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Open Carry Vs Concealed Carry. When does it make sense?

Updated: Mar 25, 2022

Hello again, it’s Doc! Today I wanted to discuss a hot button topic of open vs concealed carry and at least in my mind when it makes sense to me to carry open vs concealed. Concealed carry is the practice of carrying a weapon (such as a handgun) in public in a concealed manner, on one's person. Open carry is going to be the practice of carrying a weapon/firearm about the body openly or in plain sight. The laws which govern the permittance of open and concealed carry vary greatly from state to state and definitely must be researched as one is considering getting a personal defense weapon to be apart of their self defense strategy. In the state in which we live SC, residents and persons owning real property in SC are able to apply and upon demonstrating proof of training and passing a background check, are able to obtain a license to both open and conceal carry a firearm. The allowance of open carry with proof of training came about after law change which went into effect August 15,2021.

In my mind, concealed carry is still in many cases the most desirable method of carry for personal defense weapons. Many times, when we have our weapon on us it will be in the process of doing mundane everyday task of living such as going to Target or the grocery store. In these environments you often times have groups of people of all ages, backgrounds, and life experiences in close proximity to you. Some of these people may simply not like guns or have had previous traumatic experience with guns. In my opinion it’s not worth walking into a well populated area and putting all there on high alert because they have seen a gun displayed openly on my body and now those individuals become uncomfortable with my presence. This may lead to an unintended encounter with law enforcement after calls being placed by other concerned citizens or business owners. My intent with carrying a gun is for my personal protection and the protection of other innocent parties such as friends and family. I can still achieve this goal while appearing to be an unassuming member of society, blending in with the crowd using a concealed carry method.

Next in the argument supporting concealed carry is “if they can see it, they can take it”. If you were in a densely populated area such as a Walmart, Sam’s Club, or Target and chose to open carry you now have another element to worry more about. This additional thing to consider is weapon retention or the process of retaining your gun from unauthorized access. Quite literally if I have a gun out and visible and a person with bad intentions comes along and has clear view of my gun it is easier for them to access or take the gun if their approach is one that catches me off guard. Open carry of a handgun requires the highest level of situational awareness to make sure individuals you don’t personally know do not invade your 6ft “bubble of comfort”. Persons within this zone can quickly launch an attack for which it would be exceedingly difficult to respond to due to close proximity. While situational awareness is a must for everyone in everyday life, the threat of having your weapon taken by an assailant is lessened when they don’t know a weapon is there.

Lastly concealed carry in the general public makes the most sense to me for reasons of making you appear less threating and less of a target to criminals. Let’s take for example you are in a store when an armed robbery begins. Robbers walk in with guns out and the 1st person they see is you with your gun visibly displayed. Essentially you have presented yourself as the 1st threat to the criminal activity in progress and chances of violent action being taken against you are higher than maybe others around you whom are appearing to comply and appear less of a threat. Open carry in the crowded general public setting causes you to lose the element of surprise to catch an attacker off guard.

Now open carry is not all bad and there are some limited settings in which I believe it has a good place. Open carry for me makes sense in settings of when you are tending to your own property especially if that property is expansive or in a rural setting. If you are out engaged in outdoor activity in rural or remote settings where the unexpected act of violence by person or animal may happen quickly out of view of witnesses or others who are available to render aid.

In all, these are my opinions formulated after 16 years of concealed carrying firearms of different sizes, calibers, and in different locations. It is ultimately up to the individual to analyze their own situation and threat risk to develop a personal defense strategy and carry method that is practical and in regulation with the laws of their territory.

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