I love open carry, and wish I could do it. I live in Texas and there is no open carry, yet. More and more states across the country are approving regular citizens to carry a gun in the open and people are taking advantage of it. Most is good ways. The everyday ways that no one ever hears about. Some are not so good ways, the ones we see in the news. I’m going to talk more about the practical and leave the politics (mostly) alone. Let’s talk about the when, where, how, and gear.
Whether it’s legal or not, there are times when you should and when you should not open carry your weapon. You shouldn’t carry when it may insight violence, or when it will cause violence. Most of us carry a gun to protect others and ourselves. Carrying a gun in the open when people are going to flip out is not a good idea. Someone will call 911, the cops will show up with their guns out. Explaining yourself while a gun is pointed at you is not a good way to spend your afternoon.
Carrying a rifle openly onto an elementary school is not a good idea even if it is legal. Start carrying in areas that you know it will be accepted. Make sure you know the local laws and learn how the local Police will react before hand. If you are going to push where you can carry for political or acceptance reasons, think about doing one little step at a time. Have a plane to cover your weapon if you need to or a way to leave. If someone asks you to cover your weapon or leave you should be respectful and do so. When you carry a gun you have more responsibility then when you don’t. Part of that responsibility is respecting others.
I know the rifle example was extreme and most of us will carry a pistol. When you carry dress appropriately, not like a gang member. Remember that responsibility thing? If you are carrying you need to be more responsible and that includes dressing respectfully. Your clothes shouldn’t make people want to call 911. Also remember that you are representing all gun owners.
If everyone knows you have a gun you need to practice more. On top of your normal skills, learn a couple retention techniques. You also need to practice not touching the gun. You will find yourself touching it, resting your hand on it, and checking on it constantly. As an armored car guard I had to mentally break the bad habit of hooking my right thumb on my holster at the trigger guard. While not an aggressive movement, it made people uncomfortable (especially when I worked in Southern California). It doesn’t only make non-gun people nervous it makes other people carrying guns around you nervous. They will wonder if you are going to do something dangerous or if there is danger you see that they don’t.
Lastly the gear you use should be planned as open carry. Think about how you carry, and what you carry. You don’t need to wear a batman belt with everything on it. Think conservatively. Your gun and a spare magazine or two is probably all you need. Your holster should also be conservative. Don’t wear a leg holster like a SWAT cop. Also wear something of high quality and that has a manual retention devise. Wearing a holster with just friction retention is a good way to lose it to someone else or drop it. When you carry in the open you will find that the weapon will get hooked on everything. If you have a traditional thumb break or something else like Safariland’s ALS (my personal favorite) it will keep your weapon in the holster, off the ground, and out of the wrong hands. I also suggest something that rides close to your body. Cops wear the weapon off-set because of their body armor and all the other crap they wear. Consider a holster that rides close to your body. It will be more comfortable walking around and sitting. Same thing with the magazine pouch, keep it close to the body. Your weapon will thank you.