• Open Carry vs. Concealed Carry: Which Is the Better Option

    Surge Summary: There are pros and cons to open carrying vs. concealed carrying a firearm. On balance, concealed carry seems to be the better option.

    by Michael Cummings

    If you own a pistol and either have a concealed carry permit in your state, or reside in a state with Constitutional Carry – meaning, your state allows citizens to legally conceal carry without a permit – let’s talk concealed carry versus open carry. Since gun ownership is only going up, this also concerns Americans new to gun ownership if your 2020 goal is to purchase a pistol and apply for a permit.

    First, definitions.

    Concealed carry is what it sounds like — someone is carrying a firearm on his/her person but you wouldn’t see it with a casual look. When you know what to look for, sometimes you can see the outline of the firearm and/or holster in the clothing, a term called “printing.” On the other hand, open carry is someone carrying a firearm outside his clothing holstered or slung on his waist or shoulder. For years I was ambivalent about open carry as there are benefits to both:

    Open carry

    Pro: Exposure breeds familiarity so the more people are see guns, the more comfortable they become with them – especially when they see how guns don’t jump out of holsters and shoot up a shopping mall on their own. Also, in a life-threatening scenario, open carry allows bearers to access their firearm faster than conceal carry.

    Con: People calling the police because guns scare them, which pull the firearm owner into a protracted discussion with law enforcement about local laws within said jurisdiction. Those who call the police in these cases rarely stop to think that if you see a gun in its holster, statistically speaking you’re safer than when you don’t see a murderer coming. In addition, open carry increases the odds that a murderer/terrorist sees that you’re armed and tries to kill you first. If you’re an open-carrying civilian who’s not in an official capacity to protect others and you aren’t trained properly, odds are not with you to survive an encounter.

    Conceal carry

    Pro: No one sees that you’re carrying a deadly weapon so everyone goes about their day. No conversation with law enforcement is necessary. Should a situation arise that would benefit from a good guy with a gun, you remove your pistol from concealment, and engage the enemy. Pretty clean.

    Con: It will take you longer to access your firearm should you need to remove it from under a jacket, shirt, pant leg, or purse. Seconds count so if you don’t train with the various places you might carry concealed, you may compromise your ability to respond in a timely manner.

    Let’s go to the December 29 church shooting that occurred in White Settlement, Texas. Take a look at the footage. As of this writing, we don’t know everything about the incident – motives, make/model of the gun(s) used, accomplices, etc. What we see in the video, however, is the gunman shooting two people before getting shot by hero Jack Wilson, a member of the security team and the church’s firearms trainer.

    The shooter knew to confront the security guards first so it’s safe to say the guards were either known by the murderer or, like our church, they wore something that identified them as security. Anything that marks you as a threat to a murderer’s intentions compromises your ability to respond faster than he. Open carrying a firearm is the pinnacle of this situation.

    It seems to me if you carry, don’t open carry and if you carry concealed, ensure where you carry on your person is right for you and no one else. Lastly, don’t tell the entire world you’re carrying concealed; no one but your family needs to know.

    The White Settlement shooting should remind us all to take training more seriously so let’s commit to honing our active shooter response skills. Like many things, these skills are perishable; use them or lose them.

    God be with you in 2020.

    This views in this column are those of the author and not necessarily Daily Surge. 

    Image: By Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme’s pistol, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20698716

    Michael A. Cummings has a Bachelors in Business Management from St. John’s University in Collegeville, MN, and a Masters in Rhetoric & Composition from Northern Arizona University. He has worked as a department store Loss Prevention Officer, bank auditor, textbook store manager, Chinese food delivery man, and technology salesman. Cummings wrote position pieces for the 2010 Trevor Drown for US Senate (AR) and 2012 Joe Coors for Congress (CO) campaigns.


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