Why I’ve Abandoned Open Carry

Why I’ve Abandoned Open Carry

If there is one single issue that divides the pro-gun crowd, it’s open carry. Those that advocate open carry argue a right not used is a right lost, and that guns shown openly in public normalize and desensitize guns to those that would otherwise not even know that they have that right.  Concealed carriers argue that wearing a gun on your hip only makes you a target and takes away a tactical advantage: the element of surprise.

For the past three-and-a-half years, I’ve been in the open carry crowd. Every time I went to get groceries, or gas, or out to dinner I had my FNP-40 on my hip.

You see, I live in Georgia, which is a pretty gun friendly state. A Georgia Weapons Carry License allows for both open and concealed carry, and with our “Guns Everywhere” law, you can take your gun pretty much anywhere except federal buildings and state buildings that have security checkpoints. Having a gun has never really been a problem.

Fourth of July fireworks in the park? I was openly packing. Picking up a book at the library? My gun was right there.

And I wasn’t alone. Almost every time I step out of the house I see someone else open carrying. At a BBQ festival last year I saw seven other people who had a gun on their hip, several of them were fathers who had young children, just like me. Sometimes I notice a concealed gun printing through someone’s shirt, and at work I see even more people with a permit in their wallet. Guns are everywhere in Georgia, and almost no one of consequence has a problem with it.

In three-and-a-half years I have never had a bad experience.  People would sometimes ask me if I was a police officer, or what I was carrying, but let me be clear: I never carried for attention or to start conversations. I carried a gun because I wanted myself and my family to get home safely. I open carried because it was easy and comfortable. Some open carriers see themselves as ambassadors of the gun community, but I never felt comfortable discussing what caliber or type of holster I had while waiting for my pizza.

And though I made sure to follow the rules of open carry (mainly dress nicely and constantly practice gun retention), recently I have never felt more vulnerable while carrying. This past month has changed a lot of things. With all of the police shootings, suddenly, being mistaken for a police officer has become a lot more dangerous. Openly carrying a gun, which before I believed was a negligible risk, could now put my life and the lives of my family in danger.

With somewhat of a heavy heart, I traded in my faithful FNP-40 and got an M&P Shield 9mm, one of the most popular compact guns on the market today.  I’d wanted one for a while, but I knew concealed carry is a whole lot more than just putting the gun on the inside of your pants rather than the outside. I had carried concealed before, but that full-size gun was a lot easier to hide in winter under my jacket at the movies. Summers here in South Georgia are hot as Hell, so the FNP wasn’t disappearing under my shirt anytime soon.

The Shield is awesome. It fits in my waistband easily, and will fit in my pocket as well. It’s made to conceal, so it does it well, but I’m still getting used to wearing baggier clothes. I’m also still adapting to this new gun: its trigger, how I draw, and most importantly remembering to disengage the safety. I’ve never had to worry about printing before, and it’s hard not to constantly readjust my shirt in public.

Yeah, I’ll take fussing about my shirt over the apprehension some thug will gun me down any day of the week.

I still believe that open carry of sidearms has a place in society, and I don’t fault any gun owners from doing so. We all have to make our own choices. We are all just trying to get home safely.

When I go to grocery shopping, I still know that my gun is there. The only change is that now no one else does. I’m okay with that.

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  • Kenneth Aaron

    I have come to the same conclusion, when I saw people act differently. I don;t wanna make people nervous.

  • Ron

    Glad you got smart, Mike. Good decision to not open carry. You are simply a target. I have known this, myself, for a long time, so I have never open carried. Good way to get killed. Each to his own on this issue. It is a personal decision, not to be taken lightly.

  • Vanns40

    So, all the “oh, good decision — good way to get killed” folks finally feel they’ve been vindicated for “feelings” that have no basis in fact. You MIGHT be mistaken for a police officer. Hell, you MIGHT be mistaken for a bank robber too! There are outliers for everything but that aside, there are absolutely zero facts to back up all the naysayers on this and every other forum.

    If you don’t want to open carry that’s fine, don’t, but please, stop making up excuses and unverifiable “facts”.

  • 2 Swords Protection

    I understand your reasons and I do still sometimes carry concealed. However, most days I do carry openly. Texas recently changed its laws to allow that. As an instructor for License to Carry in Texas, I do feel a bit of an “ambassador” in the sense that I want people in my community to get used to the idea that having a citizen carry a gun in public is not a bad thing. And people actually seem to appreciate it. I went to the pharmacy the other day and a lady walked up to me and said, “I’m one of those people who is glad to see you wearing a gun.” I smiled and told her that I was glad that she was glad. Several times during dinner, someone would come up and thank me for wearing openly because they had wondered whether they could do that and it was an encouragement to them. Of course, you do have the occasional humorous situation. A restaurant manager came to my table to see how our party was enjoying our meal. Then he saw my Sig Sauer P220 and said, “I REALLY hope you are not unsatisfied in any way.” I laughed and complimented the great service and food.

    The real reason that I open carry is that it is a more comfortable way to carry in Texas heat. About the only time I conceal carry is if I am going to a movie theater or a hospital that doesn’t have the required 30.06 and 30.07 signs to prevent my carrying there. Also, I can draw my gun faster if I don’t have to first clear a garment out of the way. So it is for safety reasons. That 1-2 seconds saved could mean the difference between life and death.

    Only a few people even notice my pistol. Most people are too busy looking at their cell phones to be aware of potential dangers around them. The truth is that they are safer when I am nearby.

    While I understand your reasons for going to conceal carry, I do want to dispel one notion of your article. You do NOT need to go to a smaller gun to conceal. It is the width of the gun — not the length — that makes it difficult to conceal. When I teach class, I sometimes conceal as many as 9-10 firearms and pull them out while I am teaching. Everyone is amazed at the fact that they never noticed any of them. And most of the firearms are 4″ barrels. One is a 5″ Springfield XD .45 with a match-grade barrel. I’m fond of Crossbreed holsters (Alien Gear makes a fair knock-off of the Crossbreed). Actually, I have more holsters than Imelda Marcos had shoes. The point is that with the right holster, you can conceal a large firearm without anyone noticing. So don’t downsize to conceal carry. The need to have a small gun to conceal is a myth. I bought into that myth when I first started carrying. My first two pistols were a sub-compact 3.5″ Springfield XD and a S&W 642 revolver. Both good guns. But I never carry either one now. A longer barrel increases accuracy and a bigger gun also has higher capacity. By the way, if you take a Combat Focus Shooting class, you’ll find out that they recommend the Crossbreed holster, and either a Springfield XD or a S&W M&P in 9mm. Striker-fired pistols are better than a pistol with a hammer when it comes to concealment (no snagging on clothing).

    But most importantly, whether you carry openly or concealed, just don’t leave the house without your gun. It is part of your clothing — part of getting dressed. You don’t take the jack out of the car before you drive it. You don’t want to change a tire on the side of the road, but you might have an emergency that requires you to do that. In the same way, I don’t leave home without a gun just because I think that I won’t have any emergencies that day. Emergencies have a way of not announcing themselves until it is too late. And with a wife and 6 children still at home, I can’t afford to be without my emergency equipment.

  • Don Laessig

    OK, my 2 cents worth. One only has to look around the entire globe, to see the Hatred being spewed. with the likes of Isis and all of the racial tension here in the good ol’ US of A. To me it looks like something is causing all of this. Some might call me paranoid, or a conspiracist. However, I believe that there definitely is something to this. So, as for me and mine, we have chosen to conceal, and not have a bullseye printed on our backs. So, Til a calmer society reigns, it looks like we all have to be in condition Yellow, and ready at all times. Stay safe and shoot straight. Best regards…Don….oh yeah, one other thing….Black guns Matter!!

    • firelooker

      I share your ideas that someone or something is behind all this violence. I tend to think the Liberals are behind some of these crimes in order to push their anti gun agenda. I carry my Ruger P345 IWB in a holster that I designed that holds it at the cant I’m comfortable with.

  • Bdpenn

    So are you saying that policeman should start wearing civilian clothing, drive in unmarked cars and go concealed as well? Sure, you have a valid point and I respect your decision, but, I can’t help but feel a sense of surrender by your reasoning.
    I’d like to apologize for my opinion but I can’t. Your a coward. Why do you bother to carry in the first place?
    Policemen are being assassinated and your worried that you might be mistaken for one. You said that you carry to insure that you and your loved ones get home at the end of the day. Your reasoning suggests that you never leave your home in the first place. Man you could of come up with a number of reasons not to open carry but to be mistaken for a policeman is just sad.
    Since you brought it up, what are your thoughts on the larger problem.
    Policemen being ambushed and murdered on the streets they serve to protect.
    Man you just rubbed me in a very wrong way.

    • Alan Lynn

      Disagreeing with your opinion does not make someone a coward. A police officer is hired, trained and given special status to openly wear a uniform, including a an openly carried gun. If you, when openly carrying, can with a single call mobilize an army to assist you and when the laws empower and require you to act, even when against your best interest then it would be equal to a uniformed police officer.

      The important thing is that you are a responsible trained person. That you carry all the time and everywhere that you legally are able to do so. Concealed does not make you a coward. So open or concealed if you are aware and trained you are a part of the solution, who knows you may some day save a cop’s life.

      Support carrying a weapon or two and support our thin blue line.

      • Bdpenn

        I agree with everything you say here.

        • Alan Lynn

          Little known fact, in the old West, and East for that matter, a concealed weapon was a scoundrels weapon and was often banned. When I wore open carry, even in uniform I got mainly two reactions, fear and appraisal.

          I have practically cleared a convenience store just by walking in the door. I have also been stalked by vermin in sneakers seeing if they could take me down.

          Now I carry concealed because I don’t need the drama. The hoplophobes see an open carrier as a rabid dog. A right not exercised is lost but we make no friends by doing so.

  • Phillip

    Have you seen the video of the thug that runs up to a guy and steals his pistol right out of his holster standing in line a Mc D’s waiting for his Big Mac? What if that same thug , who may be a gangbanger, uses that pistol in a driveby and kills a little kid in the process ? No thanks, I’ll stay concealed !

  • L.L. Smith

    I want the criminal to hear my gun before he sees it.

  • Cobrawing

    Well, after reading the other responses it is clear this is a sensitive issue within all of us in the firearms world. I think the author (Mike Doran) was honestly expressing how he felt. Clearly, some take issue with his reasoning and others side with his decision. As for me, well I’m just happy that ALL of us are simply carrying . . . period. We’re ALL on the same side and let’s stand by one another regardless of the controversy on this issue or others. Oh, one last thing . . . VOTE TRUMP!

  • ETG

    I worked in Law Enforcement for over 25 years, and the only time I carried openly was when I was in uniform. Off duty or on plain clothes assignments I always concealed. I don’t have an issue with anyone who does carry openly, and to this day nobody has ever been able to adequately explain to me why a citizen needs a “permit” or “license” to exercise their rights.

    Be that as it may, my feeling, which is supported by the comments here as well as personal observation, is that open carry invites attention that you would otherwise not receive; be that positive as an ambassador of the second amendment, or negative as a target of scrutiny, or worse the target of criminals. I don’t think the criminal aspect has really been an issue, as a criminal sees the gun then seeks a weaker target, much like a burglar would much rather choose a house without an alarm as opposed to one with, but it is an argument that some people use.

    What I do find sad is that our society has disintegrated to the point that someone chooses to carry concealed, not because the gun will make people uncomfortable, not because people will mistake him for a criminal, not because people will question why he is carrying, but specifically so that he will not be mistaken for a police officer, as he feels that will make him a target.

    I no longer work in law enforcement, but I worry about the guys still on the job, and certainly don’t envy the new guys just starting out. The world has changed, and not for the better.

    • wampdog29

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  • Desert Rat 121

    Arizona is also a gun “friendly” state and when I first moved here there were quite a few guys who practiced open carry. I have been here 30 years now, and the number of men who open carry has dropped considerably. Conversely, the number of CCW permits issued state-wide has skyrocketed. Could be that is the trend now days.

    • firelooker

      Glad we live in AZ & not some of those other places esp Californiastan. I’ve lived here for over forty years & can remember getting odd looks carrying openly b4 AZ decided we didn’t no stinkin’ license to CCW.

      • Desert Rat 121

        In Arizona, a person over age 21 may legally carry a concealed firearm or deadly weapon without a permit within the state, except for certain prohibited locations, and must disclose the fact to a law enforcement officer if questioned.

        • firelooker

          This I know, I’ve never had a LEO ask me if I was carrying.

          • Desert Rat 121

            Me neither; if I ever am asked, I hope the LEO asks me “What are you afraid of?” So I can reply, “As long as I’m carrying, I’m not afraid of anything; that’s the idea.”

          • firelooker

            That would be a good reply. From what I’ve heard most of the time the LEO just asks what you’re carrying. I would tell them I’m afraid of not being able to protect my family or myself.

  • Bill

    One thing good about open carry. Somebody sees your gun it will not get you in trouble.

    • Dr. Frankenstein

      Running gag around here:
      “911, what’s your emergency?”
      “Oh my God, there’s a man with a gun in the grocery store”
      “What’s he doing?”
      “He is looking at the tomatoes….”
      “Sorry Ma’am, that is perfectly legal.”

      • firelooker

        Gotta watch those tomatoes.

  • Charley C.

    I have carried concealed for years ,and I have seen people carrie openly,I feel it’s your right to carrie the way you feel is right for you.But I also know people who have had problems with open carrie. one of my friends was accosted,in a store buy a kid trying to steal his weapon,and pulled his own gun to try and get away with it. when the cop asked the kid why he would do something so stupid he said,it looked like an EZ score. lets face it people are stupid. Best of luck to all who open carrie. and God Bless ,and Stay alert,there are a lot of dumb asses out there.

    • ralph

      “…buy a kid…”
      Didn’t know they were for sale now. THought you had to make ’em.

  • msg51

    Like you said, there are a lot of reasons people carry the way they do. I prefer to carry concealed. With styles being what they are today, I can carry IWB or OWB by simply Wearing a loose fitting shirt tail out. This combo allows me to carry where it is not desired, and no one is the wiser. The one problem I have is with the guys who think concealed makes you a coward or what ever ( such as one posted here). When some of these people post they sound like they want to be tough guys. Open carry does not make you tough and to have that attitude makes you stupid. The carry method is not important. The fact that you carry is what is important.

    There is nothing wrong with carrying a smaller gun. Some of them can hold as many or more rounds as a bigger gun, and barrel length is not a factor in close quarter situations. You most likely will not have the time to aim. I just upgraded my Shield mags. from 8 to 9 rounds + 1. That gives me as many or more than some larger and heavier guns.

    I carry to protect me and mine, anything else is at my discretion. I have one rule that I follow, I will be held responsible for all rounds I send down range. I don’t want be responsible for a wayward round, or someone jumping in the path of a round meant for a bad guy.

  • firelooker

    I figure it’s a personal decision how you carry & I don’t fault anyone for their decision.

  • Johnny Steele

    People who open carry as a means of earning a living almost always wear a bullet proof vest. I figure they’re professionals and feel the need for the extra protection. I can’t afford body armor so I’ll hide my gun under my shirt and avoid all persons displaying a weapon. My safety first.

  • eugene

    I live in a state where open carry is legal without a permit. I never do because I do not want to have the conversation and it scares the muggles. I am not fond of IWB. My solution is a G43 in a Bladetech OWB. It does disappear under a t-shirt. On days when I will be wearing a jacket or overshirt I carry either a Beretta 92A1 in a Wilson Combat OWB or a Walther PPQ in a Bladetech OWB. All of the above work for me and are unnoticeable. Trust in God but brand your calves.

    • Mikial

      Great Harry Potter reference and agree completely.It’s legal to open carry here without a permit, but I just don’t do it.

  • crockett

    Hard to carry concealed down South like you said , it gets smoldering hot with the humidity . Have to wear a short sleeved button up with the tails out but still looks bulky .

    • Mikial

      Understand what you’re saying, but have to respectfully disagree. I currently live in Virginia where it was 105 and 80% humidity two days ago, and I carried concealed with no more of a problem than when its 85. I hear people say they would rather carry around how they like to dress than dress around how they carry. That frankly makes no sense to me. I would much rather adjust my wardrobe to carry a reliable and powerful gun with plenty of capacity, than regress to carrying a pocket pistol because I want to wear tight shorts and a wife beater.

  • Jim

    I live in Kansas and we have a very supportive legislative system open and conceal is aloud. Since the law was passed I really don’t see anyone open carry, I do not, nor will I open carry. The idea of carrying a weapon in the open just doesn’t make sense to me. To me it paints a target on your back, and if you are around folks that do not share the love of guns as I do it makes them uncomfortable and the last thing I want to do is make more issues for gun lovers.

    When your weapon is not concealed and if you are in a situation were you may need to pull your gun, the chances are you will never get the chance as you will be the first to be dropped by the bad guys. In my mind if you truly want to make a difference and potently save your family, friends, strangers, or yourself advertising you can fight back lessens that possibility of being able to act.
    The chances of coming out of a bad situation is when you have the upper hand.
    Surprise is always your best friend!!!

    • ralph

      “… conceal is aloud. …”
      Rather conceal silently, thank u.

  • redderek

    I CC with the M&P as well. However, I do carry with a round in the chamber and the safety off. Having to deal with the safety is just one more fine motor movement that can delay ones response in a situation.

    There was a great video in the last year where there was a training for citizens in Texas. It put several carry people through an active shooter situation, though using paint guns. It showed how they reacted differently and how well they shot. It was quite interesting. I got several big points out of it.
    1. Practice. It is a shame to carry and not be able to hit your target.
    2. Do not practice emptying out the magazine. There may be a second shooter and it would be nice to have more ammo. Likewise, reload quickly if you run out.
    3. If the opportunity arises, you want to get into a dark concealed position to get the best advantage.
    4. Do not open carry; it make you a threat to the shooter. One scenario the shooter commented that he saw the gun and that was the first target to shoot.
    5. The shooter may be wearing a vest, so I practice two torso, one head.

  • Anthony

    I too have long been opposed to open carry as it signals to everyone that you are indeed armed, thus the potential 1st target in a situation where the badguy is scoping out a scene to commit a crime. However, I see that many in the concealed carry community believe that if their firearm is accidentally revealed they might be protected if they are in a open carry community…might…and there is the rub. Might doesn’t mean Will, and therefore, the concealed carry individual may still find themselves in legal jeopardy if the holstered concealed carry gun is seen by another person who wants to make a state case out of this. Brandishing? We know better. We are trying our best to keep concealed, and dread the appearance that we were doing otherwise. We don’t necessarily need an open carry law to protect the concealed carry individual from legal troubles just because the shirt or jacket rose up, or someone identified a weapon due to printing and called 9-1-1 simply because they hate firearms. We just need better concealed carry laws.

  • paulhouse

    I’m an unassuming looking fat guy with a bad limp and a cane. At 38 years old I have carried a gun for over 10 years. Here in NW Indiana I have been accosted by law enforcement 3 of the 7 times I openly carried my firearm. Twice by Hobart PD. And once by Lake County Sheriff’s Dept. I don’t play with it, talk about It or even touch It I have carried so long! “It” I know funny ha…. After my challenges and spouting off and telling them to arrest me or piss off! I know my rights! It always ends with my leaving with no charges and my gun and ammo in hand. But it really hurts deep inside to be treated this way when I feel like I’m someone who you want to carry a gun! The people around me even the Leo’s are safer because of it… They make it harder and harder every day to be respectful and compassionate for the challenges they face… I always remind them of the oath they took and the only laws being broke are them pissing on my 2nd amendment. I have never broken a law or hurt anyone but. Until this harassment stops I can’t deal with all the Robocop jerks. I support law enforcement and have officers in my immediate family and can’t understand why I have received the treatment I have? Somebody else’s complaining does not diminish my Right! I am always lied to about why I’m stopped. I’m breaking the rules and you’re letting me go out of pure charity? BullShit! Until Barney Fife and the rest of Mayburry get the memo, it is next to impossible for me to open carry! Lucky for me with my big belly and leaning limp, I could conceal my 300 BLK SBR without printing if I wanted to! I just don’t understand why, and am left sickened by the treatment I have received! I know I have cried long enough! I’m just left baffled and a bit hurt!

    • ralph

      “…The people around me even the Leo’s are safer because of it… ..”
      Sure about that? Ever miss a target? Just askin’…

  • Jimmy Taylor

    I am glad for this kind of discussion. I think you should carry as you feel fit, I’m just glad that people exercise the right to carry because the Second Amendment allows us to. Educate your neighbors, your friends and family about carrying. More guns in the hands of law abiding citizens will create less crime.

  • Ronald Vickery

    I also live in Georgia. Like the author, I also open carried for years. And still, like the author, I now conceal carry because of the current political/social climate. Open carry is convenient, but I no longer feel comfortable with my sidearm visible in public.

  • Bill Jeffs

    I’m an advocate for both open carry and concealed. I think open carry is honest, out in the open, with nothing to hide….and convenient, not to mention all the other reasons I’ve heard. I still carry concealed, depending on my mood and where I’m going.

    What does bother me about concealed carry, especially in a state that doesn’t advocate open carry is the responsibility the state puts on the CCW holder to ensure no one knows he is armed. Those states even go to the point of criminalizing the CCW holder if someone feels threatened knowing someone is armed. In some states, if someone can even see the outline of a gun, that is grounds for criminal charges…and denying the permit holder his right to self-defense.

  • Who would ever think that being mistaken for LEO would put one in danger. Thanks, Obama. We got our change when you targeted LEO, from Day 1, and played the race card. It will take quite some time to heal, while the families of dead LEO may never.

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