Before I got my concealed weapons permit, I open carried for two years. Every day I left the house, I had a pistol strapped to my hip in plain sight.
I carried in Wal Mart.
I carried in restaurants.
I carried at the hardware store.
I carried at many a gun store.
I carried pretty much everywhere I was legally allowed to carry, and I pretty much avoided the places that banned firearms on their premises. They exercised a legal right to ban firearms in their place of business, I exercised mine to take my business elsewhere.
And in all that time, I got asked three times about my weapon. A cop asked me in the checkout line at Wal Mart about whether I knew my 1911 was cocked and locked, and if I felt safe carrying it that way. I smiled and said yes. He shrugged and went on about his business. Another cop looked at my Glock, asked if I liked it, and then gave me some good advice on aftermarket night sights for it.
A clerk at Wal Mart asked me if I was an off-duty cop, and I said, "No, I'm a paramedic."
"They let paramedics carry guns?" she asked incredulously.
"They even let Wal Mart clerks carry guns," I smiled gently. "It's your right as a law-abiding citizen."
Hopefully she left that encounter knowing more about her 2nd Amendment rights. Maybe she didn't learn a darned thing. But at the very least, she saw a man openly carrying a weapon, and didn't see him as a threat. And when I told her I wasn't a cop, she still didn't see me as a threat.
I'll score that a win.
Apparently, there's a big kerfluffle on the 'net over open carry versus concealed carry. It's not a new debate. It's kinda like shingles – embarassing and unsightly the first time they break out, and subject to break out again painfully and without warning, as long as you draw breath. Sometimes, it's some yahoo carrying a shotgun into a public library to make a point, and sometimes it's a professional shooter and firearms guru – *cough* Rob Pincus *cough* – fanning the flames.
To illustrate that point, I'll tell the following story:
Three years ago, coming back from the shooting range at Blogorado, I hit a deer. Seeing my disabled vehicle and an opportunity for blogfodder, my gunblogger compatriots stopped to
help me clean and butcher the deer provide vehicular assistance stand around offering pointers, make fun of my skinning technique, and post pictures of my asscrack on the Internet.
By the time the local deputy arrived, there were a dozen heavily armed people standing on the side of the road in the dead of night, laughing uproariously, including one of them (me) who was, I am embarassed to say, simulating a sexual act with part of the carcass.
The deputy, who looked all of fourteen years old, took all this in, shook his head, and started his questioning with the Deer Fornicator. To his credit, he didn't breathalyze any of us, he didn't call for backup, he didn't prone me out on the pavement, he didn't even secure a single weapon from any of us. He just completed his accident report, chuckled at the crazy gunbloggers, and went on about his patrol.
Because we weren't being dicks about it, that's why.