Excerpt, full article here
All citizen carriers have their own favorite method of carry. Each reason is personal and unique to the individual. Problems arise when one person insists only one method of carry is correct and denies any argument to the contrary. Open carry unfortunately suffers undeserved vilification, which is often supported with rumor and unproven assertions. At worst, someone may be deterred from the only method of defensive carry they have available. It's not okay to scare someone out of self-defense.
From the handful of documented times an armed citizen was targeted, each incident has many nuances that negate the simplicity of the supremacists’ arguments. Furthermore, it will take an epidemic, rather than a few isolated stories, usually tied to someone unprepared to use their weapon, before totally discounting open carry’s validity. Concealed carriers are also subject to the same threats. Let’s take a look at some incidents:*
June 2010, Milwaukee, WI (confirmed open carry)
An open carrier was robbed at gun point for his gun. Details are sparse, but the citizen was locally known as “the guy with the gun.” Though it could simply be prejudice, a neighbor (who also admitted to be scared by seeing the openly carried pistol) felt that the man carried out of bravado. "I think he was trying to scare people off like, 'Yeah, don't mess with me,' kind of attitude, but it didn't work." Open carry isn’t about projecting a tough attitude or a substitute for being tough or street-smart.
Nik Clark, of Wisconsin Open Carry, summed up the situation perfectly. "By and large it is a significant deterrent…but I think it really does make the point that Wisconsin should have concealed carry along with open carry so that people who live in a very high crime neighborhood where criminals aren't deterred by firearms would have the ability to conceal carry to protect themselves.” In some places and situations, concealed carry is the better option, which is why both methods allow for flexibility.
Nov. 2011, Richmond, VA (confirmed open carry)
A sixteen year old thug and an accomplice followed the open carrier into a BP gas station. At some point, a struggle occurred. "The suspects walk in and one immediately reached for [the victim's] gun." The victim was unable to draw his firearm in response. Now disarmed, the victim began to chase the now-armed suspect, who was shot in the chest and killed. The suspect later murdered another man with the stolen gun. The suspect was apprehended and received a sentence of 40 years in prison.
It’s unknown if the victim was using a retention holster or not but appears that the victim was taken by surprise. What probably got him killed was chasing the suspect into the store. Chasing a bad guy with a gun when you don’t have a gun is a bad idea.
Oct. 2014, Gresham, OR (open carry)
The 21 year old had purchased a gun earlier in the day. At 2AM he was on a street corner with his cousin when he was approached by another male who, after asking for a cigarette (a common ruse to get close to someone), brandished his own gun and robbed the young man of his new pistol.
There is enough information in the article to lead one to believe this was not an incident of a person open carrying a loaded firearm for self-defense. Anecdotal evidence around the internet says this isn't exactly a great area of town. Also, nothing good happens after midnight, or so the saying goes.
Rather this reads as a young man, unprepared to use the gun he was carrying, inexperienced with guns, showing it off to his cousin. No mention was made if the weapon was loaded or even holstered.
Dec. 2014, New Orleans, LA (concealed carry)
The victim was approached by multiple males, pistol whipped, and forced to the ground. He was then frisked and relieved of his concealed weapon. The suspects fled. It is unknown if the victim had a concealed weapon permit.
Jan. 2015, Brandon, FL (concealed carry)
A Florida man was arrested and also placed on a mental health hold after he attacked a man legally carrying a concealed weapon (not open carry). Michael Foster, 43, saw that 62-year old Clarence Daniels, shopping for coffee creamer, was carrying a concealed handgun. Foster apparently saw Daniels take his weapon from his vehicle and holster it under his clothing before entering the store.
Security camera footage shows Foster approach Daniels from behind, grab Daniels’ head, and knock Daniels to the ground. After a brief struggle, Foster subdues Daniels. Passersby assisted in restraining and disarming Daniels. During the struggles, Foster was yelling “He has a gun!” Daniels replied “I have a permit! [to carry the weapon].
Shannon Watts, of one of hydra-headed Bloomberg supported groups, posted on Twitter apparently supporting the attack. Such anti-gun groups, through their supporters, are known for advocating such attacks or false reporting to police, known as ‘SWATing’, to harass law abiding guns owners.
April 2015, Yakima, WA (confirmed open carry)
A man was shopping with his children, purchasing a new batting helmet for his son, when he encountered a disheveled man, Trevor Zumwalt. Zumwalt made eye contact with the citizen carrier several times. Zumwalt then drew a baseball bat from the rack and raised it to a swinging position. The citizen turned to take the blow on his arm, drew his pistol, chambered a round, and held Zumwalt at gunpoint until police arrived. The citizen said that he will choose to carry concealed in the future.
The citizen carrier, Brandon Walker, didn’t do anything wrong. It’s unknown what exactly Zumwalt was doing or what his intention was when he attacked; there was no admission or information that Zumwalt was trying to kill because of his pistol or disarm Walker. One thing is certain and that is Walker should have been carrying with a round chambered in his Sig Sauer pistol.
July 2015, New York, NY (concealed carry)
An off-duty NYPD officer was assaulted in a parking garage. A suspect was seen in security video hiding and lying in wait. The suspect ripped a necklace off of the female officer and the two began to struggle over her purse, which contained her pistol. When she attempted to retrieve her firearm, the suspect punched her several times in the face. Once the officer lost control of the purse and the gun, the suspect fled, now armed with the officer’s weapon. He was later arrested. NYPD officials were looking into disciplining the officer for violating department protocols by failing to keep the weapon holstered on her body.
Aug. 2015, Philadelphia, PA (concealed carry)
A robber approached an armed citizen from behind and grabbed the citizen. The men began struggling, and at some point, the citizen's gun fell out of its holster. The men began fighting over the pistol. A shot was fired inadvertently, narrowly missing the (dis)armed citizen. The citizen regained control of the situation and chased the robber out of the store.
The citizen was apparently not using a retention holster, which could have kept his gun from being snatched. In the video, you can clearly see the robber get way too close to the citizen, who is totally unaware that someone is standing so close to him. Such an egregious violation of personal space should have been a huge red flag. This was a failure of situational awareness.
Sept. 2015, Medford, OR (concealed carry)
The victim was carrying his pistol in a holster in the back of his waistband (small of the back), partially concealed by his shirt. He was followed into the restroom by the suspect, who then tried to grab gun. When he was not able to, the suspect punched the victim, who fell to the ground. The victim was disarmed and the suspect forced the victim to run away at gun point. The suspect was later arrested and found to be a felon under the influence of drugs and on parole.
A concealed firearm needs to be properly concealed or entirely out in the open. A poorly concealed firearm lends the impression that one is untrained and unprepared to use it. Furthermore, small of the back carry provides the least amount of control over a firearm of all positions. Yet again, this is a case of concealed carrier being attacked. It’s important to note the presence of a firearm does not magically keep bad things from happening. Sometimes you will be victimized regardless of your precautions simply because tweaking felons don’t make smart choices. All one can do is prepare the best they can for adverse circumstances.
Jan. 2016, Madison, WI (concealed carry)
A Madison man was robbed of cash and his concealed handgun while he was trying to buy marijuana. The drug buyer—an unlawful user of a controlled substance and thus prohibited from possessing a firearm—also had a concealed carry permit. The victim was not injured.
Feb. 2016, Newport News, VA (open carry)
An open carrier was robbed of his firearm. He was approached by two men who demanded his firearm, disarmed him, and knocked him to the ground. Nuances: he’s at a motel that has had several past prostitution and drug busts. Sure, police say he had his gun in a holster, but something sounds odd about this. Could he have been carrying concealed illegally and told police it was open carry to avoid a charge, but still being able to report the robbery and loss of his gun?
Similar incidents across the country have generated more media interest than a single article, with scant details, repeated only in national online publications that appeal to armed citizens and conservatives. At face value, this may be the only actual example of a true open carry example ever, but something is off about this whole incident. Ultimately, this ‘open carrier’ did not have situational awareness and was a coward for not defending himself while armed.
Three incidents confirmed incidents of open carriers robbed or attacked, only one fatality, and one thwarted attack. One of those victims was killed when he chased the now-armed robber down. Two of the open carry incidents can only be dubiously considered to be true cases of open carry. Six of the incidents, the majority, were confirmed to be concealed carry.
What did these events have in common? Most of these events took place during the hours of darkness. What appears to be common thread with those who were disarmed is carelessness, including:
- Repeated failures of situational awareness by letting the bad guys get too close.
- Failure to use a retention holster (including off-body carry).
- No will to fight back.
- No skills at retaining control of the weapon.
- Using the gun as a talisman rather than a serious tool.
The majority of these incidents show, or at least hint at, major failures in judgment and basic self-defense techniques. Human failure, not systemic failure. Three equivocal documented events in recent news don’t amount to a denunciation of open carry as dangerous. It’s like saying concealed carry, with its higher rate of incidents, should be discounted as well.
The assumption that an openly carried weapon constitutes an invitation for victimization is false in light of the isolated incidents. A few events do not constitute an abundance of evidence. Rather, abundant evidence is available that open carry is indeed a deterrent to crime while concealed carry lacks that deterrent factor.
“Open carriers are gonna be the first to be shot.”
Concealed carry supremacists like to think that a bad guy will assume them to be unarmed and either ignore them totally or pay little attention to them. As the criminal is too busy robbing or etc., the concealed carrier will then draw his weapon and fire. Of course, the supremacists imagine those who were openly carrying are now lying dead on the floor. In another scenario, the concealed carrier, though surprised by an incompetent foe waiving his gun around, draw quickly from under their concealment garment and shoot the bad guy. Suddenly, they’ll go from ‘gray man’ to the last thing the bad guy ever sees. All right, in theory.
Criminals aren’t likely to target open carriers to remove any resistance to their crime based on the simple fact that most criminals don’t want any trouble, just a quick and easy score. Shooting someone massively complicates things for him. Executing an open carrier is far more risky than simply going elsewhere or waiting until the armed citizen leaves.
A criminal who starts shooting is at a huge disadvantage compared to an armed citizen. The armed citizen isn’t going to get in trouble for a righteous self-defense shooting. It’s the criminal who fires his gun that has to worry about running from the police and evading homicide detectives. Criminals generally seek easy targets. They are as invested in not getting shot or killed as you, in addition trying to get money. Going after someone who they know is armed introduces an element of risk that they could otherwise avoid.
One argument a concealed carry supremacists made was that concealed carry gives him control. The example was where he is ordered to the ground by a robber. Then, while the robber is momentarily distracted, he will draw his firearm and shoot the robber. First, the supremacist already lost control by not noticing the robber first and then by putting himself in a vulnerable position.
The supremacist’s anti-open carry example was that three bank robbers walk in, see the open carrier, and blast him. In theory, the concealed carrier could appear ‘harmless’ until the opportune time to counter-attack. In the sense of a stealthy bad guy sizing up his target before springing the attack, this theory does make sense, but it is the only time it does. Now what if the bad guys just start randomly shooting people? In most of the mass shootings and terrorist attacks I’m aware of, that’s what happened.
A concealed carrier is just as likely to be a target as anyone else who is unarmed. Blending in with the sheep only has advantages for those who know they are going to be targeted anyway. A wolf will still attack another wolf in sheep’s clothing, but that same wolf isn’t going to go after another wolf that looks just as fierce as him.
“Open carriers do it to get attention.”
Concealed carry supremacists argue that all open carriers are doing it just to draw attention to themselves; that it's somehow an ego boost. This statement comes from someone who probably hasn’t carried openly before or much at all. They imagine that all open carriers are like the Chipotle Ninjas who carried their AR-15s, legally, into a restaurant to make a point that it was absurd for Texas to ban the open carry of handguns (prior to this year). Yes, sometimes people do use open carry to make a point, but the vast majority of open carriers aren't doing it out of vanity.
Many are worried about hearing criticism. Others feel that open carry frightens some and could sway an otherwise moderate person to the gun control side. This was a major argument in Texas during their struggle for open carry. "Out of sight, out of mind" will not change opinions. In fact, seeing normal people harmlessly going about their daily lives with an exposed pistol on their hip reinforces Second Amendment rights, just as the gun in the hands of a gangster has the opposite effect.
The interesting thing about concealed carry supremacists is that they seem to be obsessed with how others perceive them. Worrying about what others think is really self-absorbed. Only in a social environment where opinions do matter (such a family, church, work) should others’ opinions on method of carry be given consideration. Depending on the occasion and audience, one method or the other may project the desired appearance that the armed citizen desires, such as concealed carry at a dressy dinner, but open carry during a tax appointment.
The debate over 'attention' is largely a matter of taste and environment. A citizen carrier with anti-gun customers or friends may want to protect themselves without alienating others. Some people may feel uncomfortable carrying openly. Whatever the choice, it is a personal one and not to be judged or criticized.
The advantage of concealed carry lies in the fact that it may be possible to carry in places where open carriers would be shunned or asked to leave, such as casinos. Legally speaking, (in Nevada) the advantage is with open carry, yet due to modern sensitivities, the discreet option of undetected concealed carry would prevent any debates with anti-gunners or objections to having the weapon on private property where the owner/management might prohibit it. Also, given one’s choice of dress or activities, concealed carry may be more appropriate.
I’m a concealed carry instructor, get a CCW (and pay me to take my course)!
A pervasive and persistent problem is that concealed carry instructors denigrate, misrepresent, and outright lie about open carry. Why? Because open carry is free. These dishonest instructors are engaging in a misguided attempt to earn additional business at the expense of their students. For an instructor, who is supposed to be an expert on their subject matter, it is immoral to offer training which is contrary to reality.
Students are subjected to bombastic rants about all the rumors debunked in this article, leaving them with the false impression that open carry is dangerous. Bad advice has seriously affected the firearms community in Clark County because of instructors who are more interested in promoting their own selfish agendas than provide accurate training. Ego gets in the way and they use their position and influence to impose their opinions on others. When challenged for spreading disinformation, far too many instructors double down on their stance, denying evidence when confronted and dismissing logical arguments.
Are you a concealed carry instructor who demonizes open carry? Your dishonesty is a disgrace to the Second Amendment and self-defense community. A good instructor knows that open carry allows flexibility for self-defense. A good instructor explains the benefits of being able to conceal in places and situations where open carry is undesirable. A good instructor tells their students about the background check discount a permit can get them and the other states that recognize Nevada’s permit. A good instructor tells the truth, lets students decide their own opinions, and doesn’t win business through deceit.