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Thread: Our (stated) reasons for carrying...

  1. #1
    Campaign Veteran marshaul's Avatar
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    One thing I have found interesting since I started OCing and reading these forums are the reasons people give when asked "Why do you carry?"

    Here on the site, much talk is made about open carry as a form of activism, "A right not exercised is a right lost" and all that.

    Yet, it seems that many people bring up self-defense as their primary reason for carrying when asked in public by a stranger.

    In my own case, I don't really carry for self-defense. That's not to say I wouldn't use my weapon for self-defense in the unlikely event that it were necessary, and it certainly isn't to say that I don't maintain a higher level of situational awareness when carrying (because I do), but my reasons for carrying have a lot more to do with the point we're all trying to make than they do with self-defense.

    If everybody (or nearly everybody) openly carried, I would likely leave my gun at home more often, just for the convenience of not having it. However, as it stands I never take it off.


    As a result, when people question me on my motivations for carrying, I always tell them the same thing: although self-defense is a valid reason and it's the reason most people have for carrying, my primary reason for carrying is to exercise a right which is in danger of being lost forever.

    What really impresses me is the kind of reactions I've had. One girl gave me a hug and told me "that is the best reason I've ever heard anybody give for why they carry a gun!" and another guy (an employee at a certain burger chain we all love ) used his employee discount to pay for several burgers I had ordered to go after I outlined Virginia's laws to him and explained why I carry.

    The first, obvious conclusion I have come to is that most people (Americans at least) are unafraid when they see a gun being openly carried by a person who is behaving
    in a responsible, peaceful manner, despite whatever preconceived notions they may have about guns and carrying, and their own fear thereof. To put it another way, I have had friends tell me "guns intimidate/scare me" who later confess that they no longer have any notion that they fear seeing a gun after seeing me regularly open carry. One of my ladyfriends went from telling me she was intimidated by my gun to telling me (after a few drinks I suspect ) that she felt like I was her bodyguard. I have since taught her how to shoot my 1911 - this a girl who had never even fired a .22. (I have to say I was really impressed by her handling of the .45 on her first time at any range - so much for all that nonsense about a .45 being hard to control!)

    At any rate, the second conclusion I have come to was a little less obvious. Although there are doubtless many people who don't carry because of the perceived legal hassle of doing so, the ultimate reason most people don't carry is because they don't feel they really need to carry a gun for self-defense. If they did, they would have likely gone through the minor hassle of obtaining a concealed carry permit, and if they had done that they would be unlikely to stop and ask about open carry. So, you could say that most people who will stop and ask you about open carry are likely to be people who feel that they, themselves don't really need to carry a gun for self-defense. This is evidenced by how often people will ask you what your job is, or if you work in something related to law enforcement, etc - they are assuming that since they don't feel the need to carry, your job must be dangerous enough that you do.

    Of course, when you explain that you're an ordinary citizen with a perfectly safe job, some of these people will be unable to, shall we say, resonate with your reasoning - if they don't need to carry, and you have a job just as safe as theirs, why should you?


    On the other hand, whatever "side" of the political "fence" people find themselves on, many Americans are, one way or another, afraid for the future of our country and, more specifically, afraid of an overreaching Federal government stepping on their toes.

    So, whether they are a Democrat who fears the executive branch seizing too much power, or a Republican who fears the loss of second amendment rights, most Americans will understand an action when placed in their terms. The idea that we live in times where all of our rights are slowly being ratcheted away, and that to preserve a right you must exercise it, and that therefore in these times it is especially important to exercise those rights most in danger, is an idea that resonates with many Americans, even those who might not think of themselves as especially pro-gun.

    This is the reason I always take the time to explain my reasoning in full when someone asks me why I'm carrying. Although I don't expect to "convert" any radical anti-gun nuts, I am sure that this approach is effective in those cases where the person is not opposed to gun ownership per se, but may not understand why the average citizen needs to carry for self-defense, when we live in such a "safe" country.

    What do you guys think?

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    "although self-defense is a valid reason and it's the reason most people have for carrying, my primary reason for carrying is to exercise a right which is in danger of being lost forever."

    That's a pretty powerful statement that's hard to tear apart, considering everything that you see/hear in the media. I might have to borrow that.


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    Disclaimer: I haven't OC'd enough to have any of these interactions with strangers. All of my discussions have been with skeptical friends, and my approach may not work as well with strangers.

    My first line of argument is deterrence. I point out that having a gun on my hip makes it very likely that anyone considering an assault, robbery, or whatever would decide that this is a bad place and time for it. If I were to conceal my weapon, there is a greater chance that I might have to use it, and I don't want to do that. Concealing also means that if I'm not the target of the attack, someone may get hurt before anyone can do anything to stop it, but seeing my gun may well stop it before it starts.

    At this point, sharper people point out that having the gun visible means that if a bad guy decides to do something anyway, his first act may be to shoot me. I respond that I understand this and have decided it's a risk I'm willing to take because it makes society safer.

    They often go into the "but what if a bad guy grabs your gun?" argument, which just gives me an opportunity to demonstrate my retention holster. In a private setting, I do this by unloading the gun and then inviting them to try to take it. I give them a second or two of non-resistance before I knock their hand away, pivot and step to face them and open the range, then draw to a Sul position, pointing out that if it were a real situation the gun would be up and pointed at them, not pointing at the ground.

    That's fun, but you obviously couldn't do it in the electronics section at Wal-mart. In a public encounter I guess I'd just tell them that I train to in techniques to defeat gun grabs and use a holster that locks the gun in place so it's difficult for anyone but me to get it out. I might invite them to pull on the grip a little while covering the release with my hand.

    I've found this "protecting others via deterrence" line of argument more productive than the "self-defense" or "to excercise a right" arguments. Making the point that keeping the gun visible means that it's less likely I'd have to use it defuses the "vigilantism" response, and if they actually get into the "gun grab" scenario, it gives me a chance to demonstrate that I've put a lot of thought into this and take the responsibility very seriously.

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    marshaul wrote:
    (I have to say I was really impressed by her handling of the .45 on her first time at any range - so much for all that nonsense about a .45 being hard to control!)
    I've found that people only find higher calibers hard to control if they're lead to believe beforehand that it will be. Once you've taught them the fundamentals on something like a .22, you can usually hand them nearly anything else and they'll put nearly the same groupings on the paper.

    My wife is 5'4", and about a size 4 (God how I'll pay if I'm high on that one), and easily put in a 2" group with someone's .500 revolver last year. Sadly, the owner had something closer to a 2 foot group, and nearly knocked himself out several times with it. The kids in the shooting program I coach do the same when I let them try out my 1911 as a change from the .22s they usually shoot. They know the fundamentals, and they know that it's just another firearm.

    People, in general, will meet your expectations as long as you are supportive and encouraging about the topic. That applies to both instruction, and to interactions with the public. The reason I give for open carrying tends to matter a lot less than how I discuss the topic with them. I will say that, when people see me carrying and ask, I tell them that I carry for self-defense, but I open-carry to let people like them know that they can as well.

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    There isn't just one reason why I OC. One of the main reason's why I carry is because I feel that our society is starting to deteriate. The common values once held by our fellow countrymen have been distorted to the point that many of our own children don't know how to act in public. When I turned 21 I went through the NRA safety class to obtain a CHP, knew I could OC, but feared that I wasn't mature enough to do so. Now that I'm 33 in the wake of the tragedies I've witnessed just in those twelve years alone, I've come to understand that no-one is going to protect you or your loved ones. It is up to you personally to take on this responsibility. If for some reason the earth cracks open and swallowsme whole then so be it, but if I have the slightest chance to save my family I'm going to be prepared. I wouldn't even refer to this notion as self-defense, I call it self-preservation or human nature. We are lucky enough to live in this country and state that allows us to exercise this freedom. In some countries owning a gun isn't even debated it's a part of everyday life. Until I feel safe from the threats we face daily I'm sticking to my guns:?

  6. #6
    Founder's Club Member Tess's Avatar
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    I carry for self-defense - for me, my family, and those around me.

    I carry openly for many other reasons - including exercising a right, freeing myself from the requirement to carry ID, in case I choose to go to a restaurant that serves alcohol, to illustrate the fact that gun owners are not crazy sociopaths, and probably a few dozen permutations of these reasons.
    Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every man present his views without penalty there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population. -Albert Einstein

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    Moderator / Administrator Grapeshot's Avatar
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    Tess wrote:
    I carry for self-defense - for me, my family, and those around me.

    I carry openly for many other reasons - including exercising a right, freeing myself from the requirement to carry ID, in case I choose to go to a restaurant that serves alcohol, to illustrate the fact that gun owners are not crazy sociopaths, and probably a few dozen permutations of these reasons.
    Well said Tess.

    I carry for defensive purposes.

    I choose to open carry for convenience, political/educational reasons and when that is the only legal option.

    Yata hey
    You will not rise to the occasion; you will fall back on your level of training. Archilochus, 650 BC

    Old and treacherous will beat young and skilled every time. Yata hey.

  8. #8
    Campaign Veteran marshaul's Avatar
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    Tess wrote:
    I carry for self-defense - for me, my family, and those around me.

    I carry openly* for many other reasons - including exercising a right, freeing myself from the requirement to carry ID, in case I choose to go to a restaurant that serves alcohol, to illustrate the fact that gun owners are not crazy sociopaths, and probably a few dozen permutations of these reasons.
    I can agree with this. I can attest that the reason I never bothered to get a CHP is because of the OC laws in Virginia.

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