My Experiment in Open Carry, Part Two: Maiden Voyage

My Experiment in Open Carry, Part Two: Maiden Voyage

As the title would suggest, this is the second article in a series about my experiences open carrying a handgun. If you’re just finding this, I’d suggest starting at the beginning

My Experiment in Open Carry, Part Two: Maiden Voyage

When all the plans had been made and the preparations double-checked, I found myself thinking of something my father was fond of saying:

“It’s like digging a ditch. You plan it out, survey it, organize the work schedule—and then the time comes, and you have to jump in and dig the damn ditch.”

He normally dispensed this wisdom regarding work or school projects, but it applied to my open carry experiment as well. It was time to get started.

It was a beautiful spring, as I’ve mentioned, and the tourists were already swarming like ants over our lovely beach town. Taking into account both North Carolina law and my own common sense, I elected to avoid crowds per se. Instead, my first foray into the world of open carry took me directly into the dark heart of America: a strip mall. I was living at the time in one of the less-beautiful parts of the city, where historic neighborhoods and graceful cottages gave way to cheap apartments, malls, and shopping centers.  Garbed in my best Hawaiian shirt and having tripled checked my gear, I walked out my front door and into a brave new world.

I’ll confess, faithful readers, that I had no idea what to expect—though I had committed my lawyer’s number to memory as a safeguard.  The stroll over was uneventful-unto-downright-pleasant. I took a shortcut through a stretch of woods to enjoy the wind in the pines, saw some turtles sunning themselves by a retaining pond. A peaceful few moments that stood in sharp contrast to the parking lot of a strip mall.

For whatever reason, it wasn’t an especially busy shopping day but there were still folks in abundance. I strolled through the grocery store with the other shoppers.  I noticed fairly quickly that I was fighting a few bad habits. In particular, I found myself checking the position of my weapon when someone jostled or bumped into me. I didn’t want to call attention to my sidearm unduly, so I focused on trusting my holster and avoiding overt tells.

As I moved to another store to pick up some office supplies, something took shape in the back of  my mind. Something that wasn’t quite right. I tried dismiss it as “open carry newbie paranoia”, but then it hit me. It was a touch more substantial than that:

No one noticed me.

I had been in a crowd of people for nearly half an hour: moving through them to get what I need, waiting next to them to talk to a sales associate, standing in the checkout line. In full view of dozens of people—normal suburban Americans, the minivan set—my sidearm and I went completely unnoticed.

I’m not sure what response I was expecting—and I had planned for a few different ones. This, however, had never occurred to me.

The walk home was equally pleasant and equally uneventful. The turtles cared not about my sidearm, or me, or my newly-acquired supplies.  Reflecting at home over a cup of coffee, I decided that this was either a victory for the 2nd Amendment, or a sad commentary on the situational awareness of contemporary people.

One thing was clear, however. It was time to take this experiment further afield.

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Michael Jenkins is a writer and editor based in Wilmington, North Carolina. He is a lifelong reader, gardener, shooter, and musician. You can reach him at
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Vincent Czepiel

Here in NC guns aren’t scary. If you were to do that in NY, CT or MA you’d get a much different reaction.

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Clark Kent

Now the author is a member of the ‘free gun zone’. You don’t have eyes in the back of your head so ANYONE can take a bat, hammer or rock and bop you on your noggin. Now your handgun is theirs. And don’t give me the ‘situational awareness’ crapola as an excuse. Just because you CAN do something does not mean you SHOULD.

Apollo Dezno

. . . .and someone could hit me over the head and steal my truck which could be used to kill a group of people in one swoop. . . .so what is your point. I have been open carrying since I was 23 I’m just about to hit 50 and have NEVER had anyone try to take control of my firearm. I’m very aware that does not mean that it couldn’t happen. My point is if we fear the what could happen in every situation in life we would never leave our homes.


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Russ KW5KW

I too have been open carrying and concealed carrying for 22 years now. Well, open carrying legally for 2 years since it has been legal and feel far safer with my weapon openly carried.

At gas stations and in parking lots it gives the visual indicator that you are not a sheeple who can be taken advantage of and no one walks up to me to ask for money like they used to with concealed carry when they thought I was a member of the unarmed community. I don’t like those interactions-first of all they ain’t getting my money or a ride to the homeless shelter.

Never has anyone hit me in the head with a bat. I was hit in the head with a softball in a game once and was awarded my base but I digress. Not once has anyone even attempted to touch my gun in my shoulder holster, not once. Actually, I’ve had a few people look at it with the hammer back in Condition One. People are scared of a 1911, I know I used to be when I carried an XD9. Now my XD9 will soon be a safe only gun doomed to live out it’s life in pure darkness only seeing the light when I want to get out a box of ammo.

Joe Gamer

I’ve had occasion to open carry my Chiappa rhino 60DS which is quite large, I find that peoples eyes are drawn to it once and then back to me as usual. It’s almost a matter of courtesy by all parties to just pretend it doesn’t exist?