The Pros and Cons of Open Carry
On January 1, 2016 Texas became the 46th state to allow citizens to openly carry handguns. Texans had been able to carry a handgun concealed with a Concealed Handgun License (CHL) before that time but since the first of the year they can now carry their handgun either openly or concealed with their current CHL or the new “License to Carry” (LTC) issued by the state.
There are mixed feelings on the issue by Texans, even amongst those who are conservative gun owners. Will open carry lead to more gun free zones? Will open carry lead to more legal restrictions? What are the dangers associated with open carry?
Below we have listed the pros and cons of open carry and hope that you find it helpful:
The Advantages of Open Carry:
1. It is a victory for gun rights in Texas. It is ironic that Texas is actually one of the last states to allow open carry considering the “pro-gun” sentiment in the state. Gun rights activists see the new law as a step in the right direction towards using their second amendment rights.
2. Open carry advocates believe that opportunistic criminals seeing citizens with openly carried handguns will help deter crime.
3. Open carry makes it easier and quicker to access one’s firearm because things such as clothing won’t get in the way. The difference is a fraction of a second but, in a gunfight, that’s an eternity.
4. Open carry is more comfortable. A benefit of open carry is that you are not leaning against your handgun all day when sitting down or having to buy larger clothing sizes (or additional layers) to conceal the weapon.
5. Open carry allows the use of larger and more combat effective handguns. With concealed carry, we are often limited to using smaller guns in order to keep them concealed. Larger guns are often (but not always) easier to shoot because you can get a better grip, you have a longer sight aperture between the front and rear sight, you have a higher magazine capacity, and it is easier to control the recoil for follow up shots.
However, even with these benefits in mind, it is interesting to note that the vast majority of license holders and instructors do not openly carry. Why is that?
The Disadvantages of Open Carry
1. The biggest disadvantage of open carry is that you lose a major tactical advantage...your concealment. In an active shooter scenario, you have a tremendous advantage if the shooter doesn’t know you have a firearm. If a shooter enters a building and sees people with guns on their hips, they can become their first targets.
2. Open carry increases anti-gun sentiments. Many opponents of open carry will point out the fact that those who oppose guns and support gun control will be more active in contacting their representative if they see openly carried handguns. This can become a problem if it leads to the government enacting more gun control laws because of this awareness. To say it another way, open carry can be “bad for the brand.” Gun ownership is under attack due to recent events such as mass shootings, executive orders, etc. Gun owners must present themselves as responsible, non-provoking, humble citizens to help improve the public’s view of us as gun owners.
3. Open carry causes undue alarm. Many police officers have already been called on open carry proponents. In addition to this fear, panic, and even outright confrontation has taken place with those who carry openly and the general public. Consider a scenario where there has been a shooting and the police show up and see five people with open guns. How well will that go?
4. Openly carrying can lead to an attacker taking your gun. When you’re carrying concealed, nobody knows you have a gun. If you carry openly, someone can come up behind you and try to take your weapon. Retention holsters are not legally required under the new law and most gun owners don’t invest in the training to know what to do in a hand-to-hand altercation with a firearm.
5. Open carry leads to more gun free zones. Because the general public doesn’t know the difference between a 30.06 and a 30.07 sign, many businesses will post both signs to keep “gunslingers” out of their establishment. This leads to places that formerly allowed guns to forbid them from everyone, both open and concealed.
With these in mind, most shooting professionals (myself included) favor concealed carry. I believe you should have a right to open carry, but concealed carry seems to be a wiser and more tactically advantageous position.
Whether you decide to carry openly or not, we at Firearms Legal Protection are just glad that you are carrying your weapon to defend yourself and others. We are glad that you are using your second amendment rights as responsible citizens.
You protect yourself, either openly or concealed, and we will protect you.