The Open Carry Debate

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 6 months ago

U.S. News is hosting a debate over open carry.  First, Lindsay Nichols.

Private citizens should not be allowed to carry firearms openly in public. The open carrying of firearms on the street and in places like restaurants and parks intimidates the public, wastes law enforcement resources, and increases the risk that someone will be injured or killed from the accidental or intentional use of firearms. In response to these dangers and an aggressive “open carry movement” in California, in 2011 the California Legislature banned the open carrying of handguns. Other states should consider similar action.

When individuals openly carry firearms in public, other citizens may become concerned about impending crime and contact the police. In this way, the open carrying of firearms causes a waste of law enforcement resources, but more importantly, it threatens public safety.

How the risk of an inadvertent or accidental discharge is greater with open carry than concealed carry Ms. Nichols doesn’t say.  Besides, the notion that it may be inconvenient for folk would not seem to be a promising line of argument before most courts.  Whether something is legal would be the more important question.  Not much there to see.  On to Mr. Ralph Shortey.

The debate over how some may carry a firearm for protection can only be discussed when the foundation for the carry provisions has been fairly set. Most conceal and carry laws restrict a right that is guaranteed by the Constitution. To say that you may only carry a firearm if you have paid a certain amount of money to the government for a licensing fee and then submit to regulation would be equivalent to telling the press that they must abide by certain rules and pay for the right of free speech.

I recently had a debate with a friend who told me that everyone has the right to defend themselves and that gun control does nothing to infringe on that. The issue this brings up is a very simple one. If you are attacked by an unarmed assailant, and you are yourself unarmed, then for the most part you have the right to self-defense. However, if the assailant is armed or is otherwise stronger, bigger, or faster than you, then the government has guaranteed through regulation that you are not only unarmed but also an easy target. “The right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” It seems like this should be easy enough to understand.

Let’s assume, however, that the carry provisions we are talking about are fair in their access to every citizen. The first question that must be answered is, “Why does the government think it has the right to tell a law-abiding citizen how they may go about protecting themselves?” Some may feel that the best way to defend yourself is by letting the criminals know that you are not an easy target. Most criminals look for the easiest and quickest route to their goal. There is nothing that will slow a criminal down faster than seeing a loaded gun at the ready.

And here, law abiding citizen is the key.  Courts have upheld the idea that states have the right to examine the background of a would-be firearms owner to ensure that they are in fact law-abiding.  McDonald versus Chicago seems to indicate that the requirements cannot be obstructionist, but must be the minimal regulations that accomplish the goal.

I’ve already discussed my own experiences with open carry.  “I open carry, and as I have mentioned before, and women and children don’t run off screaming in fear, and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police, who are well-educated and comprehensively trained, simply wave and smile as they go past me while openly carrying my weapon.  The issue has to do with bigotry and prejudice, not concocted or fabricated problems that it causes.”

I open carry because I simply hate IWB holsters and sweating my weapon like I do when I go outside in the summer with my weapon concealed.  I am not trying to prove a point so much as I simply find it much more convenient to open carry than conceal carry.  The people I’m around never seem to mind.

If people mind, it’s usually the police.  Witness an open carry club in Missouri.

The only issue I have with this example is that, unfortunately in a very strange decision, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of stop and identify statutes, and Missouri is a stop and identify state.

But the real issue doesn’t have anything to do with open or concealed carry.  The real issue is that this debate is yet another subterfuge to the real aim of the anti-firearms extremists, i.e., the eradication of all firearms from the possession of law abiding people.

At National Review, Robert VerBruggen does a nice job of fisking Jill Lepore’s piece in The New Yorker on the history of the second amendment and gun control.  I’ll leave it to Robert to supply you with the data on how firearms and the second amendment were seen and interpreted in early America.  But the mistake I see with most second amendment detractors is that the claim that the right to firearms ownership resides with the states because of the word “militia” dismisses the context and thus miss the point.

The second amendment makes no sense whatsoever if individuals didn’t own firearms.  The militias were made up of individuals who owned firearms and thus brought them to bear on issues of the state and oppressive authorities.  The ubiquity of firearms in colonial America means that individual ownership was presupposed with the second amendment, even if not specifically addressed.

But as to the warp and woof of Lepore’s piece, all you need to know about it is this silly quote:

Inside, there’s a shop, a pistol range, a rifle range, a couple of classrooms, a locker room, and a place to clean your gun. The walls are painted police blue up to the wainscoting, and then white to the ceiling, which is painted black. It feels like a clubhouse, except, if you’ve never been to a gun shop before, that part feels not quite licit, like a porn shop.

Seriously?  This passes for serious journalism these days?  The best part of [VerBruggen's] piece was the following comment: “The most shocking part of this article is that people still read the New Yorker.”  Apparently, people still do.  Lepore’s piece is breathlessly fawned over and pushed at The Daily Beast, The Atlantic Wire and other sites.



  • bob sykes

    In District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), the Supreme Court ruled “The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home. Pp. 2–53.”

    I continue to see comments on blogs and letters to newspapers whose writers are totally ignorant of this decision, which is one of the most import Supreme Court decisions in history.

  • SomeSockPuppet

    “And we would have gotten away with it too if not for those dang uppity citizens and their rights!”

    I’m having an ongoing “discussion” with local legislators about the draconian restrictions to any sort of carry in lower NY. They are not very open to the idea of citizens carrying in any capacity. 3-4 choices for LEO related carry, but none for citizens.

    They don’t see the problem with this.

    I can’t wait to move out of this dump.

  • Pingback: SayUncle » The open carry debate

  • Phssthpok

    “The only issue I have with this example is that, unfortunately in a very strange decision, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of stop and identify statutes, and Missouri is a stop and identify state.”

    While it’s true that SCOTUS upheld S&I statutes, they also held that any S&I statute MUST be narrowly defined as to be applicable ONLY when applied in a valid ‘Terry’ stop. This means that officers MUST have a Reasonable articulable suspicion that a crime has been, is being, or is about to be committed before an S&I statute can be legally enforced.

    Note that in the above video the officers ‘requested’ ID…there was no ‘demand/order’ to produce ID because they knew that OC was perfectly legal. Also listen to the ‘reveal’…. they wanted ID to ‘make sure you all are OK to carry (read: not prohibited persons)’. It was a fishing expedition…had they provided ID at that point there would be no constitutional 5A protection against whatever evidence the ‘running’ of the ID produced.

  • Pingback: The Captain's Journal » Civil Rights Update: Open Carry In Oklahoma


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This article is filed under the category(s) Firearms,Guns,Second Amendment and was published April 25th, 2012 by Herschel Smith.

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