.”
    Their name alone should be a giveaway that they have their own agenda and interests. Asking them if you should open carry is like asking a bishop if you should convert to Islam

    “But concealed carry criminals won’t know .who’s armed so they’ll avoid us all”
    Criminals are not the world’s brightest people. If they were, they’d realize that crime is a terrible proposition from a risk-vs-reward standpoint. Even to most people, out of sight is out of mind. Criminals also victimize others, so even if they have an idea somewhere they somebody may have a hidden gun, they’ll still wager their odds as being good enough to go at it regardless. Yes, John Lott’s “More Guns Less Crime” did make a great case for the effect of right to carry in reducing crime and being effective at stopping attacks in progress. Yes, Josh Stossel made a very strong case that criminals fear and avoid armed victims and also frequently hear about such victims. Yes, Gary Kleck made an excellent report showing them armed self-defense is common and effective. But he also pointed out that the single most common action involving a firearm which defeated a criminal was just the criminal being aware that their victim was armed by seeing the firearm in question. America is an armed society and even this basic fact does not deter large numbers of criminals due to out of sight out of mind thinking.

    Carry is a vital right. Whether you OC or CC, what really matters is that you have a gun. There is no evidence to suggest that open carry makes someone into a choice target, nor is there evidence to suggest that concealed carry gives us all herd immunity from crime. The real important battles to be fought are not against each other, but against the enemies of gun fights and the eternal threat of crime.

  • JumpIf NotZero

    Except that it’s no accident. It’s entirely intentional to drive ad traffic.

    The lowest form of content.

  • Gerald Lyon Jr

    Boxers or briefs? Same question.