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Open Carry and the Court of Public Opinion

Open or Concealed Carry welcome at Academy Sports
Open or Concealed Carry welcome at Academy Sports
photo by Liston Matthews

To show or not to show, that is the question. The debate will probably continue as long as the debate over the .45 vs. the 9mm. Opinions vary, evidence is sorely lacking for each side of the argument.

Those of us in the gun rights community fall, more or less into just a few categories, when the subject is Open Carry.

  • Some live in jurisdictions where defensive carry is virtually verboten (D.C., Jersey, Hawaii).
  • Some live in states that only allow concealed (discrete) carry.
  • Some live in states that allow open carry of long arms, but handguns must be concealed (Texas).
  • Some have open carry only if you are fishing, or engaged in certain outdoor activities (Florida).
  • Tennessee, like many states, does not specify. Open or concealed carry is legal.

The open/concealed debate usually revolves around the notion that Open Carry creates a tactical disadvantage. Yet, a search reveals only one case of Open Carry as it relates to a criminal activity. The effect was just the opposite. If you can provide hard data of any cases either way, please send links.

BUT, there is another issue that needs to be looked at:

The Court of Public Opinion

Several Texas organizations have just issued a RELEASE, calling on members to, among other things,

1) Always notify local law enforcement prior to the walk, especially the day of
2) Carry Flags and signs during your walk to increase awareness
3) Carry the long gun on a sling, not held
4) Do not go into corporate businesses without prior permission, preferably not at all

Their stance is a good one for advancing the cause of the Second Amendment, because it helps, rather than hinders us all. They have recognized that we not only need to win in court, as the Second Amendment Foundation, and to some extent the NRA have done, but also to win the hearts and minds of their neighbors.

This leads to acceptance, and better influence with our legislatures.

Open carry is good, in that it reveals to John Q. Public that there other than police and bad guys that carry. But it should be tempered with discretion. Remember, if you Open Carry, you are an ambassador for the cause.

The question is, will you, by appearance and actions advance or hinder the cause?


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A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences. Proverbs 22:3 (NLT)

Disclaimer: The information and ideas presented in this column are provided for informational purposes only. Firearms, like cars, kitchen knives and life itself all can be dangerous. You should get professional training as part of any plan to use firearms for any purpose. I have made a reasonable, good-faith effort to assure that the content of this column is accurate. I have no control over what you do, and specifically accept no responsibility for anything you do as a result of reading my columns. Any action or lack of action on your part is strictly your responsibility.

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