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Thread: The Open Carry Argument

  1. #1
    Regular Member Mainsail's Avatar
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    The Open Carry Argument

    My primary goal when I’m out and about (besides whatever I went out and about to do) is to go about peaceably and not be the victim of a violent crime. To that end I carry a firearm whenever I go out as well as follow all the other standard safety practices like maintaining situational awareness, staying out of high crime areas, and avoiding confrontation. I also have a larger overall goal of making it through my life without shooting anyone. Simply put, I don’t want to be responsible, legally or morally, for another’s death. Those two goals might appear at first blush to be mutually exclusive, and with concealed carry it would be a difficult set of goals to realize.

    Carrying a concealed firearm presents to a criminal that I am unarmed. Every study I’ve ever read, not most but every study, says that criminals will avoid an armed person or home when selecting a victim. That only makes sense, right? Robbers, rapists, or carjackers might be dumb and opportunistic, but they have the same instinctual sense of self preservation we all have. Hyenas don’t attack lions to steal the gazelle the lions have just killed. It’s all about risk management; are the potential gains (a tasty gazelle dinner) worth the potential pain and damage the lion’s teeth will cause, and does the hyena really need to test the lion to figure out the answer? No, the hyena can see the lion’s teeth and knows to stay well clear.

    Deterrent Value:
    When I’m carrying concealed I feel like my ‘teeth’ are hidden, and thus of no real deterrent value. If I appear unarmed then I am unarmed in the eyes of the robber, I appear as easy a target as almost anyone else out on the street. My probability of being a victim of a crime, violent or otherwise, is completely unchanged by the fact that I have hidden beneath my shirt the means to defend myself. My goal, however, is not to be a victim in the first place, remember? I don’t want to be a victim that fought back successfully and triumphed; I prefer to not be victimized at all. Concealed carry is good; it throws a wrench in the works for criminals who might see the teeming masses as a smorgasbord of financial gain. This deterrent effect is, nonetheless, indirect. At some point the thug will weigh the risks vs. the gains; is his current desperation for money/drugs/booze/gold grille greater than the gamble that one of those people might be carrying a gun? If he decides to play the odds, which helped along with surprise tip the scale in his favor, he will attack. Will his attack allow enough time for me to draw my concealed firearm to affect a defense? Maybe, but then again, maybe not.

    Remember, I don’t want to be a victim and I don’t want to shoot anyone. So how do I realize both goals; or how do I make them inclusive? I can do that through open carry. By making it clear and obvious that I am armed, that I have teeth, I tip the risk scale to the point that the criminal’s gains are far outweighed by the risk. There is no ambiguity when the thug is doing his risk assessment, there’s something right there in plain sight that can quickly and painfully change or terminate his life. You may not think his life has much value, but as I mentioned before, he has the same sense of self preservation as any other living creature and to him it’s every bit as valuable as yours is to you. It would be foolish to ignore this indisputable fact when you develop your overall tactical strategy.

    First One To Be Shot:
    There are some who criticize open carry and claim it will make you more of a target or ‘the first one shot’ when a robber walks into the 7-11, despite the absolute lack of credible evidence that this has ever happened. If the robber walks in and sees that you’re armed, his whole plan has encountered an unexpected variable. In bank robberies where he might expect to see an armed guard he will have already factored that possibility into his plan, but only for the armed guard, not for open or concealed carry citizens. No robber robs a bank without at least a rudimentary plan. Nevertheless, being present for a bank robbery is an extremely remote possibility for most of us regardless of our preferred method of handgun carry. Back in the 7-11, if he sees someone is armed he is forced to either significantly alter the plan or abort it outright. Robbing is an inherently apprehensive occupation, and one that doesn’t respond well to instant modifications. He is not prepared to commit murder when he only planned for larceny. He knows that a petty robbery will not garner the intense police manhunt a murder would. He doesn’t know if you’re an armed citizen or a police officer and isn’t going to take the time to figure it out. Either way, if someone in the 7-11 is unexpectedly armed, how many others might be similarly adorned and where might they be? Does this armed individual have a partner who is likewise armed behind him in the parking lot, someone who is watching right now? Self preservation compels him to abort the plan for one that is less risky. So we see that the logic matches the history; open carriers are not the first ones shot because it doesn’t make any sense that they would be.

    Surprise:
    Probably the most common condemnation of open carry comes from the armchair tacticians who believe it’s better to have the element of surprise in a criminal encounter. Although this was touched on in the previous paragraph about deterrence, I’ll expand on it specifically here because there are some important truths you need to consider before you lean too heavily on this false support. Surprise as a defensive tactic is based on unrealistic or ill-thought out scenarios. The circumstance where several street toughs surround and taunt you for a while like in some Charles Bronson movie is not realistic; the mugger wants to get in and out as fast as possible. In most cases you will have only seconds to realize what’s happening, make a decision, and react. Imagine you’re walking along the sidewalk when two gangsta looking teenagers suddenly appear at the corner coming in the opposite direction. You have only seconds to react if their intent was to victimize you. Do you draw your concealed firearm now or wait until there’s an actual visible threat? If they are just on their way to church and you pull a gun on them, you are the criminal and you may forever lose your firearms rights for such a foolish action. If you don’t draw and they pull a knife or pistol when they’re just a couple steps away, your only options are draw (if you think you can) or comply. Imagine staring at the shiny blade of a knife being held by a very nervous and violent mugger, three inches from your or your wife’s throat and having to decide whether or not you have time to draw from concealment. The element of surprise may not do you any good; in fact the only surprising thing that might happen is that your concealed carry pistol gets taken along with your wallet. The thug will later get a good chuckle with his buddies about how you brought a gun to a knife fight. The simple truth is that while surprise is a monumentally superior tactical maneuver, it is exclusively an offensive action, not a defensive one. I am not aware of any army that teaches using surprise as a defense against attack. No squad of soldiers goes on patrol with their weapons hidden so that they can ‘surprise’ the enemy should they walk into an ambush.

    It Will Get Stolen:
    Another common criticism of open carry is that the firearm itself will be the target of theft, prompting as criminal to attack simply to get the gun from you. Like the previous example of being the first one shot in a robbery, above, this is despite the fact that there is no credible evidence it happens. It also blindly ignores the more obvious fact that anything you possess can make you the target of a crime, be it a car, a watch, or even a female companion (girlfriend, wife, or daughter). Crooks commonly steal for only two reasons; to get something you have that they want, or to get something that you have so they can sell it and buy something they want. There are no Robins in the hood trying to help the poor by stealing from the rich. I don’t claim it could never happen; just that it’s so remote a possibility that it doesn’t warrant drastic alterations to your self defense strategies. If you believe otherwise, leave your watch, sunglasses, jewelry, and cell phone at home, hop into your Pinto wagon, and head out to do your thing.

    It Scares People:
    One other statement against open carry I hear is that it damages public perception of firearms owners, or that by carrying openly we are not being good ambassadors to the public. While there are some people who have a genuine fear of firearms, due either to some horrible past experience or anti-gun indoctrination, the majority of people are either indifferent to them or quite fascinated by them. I’ve never kept track of the dozens of fellow citizens I’ve encountered who have marveled at the idea of open carry, but I do know exactly how many have expressed displeasure at it; one. People are scared of many things for many reasons; however, pretending those things do not exist only perpetuates the fear. Someone who is disturbed by open carry is going to be every bit as disturbed by concealed carry. The only effective way to overcome a fear is to come to the intellectual realization that the phobia is based on emotion and not on fact. By being a firsthand witness that a firearm was carried responsibly and peaceably, and wasn’t being carried in the commission of a crime, one discovers their fear is not fact based, but emotional. Thus, open carry can be a very effectual way of helping to overcome the emotionally based fear of the firearm. After all, you’d be much more likely to believe in ghosts if you saw one rather than if you listened to a ghost story around a campfire. We give much more credibility to the things we experience than we do to the things we hear. The bottom line is that this argument is made by people who don’t or haven’t carried openly; those of us who do so on a regular basis have an entirely different experience.

    I’m Not Comfortable Carrying Openly:
    This is really the only reasonable argument against open carry for an individual. We all have a comfort zone for any aspect of our lives and we prefer to stay within that comfort zone. We all agree that it’s better to be armed and never need the firearm than it is to need it and not have it. There is a point where concealing your firearm becomes so problematic, due to conditions like temperature or comfort, that some choose to either leave it behind or carry in such a way that it would be difficult or impossible to draw it quickly. If it takes me five or six seconds to draw my firearm from deep concealment and I had sufficient time before hand to do so, I would prefer to use that five or six seconds to avoid the entire encounter. I’m glad we have concealed carry laws in most of the states; it empowers and protects not only us but the general public through the offset deterrent effect. Some of us, however, choose the more direct deterrent effect of open carry. The combination of the two makes the criminal’s job that much more risky, that much more dangerous, and that much more uncertain.

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    Saw this over at THR (http://www.thehighroad.org/showthrea...16#post4605616). BRAVO! As I said there, probably THE BEST piece of OC apologetics I've ever read.

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    That sums up the many reasons why I open carry. I just couldn't put it down in plain english like you did good sir.

    Just remember that not everyone is ready to be unplugged. :P Many aren't ready to hear the truth.

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    So far the crickets are chirping in the Anti-OC crowd. Eventually one will come back with an emotional (read: not fact-based) response.

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    Hear hear. Would it be possible to get this topic stickied?

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    The anti-OC crowd is still nowhere to be found over at THR. The crickets are still chirping.STICKY! STICKY! STICKY!

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    Dahwg wrote:
    The anti-OC crowd is still nowhere to be found over at THR. The crickets are still chirping.STICKY! STICKY! STICKY!
    They're a vocal minority over there.

    +1 for the OP.

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    Mainsail, beautifully written! Couldn't have said it better myself. Comments on THR aren't worth my comments here.



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    Well said.
    Bob Owens @ Bearing Arms (paraphrased): "These people aren't against violence; they're very much in favor of violence. They're against armed resistance."

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    I say, scorpions have stingers, snakes have venom, humans have projectiles. Think about it. What were the first weapons humans would have ever used? Throwing rocks right? Then we went to spears, arrows, all of them projectiles. Then humans invented something that blows up. Then someone got the idea if they contained an explosion they could guide a projectile a certain way down a barrel. So in a sense guns are just the upgraded version of throwing rocks. The universal human defensive weapon is a gun, it came through nature.

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    Beautiful post, Mainsail.

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    I find it very interesting that people view firearms with fear and concern.

    Each day, we travel by personal automobile. When we do so, most states (if not all, by now) require seat belt usage. And few people get upset by it. Maybe a bit miffed, but not angry.

    Most of us have, or desire to have, personal health care insurance. We pay the premiums because we don’t want the financial risk of a serious, expensive illness.
    We purchase home insurance, renter’s insurance,… There is even pet health insurance.

    But, when it comes to personal safety, we have come to the conclusion that it is a good idea to leave it up to the police to protect us. People who carry firearms are viewed as “paranoid” and “gun-nuts”.

    But the very funny thing is: God forbid, come the day that you are in a situation where you may need to defend yourself, those who say “leave it to the police” will be the one most happy to realize that you are armed, and willing to protect yourself and your fellow citizen.

    People all think that that idea of “freedom” is so cool; that it means you can do whatever, whenever. Where they are flawed is that freedom isn’t a happy-happy joy-joy thing. True freedom is a responsibility. You are responsible for your self, and, to an extent, your fellow man. You do not depend on others to provide you with protection, until such time you are no longer able to protect yourself. You stand with yourself, your family, your community, your God. You do not simply relinquish your precious liberty for a false security.

    These words ring ever true, when you understand the real meaning of freedom: “Live FREE, or die!”

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    Even though I mostly CC, I must say that I soundly agree with the advantages that OC has over CC that are presented in this article. However, in an attempt to give some balance to this debate, I would like to give a couple of reasons on why CC is better than OC.

    1. Weapon retention: While it is indeed true that stories of people having their weapons snatched while OCing is rare, they are not nonexistent. Stories of people having their weapons snatched while CCing, on the other hand, are virtually nonexistent. Think about it; how is a BG going to grab for something that he does not evenknow is there?

    2. Man with gun calls to the police: Again, this is something I only hear about from people OCing. Yes, I am all for people exercising their rights, but I have never heard about a person carrying concealed who has had the police called on them. No, it is not right for a person OCing and minding their business to have the police called on them, but unfortunately, that is the risk one takes if they do it. It should not be like that, but unfortunately, it is. Not using this as to advise against OC, but rather as a a disadvantage of it compared to OC.

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    Phoenixphire wrote:
    SNIP
    But the very funny thing is: God forbid, come the day that you are in a situation where you may need to defend yourself, those who say “leave it to the police” will be the one most happy to realize that you are armed, and willing to protect yourself and your fellow citizen.
    SNIP
    True freedom is a responsibility. You are responsible for your self, and, to an extent, your fellow man. You do not depend on others to provide you with protection, until such time you are no longer able to protect yourself. You stand with yourself, your family, your community, your God. You do not simply relinquish your precious liberty for a false security.

    These words ring ever true, when you understand the real meaning of freedom: “Live FREE, or die!”
    Or in the words of the great Mr. Franklin "Those who would give up liberty for a measure of safety deserve NEITHER.



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    tattedupboy wrote:
    Even though I mostly CC, I must say that I soundly agree with the advantages that OC has over CC that are presented in this article. However, in an attempt to give some balance to this debate, I would like to give a couple of reasons on why CC is better than OC.

    1. Weapon retention: While it is indeed true that stories of people having their weapons snatched while OCing is rare, they are not nonexistent. Stories of people having their weapons snatched while CCing, on the other hand, are virtually nonexistent. Think about it; how is a BG going to grab for something that he does not evenknow is there?

    2. Man with gun calls to the police: Again, this is something I only hear about from people OCing. Yes, I am all for people exercising their rights, but I have never heard about a person carrying concealed who has had the police called on them. No, it is not right for a person OCing and minding their business to have the police called on them, but unfortunately, that is the risk one takes if they do it. It should not be like that, but unfortunately, it is. Not using this as to advise against OC, but rather as a a disadvantage of it compared to OC.

    Hummm... Although I have nothing to back it up, I would think in regard to retention.

    Most guns that are stolen are guns that were locked up, hidden or taken off someone with a CPL. I find it hard to believe that people are just walking up to an openly carrying person and taking their guns from them. Its not at all unusual for someone that CC's to accidentally expose their weapon during the course of a bad day. People also have "tells" that show they are carrying. Any really observant person can pick out at least 6 out of 10 CC'ers.

    As far as "Man with a gun" calls are concerned, most of those are either really "bad guys" or CC'ers that slipped & exposed their gun. The calls on someone open carrying are almost nonexistent.


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    tattedupboy wrote:
    ...it is indeed true that stories of people having their weapons snatched while OCing is rare
    ...while CCing, on the other hand, are virtually nonexistent
    So it’s about the same then? Those two pretty much mean the same thing. Additionally, I stand a statistically greater probability of being hit by the cross town bus than I do having my gun snatched, but that doesn’t mean I’m staying on this side of the street when I want to be on that side.


    Man with gun calls to the police: Again, this is something I only hear about from people OCing. …but I have never heard about a person carrying concealed who has had the police called on them.
    You have now because I’m telling you it happens a lot. I hear MWAG calls all the time on my scanner. Of the dozens of calls a week, I would say 75% are about someone with a gun in their hand, the other 25% are either concealed carry that was exposed (or the caller otherwise knew it was there) or were indeterminate (not enough info for me to determine). I did hear a call about a group trying to get on a city trolley; the group I was just eating lunch with. The police came and straightened out the transit driver, not the group. It took some time and some educational efforts directed at the local police, the city I live in don’t seem to be responding to calls about open carry any longer. At a park recently a woman was pretty upset that I wasn’t carrying concealed and was on the phone with the police hissing that I was carrying my gun exposed. They were telling her that since no law was being broken, they weren’t sending an officer.


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    tattedupboy wrote:
    1. Weapon retention: While it is indeed true that stories of people having their weapons snatched while OCing is rare, they are not nonexistent. Stories of people having their weapons snatched while CCing, on the other hand, are virtually nonexistent. Think about it; how is a BG going to grab for something that he does not evenknow is there?
    The exception do not disprove the rule, which is in this case "gun grabs do not happen". If I gave you twice as many examples of sidearms snagging on clothing when drawn than you gave me for OC'd guns being grabbed, would you agree with me that CC is dangerous? Of course you wouldn't, and you would be right not to. I could count on one hand the number of confirmed stories of OC'd guns being taken and still have enough fingers left to display my thoughts on the matter.

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    I find more problems with concealed carry than open carry. The first issue is that it is difficult to fully conceal. It is far less alarming to the public for a person to have a gun sitting openly in a holster than to see an outline of a gun imprinted through a person's shirt. As someone who carries myself, it even makes me nervous. If I see another OCer, I immediately know their intentions are good. If I see someone who I can tell is CCing, that immediately raises eyebrows because they could be a citizen with a CCW just as much as a criminal about to pull a robbery or kill his girlfriend. It is very easy to tell that someone is CCing because if it is in their pocket, the pocket will be stuffed unusually full and will be weighted down. If it is in a holster under their shirt or an ankle one, you can still see either the shirt stick out or one of the pant legs doesn't wrinkle like the other one as the person walks. Again, you have no way of knowing if they have any business even owning a firearm when they CC. An OCer will not be a lawbreaker except in the absolute rarest of cases.

    The second issue is tactics. I would guess you are more likely to have your gun grabbed or get shot while CCing rather than OCing. If you are OCing, 99% of criminals won't bother you in the first place and if they do, your situational awareness is such that you will have noticed them before they noticed you. Additionally, if they threaten you, you can draw and fire generally in less than one second due to the easy-draw nature of OCing. If you are CCing, you are doing nothing to deter a criminal from attacking you and because your gun is hidden, you are likely to not be exhibiting as much situational awareness as an OCer would. Once the criminal decides to attack you, he will notice you reaching for something and it will take you substantially longer to pull your gun and since the criminal will see you reaching for it after they are already attacking you, there is a good chance they will use every bit of energy they have to get it away from you to keep from getting shot themselves. Having it visible in the first place avoids all of this.



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    protector84 wrote:
    I find more problems with concealed carry than open carry. The first issue is that it is difficult to fully conceal. It is far less alarming to the public for a person to have a gun sitting openly in a holster than to see an outline of a gun imprinted through a person's shirt. As someone who carries myself, it even makes me nervous. If I see another OCer, I immediately know their intentions are good. If I see someone who I can tell is CCing, that immediately raises eyebrows because they could be a citizen with a CCW just as much as a criminal about to pull a robbery or kill his girlfriend. It is very easy to tell that someone is CCing because if it is in their pocket, the pocket will be stuffed unusually full and will be weighted down. If it is in a holster under their shirt or an ankle one, you can still see either the shirt stick out or one of the pant legs doesn't wrinkle like the other one as the person walks. Again, you have no way of knowing if they have any business even owning a firearm when they CC. An OCer will not be a lawbreaker except in the absolute rarest of cases.

    The second issue is tactics. I would guess you are more likely to have your gun grabbed or get shot while CCing rather than OCing. If you are OCing, 99% of criminals won't bother you in the first place and if they do, your situational awareness is such that you will have noticed them before they noticed you. Additionally, if they threaten you, you can draw and fire generally in less than one second due to the easy-draw nature of OCing. If you are CCing, you are doing nothing to deter a criminal from attacking you and because your gun is hidden, you are likely to not be exhibiting as much situational awareness as an OCer would. Once the criminal decides to attack you, he will notice you reaching for something and it will take you substantially longer to pull your gun and since the criminal will see you reaching for it after they are already attacking you, there is a good chance they will use every bit of energy they have to get it away from you to keep from getting shot themselves. Having it visible in the first place avoids all of this.

    Well said!

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    There are an abundance of stories just on this forum about people who are peacefully OCing who get harassed or detained by the police. If it happens this much just with people on this forum, I can only imagine how much it goes on with non OCDO members. When was the last time any of you ever heard of someone having the police called on them for peacefully CCing? Probably next to never. I certainly have never seen any stories about it on any of the CC forums I belong to. And as for the argument that people's guns can be seen or detected even while CCing, most people are so unaware of their surroundings most of the time, that this is never a problem. Nine out of ten sheeple who see a bulge in the carry area are probably going to think that the bulge is a cell phone.

    Also, to the member who said that a holstered weapon in plain sight is less alarming to the public than a concealed one printing against one's shirt; you obviously have never been to my hometown. Unfortunately, gangbangers and the high level of crime here have contributed to a general fear of guns among the populace, thus making things miserable for the average law abiding gun packer. Trust me when I tell you, around here, it's best just to keep the thing hidden.

    This might come as a surprise to all of you, but despite my preference for CC, I eventally want to give OC a try, in the right place and time. Living in America's second most liberal city, (where even the county DA has been quoted as saying that the only ones who should have guns are the police) has limited my mode of carry to CC. Reading the numerous stories on this board about peaceful OCers being harassed makes me even more apprehensive about it, however, I still would like to pop my proverbial OC cherry (technically, I have done it at my job as a security officer, but that doesn't really count). I like the idea of having a choice, but only if I'm sure that one of those choices does not cause me more grief than it's worth. CC has never caused me such grief and that's why I'm such a strong advocate of it.

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    Mainsail:

    I enjoyed your dissertation on the Pros of OC and the Cons of CC. I do have a couple of very specific points I would like to make. In order to bring some creditability to what I write, some backqround is needed.

    After two tours of duty with the USMC as a sniper/tracker in Viet Nam, and college on the GI Bill, I was recruited by a federal law enforcement/Intel agency. While that agency was home for 30+ years, I quite often was assigned TDY to other agencies and entities within the federal gov't. These include, but are not limited to BN&DD(preceeded DEA), the DEA, ATF, NSA, U.S. Marh. Service, etc. At the time of retirement I was a GS-1811/14. Since retirement I have also taught at FLETC in GA.

    My education (thanks to Unc Sam) consits of two BA/BS degrees, my M.B.A, and a PhD.

    I have no strong feelings one way or the other regarding OC/CC. My opinion is that each has pros/cons and each individual must come to his own conclusion regarding any possible preferrence. It, given what is possibly at stake, is a highly personal matter! On-the-job about 90% of my carry was CC, however, I did carry openly with no badge showing about 10% of the time.

    My, I hope, constructive critcism is with the manner in which you dimiss, or discount a point that is not in keeping with your own beliefs. For example, you use OFTEN the phraise "there is no credible evidence of". Another, your use of "never". Generally like this 'I 've never seen one', or 'there never has been'. One cannot assume that just because he/she has never seen or experienced something, that cannot or does not exist! No one can make the statement "that there is no credible evidence" to counter a point without citeing supporting evidence. In any case, the word "credible" is subjective in and of itself. It is a matter of someone's opinion. Without evidence it can not be substantiated.

    So in the absence factual evidence, how do I make a difinitive conclusion? I can't! To large extent, I can use my own experience, but only if the experience greatly exceeds that of an average persons, in that specific situation. If the instance of occurance, of a certain act, is something I have personally experienced "X" times; now I can begin to incorporate statistical inferance into my attempt to present evidence that is as fact based as possible, under the circumstances. Courts have determined that I am an "expert witness" in very specific areas. How can they do that? It comes down to is the judgement of my professional peers. Many times a certification is involved. For example I am a (was) a Licensed C.P.A.. Certification was determined based upon specific factors such as, experience, exam results. If I scored in the top 1% of 10,000 people taking the same exam, am I an expert? Yes!

    Do my professional opinions qualify as being highly credible? In courts of law, yes. Can the court rely on my professional estimations/opinions as being fact? They do everyday in thousands of cases.

    That was one hell of a long way to suggest that when conducting analysis, or in arriving at a factual conclusion; "there is no credible evidence", or "Never", or "I've never seen" should be relied on with a ton of skepticism.






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    are you teaching at fletc currently? i live in brunstank :P

  23. #23
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    Unfortunately no. I was diagnosed with a life ending disease, goin to be tied up in treatment.

  24. #24
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    Alec411 wrote:
    Unfortunately no. I was diagnosed with a life ending disease, goin to be tied up in treatment.
    Im sorry to hear that, Ill be praying for you brother

  25. #25
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    I see that you just joined OCDO a few days ago, Alec411 and just wanted to welcome you aboard. I believe that you just helped to keep this thread from becoming a flame war. You are absolutely correct with everything you say. Just because CC is what is best for tattedupboy, that does not mean it is best for mainsail or anyone else on this board. It is up to each person to figure out which mode of carry is best for them while at the same time recongnizing that others have different circumstances and preferences.

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