Monday, June 9, 2008

Story on Open Carry

Story in the L.A. Times on open carry. Fairly balanced, given the source.

Bill White, 24, a graduate student at the University of Colorado at Boulder, wears his Colt pistol when he goes to his local Starbucks in Westminster, Colo.

PROVO, UTAH -- For years, Kevin Jensen carried a pistol everywhere he went, tucked in a shoulder holster beneath his clothes.

In hot weather the holster was almost unbearable. Pressed against Jensen's skin, the firearm was heavy and uncomfortable. Hiding the weapon made him feel like a criminal.

Then one evening he stumbled across a site that urged gun owners to do something revolutionary: Carry your gun openly for the world to see as you go about your business.

In most states there's no law against that.

Jensen thought about it and decided to give it a try. A couple of days later, his gun was visible, hanging from a black holster strapped around his hip as he walked into a Costco. His heart raced as he ordered a Polish dog at the counter. No one called the police. No one stopped him.

Now Jensen carries his Glock 23 openly into his bank, restaurants and shopping centers. He wore the gun to a Ron Paul rally. He and his wife, Clachelle, drop off their 5-year-old daughter at elementary school with pistols hanging from their hip holsters, and have never received a complaint or a wary look.
While folks can argue the tactical merits of open versus concealed carry until the cows come home, the reality is that, like most everything else, there exist pros and cons with each carry mode. The one undeniable aspect of open carry, however, is that it makes a political statement, and helps acclimatize the non-gun carrying public to the sight of their ordinary fellow citizens peacefully exercising their right to keep and bear arms, in a way that concealed carry does not.

My suggestion to those who carry openly (where legal to do so, of course) is to learn and train your weapon retention skills, and to strongly consider carrying in a holster with one or more retention devices, e.g., a thumb strap or other retaining device(s). And to train drawing and re-holstering with that holster, so that you are skilled in disengaging and re-engaging the retention devices under stress. Of course, a good awareness of your surroundings is always important, and no less so when carrying openly. Indeed, good situational awareness is arguably even more important when openly carrying, as the risk of gun grabs is likely higher than with concealed carry.

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