Why Conceal Weapons?

 

Despite not carrying a gun, I’m a 2nd Amendment extremist, which is to say I respect the US Constitution as written.

It says “the right to keep and bear Arms” — not the right to bear only “firearms,” nor only the right to “keep” arms in the home. The Constitution’s authors clearly meant the public carrying of weapons, as evidenced by plain language and history.

They meant it for every state. The Bill of Rights lists the common rights of all Americans; the most basic standards of political liberty. State governments are free to qualify and specify beyond those essential freedoms but have no authority to contradict them. Thus, for example, banning public carry of long knives (in Texas, of all places) is blatantly unconstitutional.

But beyond questions of constitutionality are considerations of prudence. Among them: Why should handgun carriers conceal their weapons?

The founders didn’t. Do modern laws for concealed carry permits prevent situations which were evident before the 20th century? Are there both advantages and disadvantages to carrying openly?

Is the common requirement to conceal weapons a burden or just good sense?

There are 68 comments.

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  1. PHenry Member

    As I understand it, you need a license to carry concealed, but you do not need a license to carry open. So open carry is the requirement, unless licensed to conceal. 

     The only disadvantages I know to open carry are that if someone comes in the room intent to do harm, you will likely be the first target, and the hysterical reactions some have to the sight of a weapon. 

     

    • #1
    • January 31, 2019, at 8:13 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  2. Tex929rr Coolidge

    Generally speaking, a concealed weapon is more tactically sound for a person going about their daily business. The only time I carry openly is walking my dogs (rural roads) or out and about on my property.

    Concealed carry has been legal here since, IIRC, 1995, and open carry of handguns only for a few years. Open carry of long guns has been legal for a long time.

    • #2
    • January 31, 2019, at 8:15 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  3. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Post author

    PHenry (View Comment):
    and the hysterical reactions some have to the sight of a weapon. 

    If more people were accustomed to seeing weapons carried in public, it might be less controversial. Strangeness draws attention. Norms are ignored.

    • #3
    • January 31, 2019, at 8:17 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  4. Tex929rr Coolidge

    PHenry (View Comment):

    As I understand it, you need a license to carry concealed, but you do not need a license to carry open. So open carry is the requirement, unless licensed to conceal.

    The only disadvantages I know to open carry are that if someone comes in the room intent to do harm, you will likely be the first target, and the hysterical reactions some have to the sight of a weapon.

    Depends on the state. Texas requires a concealed handgun permit to carry a handgun openly. No permit for long guns.

    While it seems silly, I believe it was a compromise to get the open carry bill passed. Some open carry advocates were so obnoxious that they almost completely derailed the process in the legislature.

     

     

    • #4
    • January 31, 2019, at 8:18 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  5. Seawriter Member

    Aaron Miller: Why should handgun carriers conceal their weapons?

    There are several tactical reasons for keeping weapons concealed.

    The first and most important is defensive use of handguns is defensive. You cannot use your handgun (or even threaten to use it) unless there is a clear hazard to human life. (That is why the first thing you should tell the police if you use a gun for self-defense is “I was in fear for my life.” That is virtually the only acceptable reason for discharging a firearm in self-defense.)

    If a bad guy intends to commit a violent crime the first thing he will do is identify any threats to his safety. That means anyone carrying openly. They become the first target. Meanwhile the guy carrying concealed is viewed as one of the sheep to be shorn, and less attention is paid to that individual. This gives the good guy with a gun a tactical advantage over a bad guy with the gun.

    A second consideration is that carry conceal transforms everyone into a threat to the bad guy. Who is carrying when he walks into that Stop-and-Rob? It could be any customer, from that redneck with an NRA hat to the innocent-looking little old lady, who pulls the pistol out of her purse to plug the bad guy while he is covering the redneck with the NRA hat.

    My assumption is criminals are rational actors. They rarely put themselves voluntarily to unnecessary risks. Before conceal-carry was passed in Texas, armed carjackings and armed robberies were common. Today, criminals have shifted to theft of parked cars and burglary of unoccupied residences. Because that little old lady might be packing heat.

    • #5
    • January 31, 2019, at 8:21 AM PDT
    • 18 likes
  6. Pony Convertible Member

    The legality of open carry versus concealed carry vary by state. In Indiana, you need a permit to carry. It doesn’t matter if you carry concealed or open. Arizona allows open carry without a permit, but you need one to carry concealed. 

    • #6
    • January 31, 2019, at 8:34 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  7. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Post author

    Seawriter (View Comment):
    If a bad guy intends to commit a violent crime the first thing he will do is identify any threats to his safety.

    True. 

    Seawriter (View Comment):
    Who is carrying when he walks into that Stop-and-Rob? It could be any customer

    Yes, but a criminal is more likely to roll the dice among people not showing weapons than among multiple people showing weapons. Open carry is more beneficial if common. 

     

    Seawriter (View Comment):
    My assumption is criminals are rational actors.

    Most criminals are idiots. But yes, they recognize danger when they see it.

    • #7
    • January 31, 2019, at 8:42 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  8. Doug Watt Member

    Laws are not really written to prevent something from happening. They are written to deal with specific incidents in a consistent manner. In my experience with human beings you cannot prevent them from doing something stupid, or something evil.

    State laws vary on open carry, and concealed carry. The NRA-ILA website is a pretty good source on the laws in each state concerning firearms. State laws do change, and changes usually take effect on the first day of the new year.

    I prefer conceal carry when I’m out shopping, or whatever else I’m doing. Open carry is allowed in Arizona, and concealed carry does not require a permit. There are some restrictions as to where you can carry.

    I prefer concealed carry for tactical reasons. Someone who decides they want a pistol may decide to take your pistol when you least expect it.

    Some gun advocates can hurt their own cause. I’ve seen comments that state you should be able to walk around in public with a pistol in your hand. As far as I’m concerned the only time a pistol should be in your hand is to unload, load it, or to use it.

    • #8
    • January 31, 2019, at 8:44 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  9. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Post author

    By the way, as someone who doesn’t carry, I have always wondered how often a handgun gets in the way of physical activities — leaning on things, carrying things, etc. 

    • #9
    • January 31, 2019, at 8:45 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  10. Tex929rr Coolidge

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    By the way, as someone who doesn’t carry, I have always wondered how often a handgun gets in the way of physical activities — leaning on things, carrying things, etc.

    Depends on how you carry. Inside the waistband isn’t too bad if the holster and pants fit correctly. Paddle holsters and belt holsters can be a problem when sitting, especially in a car. Most shoulder holsters are pretty uncomfortable for concealed carry. The chest type holsters are great when carrying unconcealed, particularly for full size handguns.

    • #10
    • January 31, 2019, at 8:49 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  11. Doug Watt Member

    I should also mention that state laws on concealed carry concern carrying in public spaces. Private property owners, and businesses may restrict firearms on their premises. I’m well aware of the fact that there is no such thing as a gun free zone, but someone who has more to lose than a criminal will have to weigh the risk versus reward of carrying in a restricted area.

    Federal facilities such as a post office, military facilities, courts, or Federal office building are restricted zones. Tribal lands may also be restricted zones.

    • #11
    • January 31, 2019, at 9:09 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  12. SkipSul Moderator

    Seawriter (View Comment):
    The first and most important is defensive use of handguns is defensive. You cannot use your handgun (or even threaten to use it) unless there is a clear hazard to human life. (That is why the first thing you should tell the police if you use a gun for self-defense is “I was in fear for my life.” That is virtually the only acceptable reason for discharging a firearm in self-defense.)

    In Ohio law, even deliberately showing your weapon, or drawing it, is considered “use of a deadly weapon”. You do not have to fire it. So under Ohio law, you have to have a reasonable fear for your life (and be shown to have not created or escalated the situation to get to that point) to even get to that point.

    • #12
    • January 31, 2019, at 9:20 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  13. Fake John/Jane Galt Thatcher

    I believe that conceal carry should be the standard, preferred method, no permit should be required. I find open carry to be provocative in most situations and outside gun activities can be considered threatening to some which is one of the reasons I carry concealed.

    • #13
    • January 31, 2019, at 9:20 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  14. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Post author

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):
    I find open carry to be provocative in most situations and outside gun activities can be considered threatening to some which is one of the reasons I carry concealed.

    That’s reasonable. But, again, isn’t that provocative impression simply a consequence of rarity? The founders’ generation wore weapons openly, so seeing a sword or pistol on someone’s waste didn’t arouse suspicion.

    Is there any safe way to get back to such a norm, if we wanted to?

    • #14
    • January 31, 2019, at 9:26 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  15. Misthiocracy secretly Member

    I remember a scene from The West Wing where President Bartlett was having a private argument with Vice-President Hoynes (who was from Texas) about guns, and Bartlett said, “why do they need to conceal them? Wouldn’t it make more sense to carry them out in the open?”

    I was screaming at the tv, “open carry was illegal in Texas before 2016!”

    • #15
    • January 31, 2019, at 9:30 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  16. Doug Watt Member

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    Seawriter (View Comment):
    The first and most important is defensive use of handguns is defensive. You cannot use your handgun (or even threaten to use it) unless there is a clear hazard to human life. (That is why the first thing you should tell the police if you use a gun for self-defense is “I was in fear for my life.” That is virtually the only acceptable reason for discharging a firearm in self-defense.)

    In Ohio law, even deliberately showing your weapon, or drawing it, is considered “use of a deadly weapon”. You do not have to fire it. So under Ohio law, you have to have a reasonable fear for your life (and be shown to have not created or escalated the situation to get to that point) to even get to that point.

    In Oregon displaying a pistol, or putting it your hand in a verbal confrontation is called menacing. It is one of the fastest ways to lose your CHL that I can think of.

    The vast majority of CHL holders are responsible gun owners. The best advice I can give anyone who wishes to carry, and I have no problem with private citizens carrying, is to avoid confrontations. Walk away if you can. As a police officer I had to deal with people I didn’t know. Now, as a private citizen I don’t have to deal with the unknown, and I don’t.

     

    • #16
    • January 31, 2019, at 9:42 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  17. OldPhil Coolidge

    Despite not carrying a gun, I’m a 2nd Amendment extremist…

    Same for me, and I don’t even own one. But if Hillary had won, I was going to buy one.

    • #17
    • January 31, 2019, at 10:27 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  18. carcat74 Member

    OldPhil (View Comment):

    Despite not carrying a gun, I’m a 2nd Amendment extremist…

    Same for me, and I don’t even own one. But if Hillary had won, I was going to buy one.

    And find a good instructor to learn how to use it? A firearm is a tool, and like a chainsaw or welding torch, is dangerous when not properly handled. Shooting is also fun, with amenable company and good shooting firearms (lots of recoil is not conducive to learning to shoot without flinching, or long sessions at the range.). Do save the adult beverages for AFTER everything is cleaned and put away.

    • #18
    • January 31, 2019, at 10:48 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  19. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Post author

    carcat74 (View Comment):
    A firearm is a tool, and like a chainsaw or welding torch, is dangerous when not properly handled.

    And like a chainsaw or welding torch, use of guns can be learned through informal apprenticeship (friends and family), not only through formal classes. 

    But if I intended to carry I would sign up for classes on law and technique.

    If an aggressor threatens to murder someone, laws be damned — shoot the bastard.

    • #19
    • January 31, 2019, at 11:01 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  20. Freeven Member

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):
    If an aggressor threatens to murder someone, laws be damned — shoot the bastard.

    This is well worth pre-pondering upon opting to carry. It’s one thing to accept going to jail as a trade off for protecting the life of you and your loved ones. But are you willing to go to jail (doing harm to you and your loved ones) on behalf of a stranger? Best to have asked and answered that question ahead of time.

    • #20
    • January 31, 2019, at 11:27 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  21. Tom Meyer, Common Citizen Contributor

    Seconding others, state laws vary greatly.

    So do state cultures. Open-carry is technically legal in Massachusetts, but you’re asking for a world trouble from police and bystanders alike if you try it.

    • #21
    • January 31, 2019, at 11:27 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  22. Douglas Pratt Member

    As @seawriter eloquently said, one of the best justifications for concealed carry is the effect on crime, or what Massad Ayoob calls the “victim selection process.” The only gun laws that can be statistically proven to reduce crime are the laws that make it possible to carry concealed. Bad guys look for easy targets. If concealed carry is part of the situation, it makes it very difficult to decide who is an easy target.

    I’ve taught many women, many older folks like myself, and a few handicapped folks in the NRA Basic Pistol classes my son and I used to conduct in Virginia. Since moving to New York I’ve gotten certified to teach a class called Refuse to be a Victim, which is not weapons-oriented. For younger, healthy, confident people, crime is less of a problem; just the way you walk can make you a bad target. If a firearm isn’t appropriate, you are hardly defenseless; I have a friend who teaches classes in using a cane in self-defense. Even in restrictive NY, a cane with a curved handle is a medical device that can be carried anywhere. (A walking stick, which I prefer, is considered a weapon. If only they knew about my select collection of sword canes.)

    Situational awareness is the key. And that is another argument in favor of concealed carry, the extra responsibility it imposes on you when you carry. That attitude is one of the most important things we teach.

    • #22
    • January 31, 2019, at 11:27 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  23. Douglas Pratt Member

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    The vast majority of CHL holders are responsible gun owners. The best advice I can give anyone who wishes to carry, and I have no problem with private citizens carrying, is to avoid confrontations. Walk away if you can. As a police officer I had to deal with people I didn’t know. Now, as a private citizen I don’t have to deal with the unknown, and I don’t.

    Excellent point. I even made a Powerpoint slide out of it. Definition of winning: you survived. If you avoid the fight, you won!

    • #23
    • January 31, 2019, at 11:32 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  24. Tom Meyer, Common Citizen Contributor

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):
    I find open carry to be provocative in most situations and outside gun activities can be considered threatening to some which is one of the reasons I carry concealed.

    That’s reasonable. But, again, isn’t that provocative impression simply a consequence of rarity? The founders’ generation wore weapons openly, so seeing a sword or pistol on someone’s waste didn’t arouse suspicion.

    Is there any safe way to get back to such a norm, if we wanted to?

    Fashion trends also matter in this. My guess is that a gentleman in 1791 would have a harder time concealing a small flintlock on his person outside of winter than the average guy today.

    Ladies’ fashions and carrying is a whole complicated subject.

    • #24
    • January 31, 2019, at 11:39 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  25. Misthiocracy secretly Member

    OldPhil (View Comment):

    Despite not carrying a gun, I’m a 2nd Amendment extremist…

    Same for me, and I don’t even own one. But if Hillary had won, I was going to buy one.

    I don’t own a gun because conservatives support responsible firearms ownership, and I’m way too lazy for that sort of responsibility.

    ;-)

    • #25
    • January 31, 2019, at 11:43 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  26. Misthiocracy secretly Member

    carcat74 (View Comment):
    A firearm is a tool, and like a chainsaw or welding torch, is dangerous when not properly handled.

    I also don’t own a chainsaw or welding torch.

    ;-)

    • #26
    • January 31, 2019, at 11:45 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  27. Seawriter Member

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    carcat74 (View Comment):
    A firearm is a tool, and like a chainsaw or welding torch, is dangerous when not properly handled.

    I also don’t own a chainsaw or welding torch.

    ;-)

    Well, I guess that means you are not a lumberjack, and that’s OK. 

    • #27
    • January 31, 2019, at 11:49 AM PDT
    • 11 likes
  28. ctlaw Coolidge

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):
    I was screaming at the tv, “open carry was illegal in Texas before 2016!”

    So Miss Congeniality had it wrong:

     

    • #28
    • January 31, 2019, at 11:50 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  29. Amy Schley Moderator

    Tom Meyer, Common Citizen (View Comment):

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):
    I find open carry to be provocative in most situations and outside gun activities can be considered threatening to some which is one of the reasons I carry concealed.

    That’s reasonable. But, again, isn’t that provocative impression simply a consequence of rarity? The founders’ generation wore weapons openly, so seeing a sword or pistol on someone’s waste didn’t arouse suspicion.

    Is there any safe way to get back to such a norm, if we wanted to?

    Fashion trends also matter in this. My guess is that a gentleman in 1791 would have a harder time concealing a small flintlock on his person outside of winter than the average guy today.

    Ladies’ fashions and carrying is a whole complicated subject.

    Especially when you run into how exactly concealed and open carry are defined. If it’s a windy day and my holster imprints against my skirt, am I now brandishing? Some states would say yes, because “concealed” carry requires no ability to detect the gun. 

    • #29
    • January 31, 2019, at 12:18 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  30. Slow on the uptake Thatcher

    Tom Meyer, Common Citizen (View Comment):

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):
    I find open carry to be provocative in most situations and outside gun activities can be considered threatening to some which is one of the reasons I carry concealed.

    That’s reasonable. But, again, isn’t that provocative impression simply a consequence of rarity? The founders’ generation wore weapons openly, so seeing a sword or pistol on someone’s waste didn’t arouse suspicion.

    Is there any safe way to get back to such a norm, if we wanted to?

    Fashion trends also matter in this. My guess is that a gentleman in 1791 would have a harder time concealing a small flintlock on his person outside of winter than the average guy today.

     

    Well I’ve watched enough of Gunsmoke and Have Gun Will Travel to know that back in the day, carrying concealed was despicable for a man but perhaps not for a lady.

    I do know that when I go shopping and see someone carrying I always take a second look. So do some others. My perception is, those that open carry seem to have selected their armament based on size – the larger the better. Me, I conceal. Except when at home on my own property or walking the dogs on the road in my very rural area, but I still don’t carry obtrusively.

     

    • #30
    • January 31, 2019, at 12:23 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3