The open carry vs. concealed carry debate is a great one. I know strong advocates for both.
For those of you just joining the fray, welcome; we're glad to have you!
The question we're going to discuss is, why do people walk around openly carrying their firearm?
I'll talk about five possible answers. Here's the first one:
They like deterrence.
This is a valid argument. But there is an obvious concern:
Can it paint an enormous target on your back?
Does open carry have to be extremely obvious?
For example, let's say there's two guys standing in line at Kwik Trip, and both are open carrying.
The first guy has a t-shirt with the words “Pro 2A” screaming across the back, tacti-cool pants, and is demoing a shoulder-rigged 1911 for everyone. He's got a nice swagger going on. Thumbs in pant loops. Spare magazines poke out of his back pockets. (Ok, just kidding.)
He's casually staring ahead, soaking in the stares.
(Basically everything you already think about open-carriers.)
The second guy is wearing regular clothes (NOT a Hawaiian shirt). He has a low-profile level 2 holster, and is standing behind the first guy, inconspicuously keeping track of who's coming through the doors. A light cover garment partially hides his firearm, and you can barely tell he's open carrying.
These are two extremes. (If it wasn't obvious, try mirroring the second guy.)
There are really no correct answers to this debate.
It depends on the person carrying, their level of proficiency, the situation they're in, and the people around them. A lot of people argue that an open-carried weapon is easier to get to, leading to a faster draw.
This is true. Shirts can get in the way, jackets are zipped up, etc. But as long as you practice drawing from concealment, and train with what you wear, that muscle memory will develop, and you'll be fast. The time deference between concealed and not will become nanoseconds, if that.
Imagine being in a situation where you seemingly pulled a gun out of thin air. You didn't dress like you had one, and gave no indication that you carried (no printing, adjusting, or suspicious clips on the belt), and, well, kablooey.
Concealed carry gives you supreme element of surprise.
On the other hand, allow me to return to the above example of the two open-carriers standing in line at Kwik Trip.
Suppose there is a third guy standing behind the other two, and he is intending on robbing the store.
(It's happened before, check it out.)
He didn't notice the guy in front of him at all, instead his eyes went to the shirt of the first guy. Then he noticed the gun he carried.
In America (except Chicago), the bad guys always have to guess if the subject is armed. If they plainly see that someone besides them have a gun, odds are high that they'll abort the mission. (Unless you're in an extreme high crime area. If they're desperate enough, seeing your firearm may ensure that you're shot first. Be smart about where you go, especially if you cannot legally conceal.)
BUT if I'm on the side of the road changing a flat tire (me, a female), I would prefer to be open carrying. There's good guys out there who would want to help, but I think the gun would discourage the bad ones from stopping. Generally speaking, women don't carry guns around unless they know how to use them.
If someone's out there looking for an easy grab, they'll see me and pass. Why? I'm not worth their lives.
(Also, I'm pretty sure guys who have hit on me at fuel pumps wouldn't have if I'd been open carrying. Just saying.)
But on a daily basis, as a concealed carrier, my goal is to blend in. You know, the Gray Man thing? Make that your priority. Don't rely on a visible firearm to protect you.
Blend in, pay attention, train hard, and carry always.
This is your best defense.
Another reason to open carry would be if you were over the age of 18 but under age 21. Depending on your state, open carry may be your only option, so carry on!
Challenge: if you've never open carried in public before, go out there and do it! You'll never experience anything so nerve-wracking. Once you've conquered open carrying, concealed carrying will be a piece of cake, guaranteed. Go ahead and run through this article first, to know what you're getting yourself into.
Comment below! Do you open carry or conceal, and why?
Check out these articles! The stats don't lie; when good guys have guns, crime rates go down.