Open Carry vs. Concealed Carry, is something you should think strongly about, if you live in a state that allows both methods of carry. This is a complex issue with strong points and weaknesses to both carry methods. There are several key things you must consider. As we talk about personal protection as a civilian (sheep dog) or someone else’s protection as a law enforcement (sheep dog), we must think about what is and what is not tactically advantageous.
When thinking about Open Carry there are advantages in certain situations, that usually only apply to you. (1) If someone is planning to rob, harm you or make you a victim, they see you are armed. They think more than likely you will put up a fight and they may not have a weapon equal to your firearm (i.e. knife or blunt force object). (2) They may think you are a law enforcement officer, ex-military, or trained citizen and would rather not have a trained person, or the police force coming down on them. (3) Location is a big factor, are you in a rural area? Possibly hunting or hacking and you are worried about predators (i.e. mountain lions, wolves, bears). Open Carry of a personal protection firearm would be best in this scenario.
I personally believe, through my LE experiences and actual deadly force encounters, (that do not involve animals), Concealed Carry offers you the most advantages against a criminal attack. (1) You are not being targeted right of the bat if a criminal sees you are armed and is adamant about making an attack. (2) The element of surprise is on your side and you choose when to press the attack/advantage. The shock of being confronted with an armed individual may force a peaceful outcome to the encounter. (3) I believe the possibility of a concealed weapon on someone is more of a deterrent to a criminal than them knowing who is armed. This forces the bad guys to be on a 360 degree swivel, not you.
I’m not a fan of open carry in an urban environment. The element of surprise is a good thing IMHO. Even when I was an off duty police officer, I went with concealed carry. I more than surprised a few bad guys when I drew down on them and they had no idea someone was carrying. If they had seen me open carrying, I would have been a target right off the bat, as I cannot see everything that is going on around me. This was a tactical decision, to always conceal carry. The bad guy cannot target you first if they don’t see your armed.
In our current political climate, I feel open carry works against us, in an urban environment. I have always lived in very firearm friendly states (i.e. Utah and Tennessee). In rural areas, I have no problem with open carry as most people are on the same thinking page. In urban areas, I feel Open Carry is doing harm to those that might be on the fence regarding firearms. Also, as mentioned above, I feel it is tactically to my advantage to conceal in most situations. Although it is our right to bear arms, I cringe every time I see a guy on the news carrying his AR15 or M1A, in a store or down main street. This draws negative attention to responsible firearms owners. Most of our politicians and left wing citizens see this and try to push more restrictive firearm laws.
Update: Personal Defense Network 6/04/13
After taking with Rob Pincus of I.C.E. training about this issue, he gave me permission to link his Personal Defense Network (PDN) video on, “Appropriate Open Carry “. In this video Rob states several other reasons that conceal carry is a better option in most cases (not all). Rob’s opinion while his own, is not to be taken lightly, in my opinion. Rob also can state things more eloquently than I can.
Link: Appropriate Open Carry
Whatever method you choose to carry, think about all the options and ramifications of your choice. Open Carry may or may not work in some environments and Concealed Carry may or may not work in those same environments. Think hard about what gives you the advantage in the area you find yourself in. If you are in the Alaskan wilderness, concealing a Glock 10mm or S&W 500 probably is not the best choice, if you are worried about bears. On the other hand, open carry downtown in a major city, while it may be your right, probably is not the best idea politically and tactically. Remember, your actions as a responsible firearms owner could sway someone’s decision, criminally and politically.
Authors opinion on CCW and Open carry are his alone and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the rest of the staff or the two owners of looserounds.com