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Mar 19 2008

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OPEN CARRY VS. CONCEALED CARRY
Revision 1.20

Written By: Garry E. Harvey
Contributing Editors: OpenCarry.org Members

The purpose of this paper is to examine the two competing points ofview within the handgun carry community and consider each one for itsmerits, both good and bad, from a common sense and logical point ofview.

INTRODUCTION
“AN ARMED SOCIETY IS A POLITE SOCIETY”

Weapons and firearms in particular have been personified by many inrecent decades as being evil and able to impart that evil into anyonewho chooses to wield the weapon. In the anti-gun community the onlyones who appear to be immune from the gun’s evil are those acting underthe authority of government. It has been engrained into the minds ofmillions that ordinary citizens cannot and should not be trusted withthe ability to use firearms for protection much less carry them intothe public. Anyone who advocates such action is labeled evil,dangerous, or a vigilante. This line of thinking appears to be slowingeroding away as evidenced by the fall of the once prominent andpowerful anti-gun lobby. The number of people choosing to carry aweapon for self protection has been growing steadily since the firstlaws were enacted. The cry of anarchy and blood running in the streetsby the anti-gun lobby has proven false. As this has become more andmore apparent, no thinks to the main stream media, the average citizenis beginning to change their minds over the issue. Criminals in anarmed society know that their actions may garner them instant peril ofdeath should they choose the wrong victim. That old saying still provesto be as true as it ever was, “An armed society is a polite society.”

Carrying a pistol has been a part of my daily routine for going on fouryears. During that time I’ve taken almost every opportunity to speakwith people from each end of the spectrum regarding the issue. Before Iever received my permit I remember part of a conversation I had with aparty advocate for the Al Gore campaign in early 2000. Among the issuesI posed to her during our conversation was that of Mr. Gore’s supportof gun control measures. She scoffed at me and snobbishly remarked thatwe didn’t live in the Wild West. At the time I was not as well versedin the issue as I am now and really had no response although with herstatus I would have had more luck convincing a fence post otherwise.Over the next seven years I made it a point to broach the topic everychance I had with whoever I thought might have an interesting opinionon the matter. I researched the writing of the founding fathers andtheir predecessors with fervor. I studied the history of gun-control inAmerica from the civil war forward, the rise of anti-gun organizationsand those pro-gun organizations who rose in opposition to defend theconstitution. Having made my decision as to which side I was on I wassurprised at the sometimes hateful opposition to carrying a firearmopenly by members of the pro-gun rights community. It is for thisreason I have undertaken to write this for everyone within thatcommunity. Before I delve into specifics let me state firstly that howone chooses to carry their weapon is their own choice and should not besubjected to harassment from others who disagree with that choice. Mypurpose is not to hold one method above the other but rather detail thebenefits of both and leave it to the reader to decide for his orherself which they prefer.

CONCEALED CARRY
THE ELEMENT OF SURPRISE

The most prominent reason given by proponents of carrying concealed isthe element of surprise. There are many hypothetical situations whichhave been posed to prove this point but they all boil down to theCRIMINAL not being aware of the ARMED CITIZEN as anymore of a threatthan the UNARMED CITIZEN. The result is that the ARMED CITIZEN mayreserve the option to use deadly force until the situation is favorableor not, should the threat cease.

What are the negatives associated with this logic and why is notperfect in all situations? Well, one must first assume they will not bethe sole primary target but rather a third party or in a group setting.The element of surprise is quickly rendered null once you are at knifeor gunpoint with nothing to distract your attacker. Assuming theattacker becomes distracted sufficiently enough to attempt a weapondraw the victim must consider the risk and added time needed to drawfrom a concealed location. If all factors are not in the victims favorthen the attacker is likely to win as his weapon was already in theready position.

Another reason given for favoring concealed carry is the fear orperceived risk of the weapon being taken by the CRIMINAL. In one of twoversions the CRIMINAL takes the weapon after it has been drawn from theholster and pointed at him. This is commonly shown in movies where theCRIMINAL takes the gun as the ARMED CITIZEN is too afraid to shoot.Unless the attacker is suicidal or the firearm is incapable of firingfor some reason, expect to see this situation stay in the movies. Thesecond of the two concerns the CRIMINAL successfully taking the weaponfrom the holster before the ARMED CITIZEN can react. This has happenedto police officers and so it could happen to the ARMED CITIZEN as wellbut consider this following difference. In all but a minority of cases,the CRIMINAL took the officer’s weapon once being confronted by theofficer or while being placed under arrest. The act was one ofdesperation as the reward of escape outweighed the risk of taking theweapon from the officer. Assuming the weapon is properly holstered in aprofessional manner, the ARMED CITIZEN would only pose a threat to theCRIMINAL within a self-defense situation; the risk to the CRIMINALwould be overwhelming in attempting to steal the weapon as this actwould trigger the self defense reaction from the ARMED CITIZEN.

Another less logical reason for not carrying openly is that one doesnot want to appear to be “looking for trouble.” This line of thoughtseems to have evolved from the anti-gun accusation that everyone whocarries a weapon is looking for a fight. The illogical hypotheticalgiven for example tends to go as follows. The CRIMINAL sees the ARMEDCITIZEN carrying a weapon and for no logical reason chooses to confrontthe ARMED CITIZEN and instigate a fight which inevitably ends with theCRIMINAL winning. Upon close scrutiny the reason and the hypotheticalposed do not match up. First, why would the CRIMINAL want to fight anarmed opponent for no reason? The CRIMINAL would have to lack any kindof judgment, have no fear of death and believe he is the fastestshooter on earth, not to mention invincible to bullets. Finally, howexactly is the ARMED CITIZEN the one “looking for trouble” when theCRIMINAL prompted the confrontation? Was it not the CRIMINAL “lookingfor trouble” by targeting the ARMED CITIZEN and pushing him into a selfdefense situation? This line of thinking is similar to accusing a rapevictim of wanting to be raped because she was supposedly dressedprovocatively.

Although there are other reasons I’ve been given for carrying concealedthe ones discussed have been some of the most prevalent, of the threeonly two hold some historical basis for concern but the last one fallsapart upon a logical evaluation. The real reason for concealment hasless to do with a tactical advantage I think and more to do with asocial advantage. If the ARMED CITIZEN thinks he would be better servedin a temporary social environment to have his weapon concealed then byall means do. An example might be that you’re shopping at a local mallowned and operated by big city politically correct hacks that areobviously anti-gun. If you know they’ll ask you to leave their propertyshould they become aware of you exercising your rights, it would beunderstandable to conceal it from their view; that is if you have toshop there. Maybe you’
re going to church and you don’t want to drawattention from the preacher and his sermon. Bottom line, you shouldconceal when you think it is reasonable and serves a nobler purpose,not because someone pressured you.

THE CASE FOR OPEN CARRY
BEWARE OF DOG/GUN

A sign, be it text, picture, or symbol, is something visual whichcommunicates a clear message to the observer. The observer can chooseto disregard the sign but nonetheless they are forced to consider themessage before proceeding. Examples of signs conveying an importantmessage would be “BEWARE OF DOG”, “NO SMOKING”, “EMERGENCY EXIT”, orthe more ominous “DEADLY FORCE AUTHORIZED”. Each sign aids the observerin any potential decision making. Of course, the observer may choose toignore the warning but this choice will be made based on whether thepotential reward outweighs the risk.

The case for open carry is simple. I would submit that in much the sameway that a sign works, when the ARMED CITIZEN carries his weapon in theopen it communicates a clear message to any observer. To an observerwho has no intention of causing harm or using illegal force the signshould be meaningless. However, when the CRIMINAL observes this samesign he must reconsider whether the potential reward outweighs therisk. Where the risk was simply being caught or having to physicallyoverpower the UNARMED CITIZEN it now suddenly rises to potentiallyenduring great pain and death when confronting the ARMED CITIZEN. Doinsane or even desperate CRIMINALS exist who would disregard such anobvious sign and follow through with an attack? As with any possibilitythe answer is YES but even though they exist their actions do notsupport the opposing view that open carry should be avoided. They canstill be potentially stopped by the ARMED CITIZEN once he becomes awareof the CRIMINALS intent to present a lethal threat.

With regard to the element of surprise discussed earlier, open carryactually supersedes the need for surprise. If carrying openly causesthe CRIMINAL to avoid you and those around you as his victims then theneed for surprise is negated. Your display of an ability to employdeadly force has avoided the confrontation before it even began,avoided the threat to your life and having to actually use your weapon.As the CRIMINAL moves on to easier prey you will likely never be awareit even happened.

CONCLUSION
THE REAL PROBLEM WITH OPEN CARRY

What is the real reason some shy from open carry? I believe it to befear; the anxiety of having to confront someone hostile to their choiceto carry a weapon for personal defense. As a pro-carry activist Iwelcome it but I can understand where a large section of armed citizensdo not. Are their times when it is expedient to conceal your sidearm,defiantly? Should you feel ashamed to carry it openly, NO! Hundreds ofthousands of people have fought state after state to pass legislationto restore that right which was once only granted at the behest oflocal law enforcement.

Anti-gun hacks claim to have a right to “feel safe.” This non-existentright has been twisted from the right to “be secure in one’s person andeffects” a right I exercise whenever I carry my weapon. The anti-guncrowd has the twisted perception that the weapon and not the criminalis the threat. They will and have called the police to harass the ARMEDCITIZEN; I advise you show your permit and carry on. They may card youas many times as they wish as I long as you know you are legal nothingthey do should stop you from carrying openly.

We, the pro-carry citizens, have to stop criticizing each other. Wehave to stop playing footsy with the politically correct crowd andstick together. Public opinion can be swayed in our favor if we as lawabiding citizens can show through open carry that we are safe, caringindividuals whose only want is to be able to defend our family andourselves from needless victimization. Ben Franklin said it best whenhe explained that “the very fame of our strength and readiness would bea means of discouraging our enemies; for tis a wise and true sayingthat one sword often keeps the other in the scabbard. The way to securepeace is to be prepared for war. Those who are on the guard and appearready to receive their adversaries are in much less danger of attackthan the secure, the supine, and the negligent.”

2007, Garry Harvey. This document may be reproduced with the condition that it be kept in it’s entirity and cited accordingly

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