This post addresses the issue of concealed vs. open carry of handguns.
One of the things I love about gun owners is that they (as a whole) are a fiercely independent sort. They take what you tell them and apply it to their life and toss it up to winnow out what works for them and what doesn’t.
As an instructor of firearms I run into this very often, and it has definitely impacted my teaching style. If you have read my book, or taken one of my classes you will know that I when asked “what kind of gun should I buy” I refuse to give a make and model but (sometimes infuriatingly) quiz the questioner on what they want the gun for and help them decide for themselves, because, if they ever have to use it, I want them to have what works for THEM and not me…
Once a shooter knows the fundamentals, and the law of their jurisdiction, they can begin the journey toward being able to effectively employ a handgun for self defense. There are several schools of thought, and I can give my opinion, but in the end it is the gun owner that must decide what works for them.
With that in mind, and because of two incidents I will post videos of below (they are not ccw/open carry per se, but about law enforcement dealing with the armed citizen), I have had firearm usage bubble up to the front of my mind. I knew this would be a controversial post on youtube, and it has gotten quite a few comments but before I go further I would like to give a few caveats:
- I have no problem with open carry. I think it is how the framers of the Constitution envisioned the bear arms portion of the 2nd Amendment.
- I don’t have a problem with seeing guns in public, I carry one every chance I legally can, and feel a sense of fraternity with other individuals that take responsibility for their own life. They get the same knowing wink I give a guy wearing a “shoot me first” vest (oops I meant 5.11 Vest).
- I am not telling you how you should carry your gun. It’s called personal protection, so how can I tell YOU protect how to YOU…
My mindset, therefore the direction of the majority of my classes revolves around the defensive rather than sporting uses of firearms. So when I think and talk about handgun carry I want every edge possible. That’s why as a general rule I advocate concealed rather than open carry.
Defensive use involves your reaction to a threat. I carry a gun because I know that bad guys exist and that they may choose me as a target. If they pick me, I want to have the most effective tools at my disposal. But I am not expecting an attack. If I was expecting an attack, I would either not be there, or I’d have a buddy on over watch with a .50.
So my use of a handgun in a defensive situation would be unexpected (not a “surprise” just unexpected). This gives the criminal the upper hand at the initiation of the problem. At this point I am reacting. Action is faster than reaction.
One of the big youtube comment streams was I am less likely to be attacked if I am open carrying. I admit that is likely to be true. However, you cannot prove a negative. You may not have been attacked because of your gun, OR you might not have been around a criminal planning a violent assault. My manner of dress, speech, presence, and alertness are my main deterrents.
In my mind MY gun is not used as a deterrent, it’s used as a fight stopper. And so I would rather employ it most effectively as a defensive tool than as a signpost saying “hey I got a gun, pick someone else.” If someone has to be chosen by the thug – that “oh crap, I didn’t know he had a gun” look is priceless on a thug.
Feel free to comment, and disagree. I have put a lot of time into developing this idea of what, how and why I carry a firearm, and it works for me, so I won’t be mad at you for disagreeing. If you have a better way, or a rational argument, who knows I may evolve to a better program.