As open carry of pistols is about to become a reality here in Texas, the debate continues to rage about whether or not that is a smart idea. Open carry advocates claim that it deters crime, while concealed carry diehards say that it makes you a target; so which is it?
The first claim seems obvious, as a hard target deters crime. As Heinlein so famously observed, “an armed society is a polite society…”. However, it’s absolutely impossible to put hard numbers to this claim, as you can’t prove the nonexistence of something; you can only point to the numbers which show that as gun ownership goes up, crime goes down.
The CC only group says that you lose the advantage of surprise if you open carry. True enough, admits the OC’ers, but “you wouldn’t need surprise if you had OC’d and deterred them in the first place”. That sounds great, but how well does the claim hold up?
He knew she had a gun, in fact, that’s why he attacked! Here’s another.
The attacker swung full force for his head. The gun was carried “Open Carry”. It was a 357 Sig. We think this person was trying to get the handgun by knockout hitting him in the head with an aluminum bat.
So we can’t prove the numbers, but we know conclusively that OC does not work as a deterrent every time. But CC still has to overcome the problems of a slower draw and by default appear to be a softer target, right? Maybe, maybe not.
To get the right answer, you first have to ask the right question. The more I look at it, the more I think that the question is not OC or CC. Each has an appropriate place. I really want OC to be a big thing, because when that is accepted it will mean that society has returned to a time of sanity, one when people are expected to provide for their own safety.
But back to the first point about OC, the part where it makes you a hard target. If you haven’t yet figured out where I’m going with this… it doesn’t make you a hard target. Sure, it discourages petty thieves in much the same way that a lock stops some burglars, but not a home invasion crew. Sorry y’all, but watching youtube videos and scrolling through #gunstagram doesn’t make you an operator.
What will lessen the odds that you’re attacked is:
- Follow the 3 stupid rules. Don’t go stupid places, with stupid people, to do stupid things. If you avoid those three, that will protect you from the vast majority of problems. For the very small percentage of trouble that comes looking for you, employ –
- The Principles of Personal Defense. As Cooper wrote in the foreword of a later edition, nothing in the book needed to change because the principles are about software, not hardware.
If you’ve ever watched nature documentaries, you know that predators go for the sick, weak, injured prey. If you look like food, you will be eaten. Don’t worry, you don’t need to shave your head, get tattoos and scowl all the time to avoid looking like food. You do need to be alert and confident. It also helps if you’re fit.
Learn Verbal Judo. Become a student of body language. Take a class on self defense and the skills you learn will give you something that cannot be faked: confidence.
As the old joke about the two men preparing to run from a bear goes – “I don’t have to outrun the bear, I just have to outrun you”. Likewise, you don’t have to be a high speed, low drag operator for thugs to look elsewhere; you just have to be more work than it’s worth.
Lest you think I’m bashing open carry, I’m not. I’m simply recommending that you train until you are proficient, rather than simply donning the accoutrements.
OC is not a talisman. If you’re not willing to train, please, leave the gun at home. That goes for concealed carry as well; if you don’t have the mindset and skills, you’re better off looking for an alternative.
Certainly there is a lot more to the subject than I have written here. Rebuttals or additions are appreciated, as iron sharpens iron.