Practical Tactics & Strategies
So, what can you do as a law enforcement officer or, as a citizen who will read this article on various forums nationwide? Here are some thoughts to ponder as well as tips to go by.
1.) Open carry is a legal right. Regardless of where personal beliefs may lie, it carries the weight of law and cannot be ignored, pushed aside, or worked around.
2.) Understand that — as with any belief that people feel strongly about — open carry is a form of political protest. While the majority will do what is asked of them without a lot of fuss, there will be extremists who are willing to be political martyrs by doing whatever it takes to push their agenda and raise awareness to their cause.
3.) Targeting open carry by finding ways to charge people with other violations and then ticketing or arresting them may backfire and could be very expensive in the long run. One of the universities in Utah apparently tried this approach and it was leaked to the press. Now we run into civil liberties violations, etc.
4.) Know the letter of the law and the interpretations of the law in various districts. Have a written document that can be referred to online or given to those parties interested in them.
5.) Even if you don’t agree with open carry, stay objective and keep your feelings to yourself. It is the behavior of the person — not the gun — that we key on. If they get annoyed and start protesting you, remember that unless they are threatening you with harm, they have a right to voice their opinion, even if they raise their voice at you.
6.) It still takes time to draw and load the firearm. It can be done in around two seconds for well trained individuals. As with any contact, watch the hands and body language.
7.) Follow good judgment. IF THERE IS PROBABLE CAUSE to treat them as an armed criminal, by all means do so. However, when you make contact with someone carrying openly without good probable cause, the strategy of “when in doubt, prone ‘em out” would not be my first choice. Keep your distance if you can, and ask questions so you can get some indicators of the mental/emotional state of the contact prior to moving in closer.
8.) From a officer safety perspective, at least you KNOW that they are carrying a weapon! That knowledge alone will keep you from becoming complacent. Think of it as an opportunity to practice your officer safety tactics.