When I was 18, I carried a handgun openly on occasion. I was in full compliance with the law and respected private establishments’ wishes – understanding that an establishment’s owners, who don’t wish to allow guns, are afforded the liberties to make that decision and that I didn’t want to give them my money anyway. Whenever I did open-carry, I always felt extremely anxious and over time I assumed that that feeling of angst wouldn’t disappear; even when I decided to obtain my Concealed Handgun License. About six-months after turning 22, I did just that. When I finally got my license, I immediately began carrying; wearing my sidearm nearly every moment of every day. I noticed that the feeling that I had while open-carrying no longer existed. I had to step back and think about why.
The idea that one should think about and prepare for possible life-threatening scenarios isn’t a popular notion; at least, not the part where you run towards the sound of gunfire, fight back or use others methods outside of the now popular “Run, Hide, Fight” angle. What leaves some people especially appalled is when someone suggests; “You need to think about attack scenarios from the active shooter’s point-of-view. How would you commit such an act?” The idea, behind the statement, is that you plan how you would commit the act yourself so that you can analyze how you would defend yourself and others from said attack. What happens if you’re cornered or run for a known exit that has been compromised? One of the most notable examples of such forethought, used by an active shooter, was during the Virginia Tech attack.
The fear of the unknown disappeared because I chose to retain an important level of my own personal security (PERSEC). By switching over to concealed carry, I made it nearly impossible to discern that I should be considered the most immediate threat to their plan of attack because my sidearm was no longer plain to see. You must assume that a potential attacker, whom you may encounter, is just as critical in their analysis of a situation as you are and that thought must be retained in your own mental arsenal. That is, until they make a mistake which you can exploit. The fact of the matter is that critical analyses are just as important in responsible firearms ownership and carry as properly educating non-owners is.
Very recently, an important angle that was forgotten by the protesters of University of Texas – Austin, when the Campus Carry law went into effect on the 1st of August, was how the number of concealed carriers would back-up the existing campus police force. While UTPD contains a large amount of staff – most of which are likely armed due to their backgrounds – there are some colleges that have a force which consists of less than ten armed officers. These officers come either from the closest immediate city or from the county / parish. Without picking a specific college and most certainly not knowing the percentage of licensed students; there may very well be a considerable number of colleges that would see the capable defensive force double or triple in size due to CHL holders being a second layer of security.
Furthermore, it is a layer of security that cannot easily be pinpointed by a criminal. On a college campus, concealed carriers aren’t necessarily associated with each other, they rotate locations every hour or so and the overall amount fluctuates by the days of the week due to class schedules. In all reality, there are many smaller details of each person’s life that would dictate the numbers on-campus at any given time and those details aren’t exclusive to college campuses. It would be nearly impossible for any one person to identify every concealed carrier at any one location. Though there was the Journal-News (New York, 2012) newspaper that obtained the permitted ownership data and posted the owner’s information from a two-county area on an interactive map address and all. There were at least two burglaries which took place, after the list went live, where the firearm was specifically targeted.
The United States has become very intimate with the thought that words on paper and metal signs, citing laws, will prevent crime entirely. The fact is that current U.S. laws don’t deal with violent offenders in any immediate or permanent capacity and, in most cases, see to it that some criminals with mile-long rap sheets are allowed back on the streets. You must not assume that open-carry will deter an attack simply based on a display of defensive capabilities. We have seen proof of this in the ambushes of law enforcement personnel in Dallas and Baton Rouge just this year alone. The men who were gunned down in those shootings were police officers, badged and armed, tasked with defending the innocent and upholding the law. Their elevated status, so to speak, did not prevent them from being targeted by hostile criminals.
There are other societal issues which lead to detractors for open-carriers. The lack of an educated American public leads some of them to assume that you are a part of the criminal element that might shoot up a crowd of people at the tiniest inclination. Even though I am here in the South, I was occasionally noticed and looked down upon. The first civilians to notice tended to give off a worried air about them, which others picked up on. That could be bad news, for you, if a potential criminal hadn’t noticed your armament prior to noticing the worried group(s) of people. I am, by no means, stating that open-carry is wrong. You should be out there fighting for the right to open-carry, just as people fight for concealed carry and constitutional carry across the United States. However, one must understand that – until it is made entirely, unarguably clear to the left-wing that firearms carry, ownership and self-defense are integral parts of the fabric of the American society – it isn’t advantageous to do so due to the current political and societal climate. There is a clear difference between open-carrying at a rally and running everyday errands in town.
Concealed carry offers a clear advantage on the field with the proper training. I will be the first to admit that I did not like the process of having to “purchase an element of my rights back” and that I support Constitutional Carry movements across the nation. It is a violation of individual sovereignty and liberties. The whole process was lengthy and expensive; after fingerprinting, state-mandated training, processing fees it is just over $300 for a regular Joe. That’s not including costs of the sidearms, ammunition, Inside-The-Waistband ([IWB] or similar) holsters and defensive handgun training classes. Both issues have pushed people away from taking a CHL class and applying for their license and it is entirely understandable. However, assessing what could go wrong will help you understand that the overall cost; in paper currency, the cost is not even in the same ballpark compared to the loss of your life or the life of a loved one.
Assess your day-to-day routines and location, the politics which drive the area, and the gear and training that you have. If they’re not consistent with open-carry, it may be time to reconsider and invest in concealed carry. You do not want to be put into a position of someone else’s choosing; having already lost because you’re inside of their frame of initial contact or immediately listed dead-on-arrival.