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A Bit of Advice
Before you read on, there is one thing you should know: your attitude determines 99% of the response you will get from those who see you carrying a handgun. Always be mindful of your attitude while you are carrying. If people perceive you to be nervous or angry or immature or arrogant, you are probably going to get a negative response (which means you could get kicked out of wherever you are, or someone could freak out and call the police). Please carry yourself in a confident and friendly manner—and always be aware of your surroundings. If you don't make a big deal of the fact that you are carrying a weapon with you, then people will probably think nothing of it. The last thing you want to do is make gun owners look bad and give the anti-gun liberals an excuse to take away more of our rights. I'll get off my soap box now; read on!
Why Open Carry?
Deterrence- One of the best reasons to open carry is that it is a valuable means of deterrence. A majority of criminals do not wish to die and are far more likely to avoid citizens who are clearly armed. The negative side of carrying a concealed weapon is that you present yourself as being unarmed; and if a criminal has a choice between attacking an individual who is obviously armed and an individual who may or may not be armed, I think their choice is going to be pretty straight forward. I'd choose to open carry and not leave a criminal to guess whether or not I will offer resistance. Ease of Access- Another simple reason to open carry is that it is quicker and easier to draw from an unconcealed holster than from a concealed position. Comfort- Open carry is typically more comfortable than concealed carrying, and it allows you to easily carry while only wearing a t-shirt and shorts. Cost- A CHP course can cost around $125, and application for a CHP costs $100. $125 + $100 = $225. That's not exactly pocket change for your average Joe. Is it worth it? Perhaps; but it's still a factor to consider. Advocacy- One more reason to open carry is to make a statement to the public that you recognize your Second Amendment right and are willing to exercise it without fear. Besides, it gives you an opportunity to demonstrate that not everyone who carries a gun is a criminal or a lunatic. The more people who open carry, the more normal it will be come; and ultimately, we would like to keep our right, which would be easier if the general public wasn't so fearful of guns. In fact, this is one of the tactics used by those who are anti-gun: they seek to incite fear of firearms, which causes people to be more open to banning them. This seems like a fitting point to mention that every time you open carry you are on display for everyone around you to see. Know your rights and stand up for them, but be a law-abiding citizen who is always respectful and polite. We are not going to win anyone to our cause by being rude. Know what to say to people who ask you why you are carrying (here are some ideas—just be discerning and realize that some of these one-liners could only make things worse). Why Not?- Perhaps you have a good reason to not open carry; maybe you spend most of your time at work, where your boss wouldn't approve of your openly carrying a handgun; or maybe you don't feel like you have proper retention training and worry that someone would steal your gun. Now, if you find that your boss doesn't want you open carrying at work, I'd say you probably should grin and bear it; but if you are worried about a lack of retention training, practice and get trained! There are many great ideas for how to retain your weapon at all times (i.e. some combination of using a retention holster, resting your forearm on the top of the gun if people are close, carrying a small knife in your weak-side pocket and knowing how to use it, etc.). And if you are a Christian who is mindful of his testimony (as I am), simply explaining your reasons for carrying in a friendly, respectful manner will go a long way. Finally, if you don't have a good reason not to open carry, then keep in mind that “a right unexercised is a right lost.” If people do not open carry because they are afraid of how the public (or government) will view them, then OC will become illegal de facto.
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