Now, let me start by saying that I realize open carry has a place. I just feel it’s place is limited. In the past I have open carried until an LEO friend of mine opened my eyes to several issues.
1 If someone is planning an armed robbery and spots your firearm, you become the first target.
2 If you haven’t practiced firearm retention drills, someone can grab your firearm. Now you have a much larger problem to deal with. As in, will they use it against you, or just run away to commit more crimes with your carry gun?
3 Situational awareness! While out and about, whether carrying open or concealed, you should be in condition yellow, no matter what. Colonel Jeff Cooper introduced a color code system that spells it out.
- White: Unaware and unprepared. If attacked in Condition White, the only thing that may save you is the inadequacy or ineptitude of your attacker. When confronted by something nasty, your reaction will probably be “Oh my God! This can’t be happening to me.”
- Yellow: Relaxed alert. No specific threat situation. Your mindset is that “today could be the day I may have to defend myself”. You are simply aware that the world is a potentially unfriendly place and that you are prepared to defend yourself, if necessary. You use your eyes and ears, and realize that “I may have to shoot today”. You don’t have to be armed in this state, but if you are armed you should be in Condition Yellow. You should always be in Yellow whenever you are in unfamiliar surroundings or among people you don’t know. You can remain in Yellow for long periods, as long as you are able to “Watch your six.” (In aviation 12 o’clock refers to the direction in front of the aircraft’s nose. Six o’clock is the blind spot behind the pilot.) In Yellow, you are “taking in” surrounding information in a relaxed but alert manner, like a continuous 360 degree radar sweep. As Cooper put it, “I might have to shoot.”
- Orange: Specific alert. Something is not quite right and has your attention. Your radar has picked up a specific alert. You shift your primary focus to determine if there is a threat (but you do not drop your six). Your mindset shifts to “I may have to shoot that person today”, focusing on the specific target which has caused the escalation in alert status. In Condition Orange, you set a mental trigger: “If that person does “X”, I will need to stop them”. Your pistol usually remains holstered in this state. Staying in Orange can be a bit of a mental strain, but you can stay in it for as long as you need to. If the threat proves to be nothing, you shift back to Condition Yellow.
- Red: Condition Red is fight. Your mental trigger (established back in Condition Orange) has been tripped. “If ‘X’ happens I will shoot that person” – ‘X’ has happened, the fight is on.
4 Yes, it is our Constitutional Right to keep and bear arms. I absolutely excercise mine. However, at least in my State there is such a charge known as “Going armed to the terror of the public”. Why draw unnecessary attention to your self. Most LEO’s I know would just pull you aside and have a quick conversation. I’d rather not draw the attention though.
By all means if you choose to open carry, know your State laws. Ignorance of the law is no excuse. Now I want to be clear, I’m addressing handguns not long guns. That’s a whole other can of worms.
I carry concealed and keep a low profile. Sometimes it’s a S&W MP9C, or when the mood strikes me I’ll reach for my full size 1911. With a quality belt and holster, it’s not hard at all to conceal that big old .45ACP.
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