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Open Carry Vs Concealed Carry

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.

Farmgirl and Caleb both posted (agreeing) on the subject: just carry your gun in whatever way you choose, and don't be a dick about it.

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.

Comments - Add Yours

  • Nick

    As I said on the twitter machine, I’d consider you more of a threat when on duty.

    How else can you (generally) walk into anyone’s home, poke, prod and inject them, and not get questioned?

    • Ambulance_Driver

      Because 99.9% of the time, the person in question invited me into their home and agreed to the poking, prodding and injecting. It’s called informed consent.

      • shooter

         Oh, you’re referring to your work as a medic.  For a second there, I thought you were talking about your love life!

  • Kimberly Williams

    Love it!  I used to live in WV (open carry state), and now in Texas (concealed with permit only), and it still amazes me the number of people who think that citizens such as myself who have gone through the classwork, the fingerprinting, and the federal background checks are the ones to worry about.  I was pulled over very early one morning by an officer as my hubby and I were leaving to go on vacation.  I abided by the law in Texas and as I gave her my driver’s license I also handed her my CHL.  Her only questions were, “Where is your gun right now?”  I told her that I had one in my purse, one in my suitcase in the back, and my hubby was also carrying his with his CHL.  She said, “OK”, went on to write me a warning, then thanked me for letting her know and for carrying responsibly.  I think you hit the nail on the head…we weren’t being zealots and she did not feel threatened by the fact that we had our guns with (and on) us. 

    • Too Old To Work

      I was surprised when I found out that open carry wasn’t allowed in Texas. All this time I thought it was mandatory. Watched too many John Wayne movies I guess.

      That aside, while I’m not personally a big fan of open carry, I can’t think of one reason why people who want to shouldn’t be able to.

      • Mulligan

         you can open carry in Texas if you are on your own dirt. Which is kind of handy if you have a big ranch and is kind of useless if you live in an apartment in the city.

    • Ambulance_Driver

      Every cop I’ve dealt with in Texas or Louisiana visibly relaxed when I handed them my CHL. I think they view it as a good citizenship card.

  • BTC_Brin

    “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.”

    I don’t buy it.

    By that logic, a man who is minding his own business while openly carrying as he walks to an auto parts store in Philadelphia has no reason to fear getting stopped AT GUNPOINT by the PPD. Except that exact same eventuality occurred to Mark Fiorino last spring.

    Now, I can certainly agree that, as a citizen, not being a dick is generally the right choice, it generally only has the result you mention if you run into a true Peace Officer, or if you have overwhelming numerical superiority. The former is a possibility in your above post, the second is a certainty. Had you been alone, and had you run into a pair of real jackbooters, things could have gone VERY differently.

    I’m not saying that being a dick is the right move; it generally isn’t. However, refraining from being a dick won’t keep ignorant jackbooters from being dicks themselves, and the above article totally ignores this.

    • Ambulance_Driver

      I don’t mean to suggest that being friendly makes you immune to police harassment. I’m merely saying it makes it less likely than being a dick.
      I also meant we shouldn’t be dicks to *each other* over the issue.

    • Ambulance_Driver

      And whether you buy it or not, it happened.

      Of course, rural Colorado is undoubtedly a lot more gun friendly than Philly.

  • Ted

    “Don’t be a dick about it” is generally good advice, no matter how you interpret the Second Amendment.

  • MSgt B

    I sure hope someone got video of you fornicating on a deer carcass.


  • Thehappymedic

    ” don’t be a dick about it.” is pretty much my new mantra on everything.

  • shovelDriver

    So you weren’t “having an attitude”.  Apparently, neither was the cop, because I’m sure if he had demanded, at gunpoint, that you all disarm and prone yourselfs out, your conclusion may have been different.  Most other stories show that the cops’ attitude drives the demeanor of such encounters.

  • Jedi Master Ivyan

    The only time open-carry made me nervous was when I saw some teenage boy carrying at the mall.  It was the fact that to him, it was a fashion statement.  He was doing it to look bad***.   But I did find great amusement in the fact that he was wearing his shoulder holster the wrong way.

  • Speakertweaker

    …simulating a sexual act with part of the carcass.

    I just lost my shit.  Good thing I’m alone in the office today.  That’s funny as hell!

    Because we weren’t being dicks about it, that’s why.

    You know, you really do catch more flies with honey.  Does it make you immune?  No, but I’ve been surprised before.  I have long hair on my head and my face, I’m pierced in places you can see and places you can’t, and I’ve been given warning tickets by one of the most notorious of ticket-giving departments in or near San Antonio, TX.

    Not being a dick is almost always a good idea, ‘specially when badges are present.

  • Christopher Matthews

    Texas, being the cowboy state it is, surprisingly has all kinds of rules on where you can’t carry, including hospitals.  Nevada, on the other hand, allows it everywhere except schools (colleges only with written permission from the head administrator, which they NEVER give), and certain government buildings.  Open carry is allowed, and concealed with permit.  I tend to think of these places where we aren’t allowed to carry and no LEO’s are constantly present as free-range victim zones.  I’m still amazed at those who know I carry saying, “You’re going to wear that THERE? Are you expecting trouble?”, to which I reply, “Yes, I am going to wear that THERE, and no, if I were expecting trouble, I’d bring the shotgun too and my friend, the sniper.”  Rural Colorado sounds like my experience in Nevada, minus Clark County.  Expect that everyone is carrying, but only a few do so openly, and no one really pays much attention anyway, except casino security.

    I’ve seen the constant banter about the open vs. concealed debate on USA Carry’s website.  Arguements can be very convincing both for and against each side, but in the end, the point is moot as long as the law is followed.

    On a side note: I sure hope that the Senate passes the reciprocity act for CCW/CHL soon.

    • Kevin Craig

      “Texas, being the cowboy state it is, surprisingly has all kinds of rules on where you can’t carry, including hospitals.”

      Hospital carry hasn’t been illegal in Texas since 1998, unless they post a valid 30.06 notice (or if it’s otherwise a prohibited place, such as a college building).

  • Matthew T. Saucedo

    Ass crack? Simulated what? Pics or it didn’t happen!

  • Joe

    Good advice for life, not just open carry.

  • emtdan

    I’m in the process of getting my CCW right now

  • Kiwi ambo

    ok, i may be a hick from small town new zealand, but something confuses me. i know that you have a constitutional right, but why would you need to carry a firearm as an EMT? surely you can get police support for jobs that are likely to turn dangerous.

    • Medic-j

      You don’t carry while on duty.

    • Jake

      He’s not carrying as an EMT. He’s carrying as a civilian.

  • HybridMedic

    I recently took the Tennessee gun permit class and the guy that taught the class offered an interesting opinion of open vs concealed carry. He said “if you are open carrying, and a bad guy is lying in wait for you and he sees your weapon, is he going to give yo a chance to draw, or just shoot you outright?”

    • Ambulance_Driver

      Or us he just going to walk away, and seek easier prey?

      • Yuuzhan

        I would rather not roll the dice. There are plenty of people that just shoot people on sight. Its good to have an advantage of surprise.

        • HSR47

          Other than cases where cops were used a gun stores (like the Boston marathon bombers, and the jackwagon yesterday at the DC Naval Yard), how many published incidents can you cite where a private citizen was attacked in such a manner?

          By my figuring, the number of private citizens who carry openly on a regular basis is equal to or greater than the number of sworn police officers in this country. Given this, it is logical to assume that such attacks on private citizens would be fairly common.

          Still, I’ve never seen evidence that such an attack has actually taken place. Part of this can perhaps be explained by the fact that uniformed personnel are more obvious targets, but if this were truly a serious risk I would expect there to have been published cases of it actually happening.

          • Ambulance_Driver

            I’m all for open carry as a way to normalize gun ownership, and make the general populace see us as reasonable people.
            I am NOT in favor of open carry as a political statement or trolling for a confrontation. Carrying your AR15 into Starbucks may be legal, but it’s a douchebag move, and a counterproductive one, as we’ve just learned.

  • Abigail M

    In my family, we have more guns that some small countries. Those of us that have our own (I’m still trying to find the gun that makes me happiest), all have CCP, though that doesn’t mean they always do. We’ve had no issues with anyone stopping us. I think whatever makes you the most comfortable while wearing it is what you should do!