Should open carry be legal? Of course it should. It’s useful in lots of different ways, and banning it is a restriction on the right to keep and bear arms, and that’s a bad thing.
But should you do it?
The problem is that many people assume that just the display of a gun will do the dirty work of keeping them safe from attack, because they assume that a bad guy has the same attitude towards guns that they themselves do.
But bad guys think about guns differently than you or I think about them, and that’s a problem for open carry.
To a bad guy, that “I DON’T DIAL 911, I DIAL .357” sign in your front yard isn’t a deterrent, it’s an advertisement to the bad guy that there’s something they want inside your house, namely your guns. A stolen gun is worth 2-3 times its retail value on the street*, and that makes your guns something they covet, and covet a lot.
Now pick that up and apply it to that pistol openly worn on your hip. To the bad guy, that pistol isn’t a deterrent. He’s had guns pointed at him before, and he can deal with what happens if a gun is pointed at him again. He sees your gun and he is looking at you and how much of a risk YOU are. Take the gun out of the equation: Are you acting like you know what you’re doing? What sort of indicators are you giving off that you know what you’re doing besides just strapping a gun on your hip? More than that, how are you carrying it? Is it in the cheapest generic holster you could find at Wal-Mart, or is it in a well-fitting holster made for that particular gun that has some sort of retention on it? All that talk about “Don’t look like prey and you won’t be preyed upon” extends equally to open carry people as it does to concealed carry people. Critters with claws can and do end up as lion chow.
Even if you’re completely squared away with a good holster and a good attitude, is open carry a deterrent? Maybe. What it is for certain, though, is open carry is also an opportunity. The bad guy just needs to figure out if the risk is worth the reward. No one thinks that carrying a dozen $100 bills openly on your belt would discourage crime. I will leave it to each of you to decide if carrying something worth that amount of cash would have the same effect.
Openly carrying a firearm doesn’t discourage crime anymore than carrying around a guitar encourages more music in your vicinity, and it certainly isn’t a substitute for good training. If you expect that openly displaying a firearm will cower the bad guys into submission, it’s not a question of IF you’ll be disappointed, it’s only a question of when and how.
What’s your Plan B when that happens?
* Yet another reason not to leave your gun in your car. You wouldn’t leave $1500 in cash in the glove box, don’t leave your Glock there either.