The Austin-American Statesman is carrying an opinion piece by John Lott on the open carry bills in Texas. It is subscription, but Mr. Lott also mirrors the entire commentary on the web site Crime Prevention Research Center (where he is president). Mr. Lott felt the latitude to undercut the Austin-American Statesman by publishing the entire piece on his site, but I will only provide excerpts.
With well over 700,000 concealed handgun permit holders in Texas, there is a good chance that someone next you in a grocery store or restaurant is carrying a concealed handgun. But some are only satisfied if others actually know that they are carrying. They think that by openly carrying guns they can make others comfortable with guns. They want to make a statement.
Texas lawmakers are now wrestling with the questions of campus carry and open carry. They couldn’t face a clearer choice between enhancing safety or making political statements.
Open carry advocates carry rifles because they can’t legally openly carry handguns. While no problems have occurred, simply handling a rifle as opposed to keeping a handgun in a holster, raises the risk that something might go wrong.
Open carry advocates have not been the best at public relations and they have scared some people. Much has been made of supposed gun bans by Starbucks, Jack in the Box, Chipotle, Wendy’s, Applebee’s, Chili’s and Sonic’s supposedly banning guns. In fact, these companies merely “respectfully request” that customers not openly carry guns. Passing an open carry law where proponents carried handguns, instead of rifles, would be less threatening and thus likely make it less of a PR issue.
Still, there is a more basic problem with open carry – it isn’t as effective in protecting people.
Criminals and terrorists can strike anywhere and at any time, that gives them a huge strategic advantage. When an attacker sees someone openly carrying a gun, they can either attack that person or wait for a more opportune moment. Alternatively, they can select another target.
Concealed carry makes attacks riskier. A killer can’t attack an auditorium in Texas without facing near-certain resistance. And, of course, an attacker has no idea who might be packing heat.
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Open carry isn’t bad, but concealed carry is better. There are more important changes to be made. At $140, Texas has one of the highest permit fees in the US. Lower fees would increase the number of people who can protect others. It would especially help those who are most likely to be victims of violent crime — poor blacks living in high-crime urban areas.
If safety is the goal, let’s eliminate gun-free zones or lower permit fees. Open carry may make a political statement, but is that really the top priority?
In order fully to answer this, I have to point folks back to an article I wrote entitled Suburban Battle Rattle. I didn’t write this to be silly, trivial or even tendentious. I did it in order to get feedback from readers about what they do and how they approach this subject.
Mike Vanderboegh linked it, and one reader in particular put me on edge by saying this.
I would not recommend an ankle rig unless it was for your “third gun”. For years I worked plain clothes assignments as a DA Investigator. I was in some of the worst areas of SoCal. My duty weapon was a Glock 19 in a very secure DeSantis rig on my right hip. In my left front pants pocket was a S&W model 37 with a bobbed hammer in a Galco pocket rig. Extra mags were on my belt and in the left pocket of my sport coat, I kept an impact device, edged device, and a few other lightweight goodies.
If you have to evac and area in a hurry, ankle rigs will not only slow you down, they can loosen and start spinning around your ankle. Been there, done that.
The best weapon I had was the one between my two ears. Situational awareness and OODA techniques kept me in one piece until I was eligible to retire. H/T to Mr. Mike: I did not poke any wolverines in their nether regions unless I had a good plan in place and a secure method of egress.
” …ankle rigs will not only slow you down, they can loosen and start spinning around your ankle. Been there, done that.” I don’t so much disagree with him, as dismiss it as bluster if he doesn’t back it all up by political action and other necessary things to force changes to both law and cultural norms to allow open carry. Let me explain a bit and then I’ll get back to John Lott.
I’ve had my ankle rig swing around on me too, and beyond that, if I needed it quickly I am hampered by the location of the weapon and its being covered by my trousers. But it’s one thing to complain about ankle rigs while you’re a LEO who can open carry, and quite another to work to change the situation for those of us who cannot open carry all of the time.
Even though my own home state is a traditional open carry state, I cannot open carry all of the time because of cultural norms. Sometimes I am left with concealed carry IWB or ankle rig. I find IWB carry obnoxious for a number of reasons, including but not limited to: (1) sweat and body oils rust and corrode your weapon, (2) it’s uncomfortable, and (3) you must use a small handgun or print your clothing.
With swollen knuckles due to my arthritis, I cannot efficiently handle small frame subcompacts (I do just fine with larger frame weapons). So I am left with a large frame weapon which weighs too much and prints at my side. I may as well use a rigger’s belt and open carry, which I find significantly more comfortable than IWB carry. I’m saying all of this to suggest that Lott’s assertion that open carry is done in order to make a political statement is both insulting and ignorant. When I open carry, I don’t do it to make any kind of statement.
But beyond being insulting and ignorant, Lott’s procedure is the same as he has used before, and it is as objectionable as it has always been. As I’ve stated before:
“What happens to society at the macroscopic level is immaterial. My rights involve me and my family, and don’t depend on being able to demonstrate that the general health effects in society are not a corollary to or adversely affected by the free exercise of them. It’s insidious and even dangerous to argue gun rights as a part of crime prevention based on statistics because it presupposes what the social planners do, i.e., that I’m part of the collective.” I object to John Lott’s procedure, and have stated frequently that I do not believe in the second amendment. I believe in God. The Almighty grants me the rights to be armed, and when the Almighty has spoken, it is eternal law for all men everywhere and in all ages and epochs. See also Holding Human Rights Hostage To Favorable Statistical Outcomes, and Kurt Hoffman on the same subject.
And that’s the main problem with John Lott and his procedure. If you need to, read his commentary above again, very carefully. He doesn’t come right out and say he is opposed to the legalization of open carry, but he spends his entire time trying to prove that it is inferior to concealed carry, and ends with the question, is it “really a top priority?”
He is trying to talk the Texas legislators into letting the bills perish in committee. It isn’t good enough for him to enable the practice of God-given rights. It isn’t good enough for him to couple with other gun rights activists to press forward to the enjoyment of more freedom. No, for some inexplicable reason he must work to undermine the gun rights community and be divisive and schismatic. Being quiet isn’t good enough. He must engage in chest pounding, blathering on in front of people about how much he knows. As to how much he supposedly knows, I do Monte Carlo particle transport calculations, worrying over things like the first, second and third moments of a problem, sampling statistics, variance reduction and meeting the central limit theorem. John Lott doesn’t impress me (with his anecdotal accounts in the distribution “tails”) any more than the VPC or Brady gun controllers.
Ironically, while various anti-gun groups such as the VPC attempt to use arguments like this to prohibit the practice of God-given rights by a subterfuge of worthless “statistics” they don’t really understand, John Lott attempts to do the very same thing under the guise of being safe and ensuring the best response to potential attackers. He is more like the anti-gun crowd than he would be willing to admit. It isn’t enough that we must do battle with the collectivists to ensure the free exercise of our rights. We must also do battle with self-proclaimed gun rights advocates like John Lott. Working to legalize open carry in Texas doesn’t change cultural norms, but it’s a starting point. Those of us who favor such legalization will have to step over the “gun rights” activists to make this happen.