So open carry is legal where you live and you want to try it. Go for it. I open carry at the gun shop where I work (Sparks Firearms). Now that it is legal in Texas to do so (with a permit), I find myself being lazy when I go back and forth to work. I don’t cover the gun anymore. I used to look really funny wearing a hunting vest over a polo shirt and tactical pants walking around, but it worked. Most people don’t notice or care.
Now that I’m open carrying, I do more to keep myself and my firearm safe. As an open carrier, it is my responsibility to keep myself and my gun safe when out in public. It’s the old “with power comes responsibility” thing. If someone takes my gun, they can kill someone else and I would be partially at fault. Not legally at fault, but for me, morally. I couldn’t handle that, so I take more steps to protect myself when I’m open carrying.
First: I carry a handgun only.
Carrying a rifle is awkward and hard. Having the rifle ready for use makes it even harder to do everyday things, and it makes you look aggressive.
If I saw someone walk into a place while I was there with a rifle at the ready, I’d take a defensive position and call the police. I would already be out gunned having only a pistol on me and I’d want help on the way if things were going south. So I wouldn’t carry a rifle like that and suggest you don’t. We, as the good people that carry guns, don’t need a friendly fire incident.
If you carry the rifle slung across your back, then the rifle is slow to deploy. Don’t believe me? Think you are faster? Get a shot timer and go to the range and see how long it takes you to get that rifle up and firing.
If I was going to carry a rifle open for some political reason, I’d carry a pistol on my side, also. It’s faster and safer to get to. Don’t get me wrong, I have a rifle with me just about every time I go someplace further than I can walk home. I just leave it in the truck in case of extreme emergencies (think the end of the world or hurricane Katrina).
Second: I always use a retention holster.
My current carry holster is a Safariland ALS. In training as a police officer, I’ve had guys off their feet pulling on their guns. Some no-name holsters broke away from the belt. The Safarilands wouldn’t let go even when I had a 180 lbs guy off the ground, both hands on his gun in the holster, and shaking him by the gun. The holster wouldn’t let go until I released the thumb break he had on that holster. Lots of respect for a holster that can do that.
Friction from your concealed holster doesn’t count. You need some lever or snap, or at least a twist or rock motion to release the gun or you are asking to lose your gun. Again, during training, when the guns weren’t snapped in, we could get each other’s guns out of the holster faster than the person with the gun on could react. And that’s during training when we are expecting it. In real life, you could be standing in line and lose your gun before you can realize something is happening.
Get yourself a retention holster and learn how to use it.
Third: Be prepared to handle questions and anti-gun people
Having a Second Amendment discussion is one of the greatest things you could do for the cause, especially with some random person that is asking questions. Be polite, don’t be aggressive, and explain things to them like they have never heard any of the terms you are about to use about guns. They simply don’t know what you know. I’ve been carrying a 1911 and been asked “is that a Glock?” People just don’t know. Some may ask if you can even do that legally. Stupid question to ask someone that is armed if you aren’t, but some people ask stupid questions (yes there is such a thing despite what your 4th grade teacher told you).
If the person is anti-gun and aggressive to you, be prepared to leave. Nothing good can come out of you arguing with someone when you obviously have a weapon and they don’t. In fact, in Las Vegas, it ended in the death of one concealed carrier. Just leave. It will keep you safe and from doing or saying something you’ll regret.
No matter what you say, you won’t convince someone that is anti-gun that you are right when you are carrying a gun openly. Even though you think it’s just you and that person, many people will be watching what you do and how you act. When you do that, you are representing every gun carrying person in the world. Remember to represent our sub-culture well when you talk to idiots because others are watching. One thing I have to remember is an old quote, “when you argue with an idiot, they will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.” So just don’t have that argument.
Fourth: Represent our culture and yourself well.
Dress nicely so you don’t look like a hood. Be clean and well groomed. If you like tactical clothing, this might be your time use it. Look like a good guy with a gun, not a bad guy with a gun. It will help you and the people around you immensely.
Last: Situational Awareness
For the love of all that is holy, please use situational awareness. You need to be doing it all the time to keep yourself alive, but if you are open carrying, you are more of a target. Bad guys want the firearm. Guns are gold to bad guys. It’s a tool they can use to get cash or sell to get cash on the black market. So be careful out there.
Also, keep in mind there are a lot of bad guys out there that will kill you for your gun. So watch your six.