Those who choose to carry their weapons openly are making a statement every time they step out their door. It forces everyone who sees them to confront the whole gun issue. There may be some who are morbidly afraid of the kind of people who would carry a gun, and they will run away. There may be some who come over and slap you on the back and commend your civic spirit. There may be some who promptly call 911 to report you, and when the police come you get to have a nice conversation about municipal laws and the Second Amendment to the US constitution. Educating is important, but it might make you late to a meeting.
Open carry can start some beneficial conversations. Sadly, those most likely to start a conversation with you about it are the true believers on the other side who will try to browbeat and berate you. (That always amuses me. Here they are, claiming that citizens carrying guns will lead to blood in the streets because those carrying are just looking for somebody to shoot, and then they start yelling at you for having the audacity to flaunt your lethal weapon. If they truly thought you were a violent nut case, what does that make them as they try to bully you?)
Having said that, it truly is beneficial to American society in the long run for the patient proselytizers to carry their weapons in the open. It is sort of like refusing to get up from the Whites Only lunch counter, or refusing to go to the back of the bus. Many groups try to steal the honor and luster of the Civil Rights movement for their own cause, but the second amendment really is part of the US constitution and is worthy of fighting for. I don't see the comparison as unreasonable.
Openly carrying a gun also shows the general public over and over that a person who is not a police officer can carry a weapon and not shoot anybody at the grocery store or otherwise going about their business. There will be a slow desensitization in our society that will go on, until spotting a pistol on someone's belt is observed and evaluated by the average person like an interesting car or unusual boots, just part of the landscape. There is also the salutory effect on criminals who choose not to attack in a place with armed citizens. Even if they don't choose to attack the person with the gun, they don't know if that person might seek to rescue your un-armed victim. It makes their life harder.
The decision of whether to carry one's sidearm openly as opposed to concealed was an easy one for me. Carrying openly leaves nothing to the imagination of the public: That man or woman is carrying a lethal weapon. Granted, it is a choice only for those who have paid for a CCW permit. The rest must carry their weapons openly or not at all. I have carried a concealed weapon for many years now, and not once has it been noticed in public. I like the fact that I draw no attention to myself, and prefer it because in a crisis situation, the first targets would be those carrying weapons the criminal could see. I engage anyone I can in pro-gun discussions, but I have more control over the where and when if I am not on exhibit by carrying in an openly visible way. My preferred venue is the written word. I seem to have made one anti-gun blogger abandon his site in dispair after a few exchanges on his blog.
Each of us has the responsibility to restore our constitution to its original place of honor in American society. We have come a long way in twenty years with the second amendment, and it is the steady pressure of logic and the documentable benefits of liberalized gun laws on the reduction of violent crime. If you are among those who carry openly, I am one of those guys who commend you on your civic spirit!