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LEO Perspective on Open Carry

Editor’s Note: As a follow up on our recent open carry discussion, I asked Aaron Cowan, the Lead Instructor for Sage Dynamics and law enforcement officer to comment on open carry from a pro-liberty LEO perspective. I hope that this time around we can have a more intelligent debate on the topic without people jumping to unsupported and erroneous conclusions. To facilitate that, here are a few rules of engagement.

  1. If you comment on this article, you are certifying that you actually read it. Novel idea, I know. If your comment makes it clear to me that you didn’t read the article, your comment will be removed.
  2. Comments will be kept civil. If you want to disagree or argue a point, please feel free, but if you cannot do so without ad hominems or other window licking behavior, your comment will be removed. 
  3. Comments that accuse the author or the site of being anti-gun, anti-open carry or anti-liberty will automatically violate rule number 1 (because nothing could be further from the truth) and will be removed.


I support responsible open carry.  I do not support open carry as a political statement, or a means to incite possible negative contact with law enforcement.  I know, as you do, that our Constitutional Rights and our Second Amendment Rights specifically are very emotional subjects, as they should be.  I consider the protection of all constitutional rights a responsibility of the people that they protect.  When it comes to open carry, the obvious (and correct) explanation to those who do not agree with it is that it is their right by law to do so and in some states, the only manner a firearm can be carried in a lawful manner.  I also agree with this.

What I do not agree with is someone exercising a right but not being morally responsible in doing so.  With the carry of a firearm comes the responsibility to know how to use it and the responsibility to keep it out of the hands, to the best of your ability, those who would use it to harm innocent people.  With an openly carried firearm you are announcing to anyone who recognizes it for what it is, that there is a firearm present.  I won’t go into the usual hyperbole some use about the subject but I will say this; everywhere you go, you are carrying with you the means to take a life and protect life and it should be accorded the appropriate respect.   Without cherry picking specific situations I have encountered, I think each of us can remember a time when we observed someone carrying a firearm openly in an unsafe manner.  Using a holster without retention or an obvious lack of situational awareness are but two ways that an OC can and does look like food to anyone with the inclination and the ability to take their weapon.

We also have the responsibility to consider that the largest part of our population that open carries on a regular basis, law enforcement; have received varied degrees of weapon retention training to prevent their weapon being used against them or others.  Some of these very same trained individuals will at some point in their career have their weapon taken from them and some will lose their lives.  Of course our police officers, by occupation, seek out and interact with the criminally inclined while the responsible OC is just going about his or her daily life with no intention of seeking out a criminal.  Because of the nature of an officer’s job, some would say they are far more likely to encounter someone who would make a grab for their weapon and I totally agree.  But the statistics stand (you can refer to the latest data from the FBI’s Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted report for specific figures) and show us that even with training, officers are killed with their own weapon.  We should also consider that a great many more officers do not lose their lives because they were able to defend their weapon against a grab successfully.  If you open carry and have not taken steps to do so responsibly by receiving professional instruction on weapon retention, I would be most interested in hearing how not training has made you a more responsible gun owner.  Would you be criminally negligent if your weapon was taken from you and used against others?  Possibly.  Would you be civilly liable?  Almost guaranteed.

It can also send a bad signal to the general public.  We want normalcy with open carry, not grandstanding.  I am not saying that you shouldn’t exercise a right because it may scare or offend someone, but I think that to ignore this possibility and the consequences of it is foolish.  For open carry to be publically accepted (which is a steep slope to climb due to the negative media attention it receives) then those who choose to OC should be seen as responsible by the public.  Firearms are not political props or personal statements for the public ingestion; they are tools for self-defense.  For the mass of low-information Americans to accept this, we have to educate them, but if you have put any though to how to do that, you know that we don’t get to decide how they learn.  Our best representation for open carry is responsibility.  Disheveled appearance, poor weapon awareness, overt posturing and bad attitudes are but a few ways that we can alienate those we come in contact with.  If you are openly carrying, you are inviting a conversation about it and will do nothing to help perception if you are not willing to have that conversation in a respectful and thoughtful manner.  Sure, you can brush someone off our use the stock “It’s my right” line (because it is) but consider that your interaction may cause that person to view OC negatively and that same person may be one of the few people left who actually votes.  We can have a political discourse with the general public without grandstanding to get their attention.  I love nothing more than a passionate gun owner but I have to shake my head at the size of some of the soap boxes people use to shove their rights into other people’s faces as they go about their daily lives.  There is a time and a place for that; physically displaying a firearm as a means of political posturing first and self-defense second is the wrong order of things.

Inevitably any discussion of open carry leads to the discussion of law enforcement and how they react to it.  Law enforcement, like any other profession, has good and bad people doing the job and unfortunately varied degrees of legal knowledge across the profession.   Police officers are inquisitive by nature and training and some are nosy by purpose.  If it looks out of place, it tends to draw our attention.  The open carry of a handgun, and almost assuredly a rifle in certain areas will get our attention.  We will want to talk to you, especially if we don’t know you and guaranteed if someone called us about you.  If you are lucky, you will get someone like me, an Oathkeeper who is an American first and a LEO second; someone who knows the law and pays attention to the semantics of a situation.  But we know that you may very well end up facing the worst, most uneducated officer on shift and he/she may very well treat you like a threat because that’s how he/she perceives you.

This perception can be based on any number of factors, from your personal appearance and location to the nature of the call (if there was one) or even his/her attitude towards citizens or perhaps your initial attitude towards him/her.  You may be treated with the utmost respect, or you may be threatened.   Keep in mind that you know what the cop doesn’t, which is to say that you know you.  You can be the most patriotic, law abiding citizen that good parenting and proper education has ever produced but as LEOs, we have no way of knowing that and we don’t make a habit of taking someone’s word for it without supporting facts.  You may be threatened during the course of a contact with a LEO, usually right at the beginning and this is far more common than you might think.  If an officer is dispatched to a “man with a gun” call, it will be treated as such until shown otherwise.  Feelings can be hurt, pride bruised and time wasted but your contact with that officer is going to help shape his or her opinion of those who open carry.  I think it’s also important to note that officers self-initiating contact with someone openly carrying a firearm has prevented crimes in the past and does so regularly.  Law abiding citizens are not the only ones who purposely display firearms.  A simple stop and talk is all that is needed and both parties can be on their way, unfortunately we know that there are LEOs who are anti-gun rights and I personally wish they would all be fired for forgetting their oath, but it isn’t going to happen tomorrow, and until it does, our best action is to represent all responsible gun owners as responsible citizens.

We cannot be a house divided.  The open carry issue is one that we helped create, not because we were arguing amongst ourselves (we do that quite a bit anyway), rather because we are not sure how to police our own.  I know a few people who have taken open carry a bit too far, using it as a political tool and knowing that they were doing it specifically to make a statement at a political rally that wasn’t even about gun rights specifically; I was at a loss as to how to dissuade them.  It’s their right and by the nature and location of this rally, they wouldn’t be breaking any laws.  Even with that, I didn’t see what they intended to gain.  Of course my advice to rethink carrying simply to “show the flag” was ignored and both of them ended up detained briefly by police.  No rights were violated and the situation was quickly resolved but both men admitted to the fact later that they did not need to publicly display weapons to show solidarity with their chosen political ideals.

The public perception is swayed easily, and any “progressive” reporter with a camera and some creative wording can spin a responsible citizen into a public menace or use the public’s misunderstanding against them as a vehicle of fear to drive an agenda (AR15 shotgun, anyone?).  This underscores responsibility and a unified front against those who want to strip our rights away.  If we make open carry a political tool, we have to be prepared for the consequences of that as we don’t get to decide how people perceive it.  Sure, the more we open carry the more the public at large will be desensitized to it (pre 9/11 it was not common to see a police officer armed with a long gun on the corner of Anytown USA. Today, it’s accepted by the general public) but the best way to help the public accept it is to help each other do it responsibly.  I will ask no man or woman not to open carry where they may legally do so, but I will certainly offer advice against it if I think it is unsafe or unwise to do so and coming from a LEO background, ask them to be non-confrontational in the event of a police contact.  Our best tool against those who wish to destroy the Second Amendment is responsible behavior and peers watching out for peers.  If we argue amongst ourselves every time a new trolling video or bad LE contact video goes viral, we risk further divides in the largest active pro-rights community in the US.  I think we can do much to keep it civil amongst ourselves, and we can all do much to make sure open carry is done responsibly.

Or I could be wrong and you will burn this article down with flames of disagreement and rhetoric  😉

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49 Responses to LEO Perspective on Open Carry

  1. Butch Waddill November 21, 2013 at 9:51 am #

    An outstanding article and perhaps the best I’ve seen on this subject. Hopefully it will be widely read and applied!

    • Mark November 24, 2013 at 9:04 pm #

      I really liked this article. I would like to ask one question (not that it would be answered), I did receive weapon retention in the military but that was some time ago, is it possible to find workshops that teach these things without having to take a master defense course? mostly as a refresher. just curious as I know techniques make the same advancement as technology.

  2. Alex Ong November 21, 2013 at 10:33 am #

    “Would you be criminally negligent if your weapon was taken from you and used against others? Possibly. Would you be civilly liable? Almost guaranteed.”

    In what state? Kalifornia?

    • Tater Salad November 21, 2013 at 10:56 am #

      Depending on the situation you could be found at least civilly liable in any of the States.

      Most States will allow a civil lawsuit against you even if you are justifiably defending yourself against an attacker but you miss an hit an innocent bystander. Yes, that is even in States with stand your ground type laws.

    • mike November 22, 2013 at 10:02 am #

      in almost all actually the way the laws are wrote, you (the individual) are responsible if you choose to exercise your right. Now would you be found guilty that is a different question. in Cali. probably, in Utah heck no.

  3. Chris Knowles November 21, 2013 at 10:34 am #

    Clarity and deep thought on the subject at hand are well represented in this writing. Indeed, a common goal for OC is acceptance, but how it is represented can produce the opposite effect. Unfortunately society is conditioned to perceive on an instantaneous first look at someone. Presenting oneself in a “tidy” manner will most likely have a positive perception as an end result. If one’s appearance and /or demeanor is in fact, perceived in an “un-tidy or unruly fashion, the entire point of OC, rights, and laws will become moot. We must carry ourselves as proper as we carry a weapon to not only protect ourselves and others, but our precious right as well.

    Outstand read, thanks!

  4. Dan November 21, 2013 at 10:37 am #

    I love the article and have always felt the same way. Thanks for putting it out there. Now if people will read it and use their heads.

  5. Erik Olsen November 21, 2013 at 10:38 am #

    Very good article. Devisiveness is dragging down our side a bit and not just on LAOC.

  6. Todd Fletcher November 21, 2013 at 10:40 am #

    Well said, and thoughtfully written. You represent us well Aaron, and I thank you for that.

  7. Rob November 21, 2013 at 10:45 am #

    Very well written! !!! I, personally choose concealed carry for many of the reasons mentioned above…. The state I live in is an open carry state, with exception of a few counties and cities. Those open carry bans do not apply to a chl holder. But as a civilian, with prior military training and having taken personal courses in weapon retention, I would still carry concealed. …

  8. Richard November 21, 2013 at 10:46 am #

    Very well said.

  9. Ronald Bell November 21, 2013 at 10:47 am #

    Thank you sir, very well written. So often those that share our beliefs and convictions do not have your ability to express those thoughts into written words. Thank you again and, please, keep it up.

  10. Nick November 21, 2013 at 10:51 am #

    I honestly 100% agree with everything he said. I have had encounters with cops and the DEA once and I kept my hands in view, informed them that I was carrying, and I asked the DEA agents I was talking to if they wanted to secure my weapon. They asked to see where it was, I slowly lifted the back of my shirt and showed them and they just said “no that’s ok, can we see your CCW permit.” With my back to them still, cuz I carry mine in my lower back, I slowly reached for my wallet and pulled it out and have them my card. And after I got it back, I held my wallet in my hand so that I wasn’t reaching behind them. With all my encounters, I have tried to show as much respect to the officers and I haven’t had a single bad experience.

  11. Nick November 21, 2013 at 10:55 am #

    One other thing. People need to realize that not only while openly carrying are they potentially drawing negative attention, but making themselves a target. I know that if I was a criminal, I would take the guy down that’s open carrying because he poses the biggest threat to disrupt my plan. I would personally like to keep it a surprise that I have a gun so I have the advantage.

    • Normusa November 21, 2013 at 9:57 pm #

      This was a great article. Nick, I do not open carry in the city for the same reason–I do not want to be a target. Another reason for concealed carry is that the bad guys don’t know who is or how many have guns. There are only a small percentage of the population who carry. Keep the bad guys in the dark. That is one reason that I think the concealed carry laws in the various states have worked so well.

    • Al K November 22, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

      I agree Nick, OC is like showing your hand in a poker game and it also puts Joe average citizen in an uneasy position. I don’t feel the need to do that cause inevitably a bad situation will arise….I always carry concealed (have a permit or reciprocity in almost every state of the union) except NY, NJ, ILL. I just don’t go there…!

  12. Eric November 21, 2013 at 10:56 am #

    Nothing there I can disagree with. I believe so much should be common sense but that’s a rare commodity today. I’ve legally carried concealed for many years as I spend way to much time in an urban setting. I see no need for me to carry open there. However when in a hunting, rural, woods, etc. setting then yes I open carry. It’s almost impossible to teach those who won’t learn so I let them stay with their head in the sand. No point in making them another upset anti.

  13. Armed Citizen November 21, 2013 at 11:07 am #

    Great write up, I hope this can be disseminated far and wide among the firearm community. I will pass this on to my audience. I hope it goes well received.

  14. Josh Lowry November 21, 2013 at 11:09 am #

    I would first like to thank the author of the article for taking his time to write it. There is a lot of excellent information in it weather you agree or disagree. I totally agree with him on open carry i choose to open carry and know that i may be stopped and questioned by police and am prepared to do what ever they ask. I have watched many videos on youtube where people are confronted by cops and get this my right attitude and i am not giving you any info frankly i think that is wrong. I dont agree with open carry of a rifle or shotgun a pistol is all that is needed if you want to defend yourself. Like i said before i Do open carry and am mindfull of where i am going if there is a sign that says no guns then i leave it in the truck or dont go to that place. i am also waiting for my CCW permit so that i wont have to worry about people getting nervous. Also if someone asks me about open carry i dont blow them off i answer all there questions and let them know the laws it is there right to carry or not to but i do tell them they need to be trained with a gun to be safe with it.

  15. keystoneclimber November 21, 2013 at 12:25 pm #

    “You can be the most patriotic, law abiding citizen that good parenting and proper education has ever produced but as LEOs, we have no way of knowing that and we don’t make a habit of taking someone’s word for it without supporting facts.”

    You hit the nail right on the head here. What you just described is precisely the root of the problem that is plaguing our country today. A citizens rights, time, convenience and safety fall secondary to fulfilling the uncertainty in an LEO’s mind. Currently, they believe it is within their ability to hold every US citizen at gunpoint until they know every little detail about their past. You cannot detain every leather wearing longhair with tattoos until you determine that they aren’t a member of a motorcycle gang. You cannot detain every turban wearing Arab until you determine that they aren’t a terrorist. How Does it make the job more unknown, intimidating and difficult? Sure, but LEOs signed up for it. That’s the nature of the job. They bought he ticket, they can take the ride.

    When you are stopped simply for open carrying, it is a violation of your rights. You cannot lawfully be stopped unless an officer has a reasonable, articulate suspicion that a crime has been committed by your person. The first thing you ask is “why am I being detained” and “do you have suspicion that a crime has been committed”. If an officer responds with “I don’t know if you are lawfully allowed to possess a firearm” and decides that they need to “run a check to see if you are clear” it is neither grounds for your detainment, nor grounds to waste your time. Not consenting to a violation of your rights does not mean you are being “difficult” or a “wise guy” or a “wannabe lawyer” nor are you “giving the officer a hard time”. You are simply asserting that your time is more valuable that an LEO’s insight.

    In this country we are innocent until proven guilty. Unfortunately, there exists no retribution for wrongful arrest let alone wrongful detainment. An LEO must have an articulate suspicion that you are lawfully prohibited from possessing a firearm or have committed a crime to detain you. This is, by far, the most abused scenario by law enforcement officers today. Their purpose is to arrest those who have committed a crime, not prevent crime from occurring. Outside of Hollywood, there is no such concept as a pre-crime in this world. Our rights, time, and conveniences do not fall secondary to those whom we pay to serve us. We do not exist simply to make their daily routine easier. This is a concept that really needs to gain some teeth in today’s society. There is nothing more invasive, and destructive to our rights and freedoms then the idea that we have an obligation to prevent crime from occurring. Almost every invasive law on the books today stems from this idea.

  16. Stephen November 21, 2013 at 1:55 pm #

    I too support your argument. My only advise to everyone would be to take the next step and go for the CCDW permit. In KY, we are lucky that it’s easy and a straight forward process. And as much as showing no ill-will or bad intentions during a conversation with a LEO while open carrying. It’s my opinion that a LEO will respect a person who has gone through the CCDW class and possess the CCDW permit infinately more than a misinformed person with an AR slung across them holding a copy of 2A on the steps of city hall. While my example is extreme the folks who open carry seem only to know how to go the brink of “legal rights” for the sake of legal rights. This does nothing but feed the 2A hate machine and portray responsible gun owners as reckless and stupid. This convo should be had more.

  17. Lee Sutterlin November 21, 2013 at 4:10 pm #

    Good article, my only issue is this. There is something wrong with our societies mindset when ANYONE believes it is OK to charge or sue an individual due to the actions of another, shifting blame away from the guilty party. If a criminal manages to take my firearm and cause damage with it, it is the criminals actions that were wrong, he took my weapon and he committed a crime and the guilt and punishment are his and his alone. The logic in saying I did something wrong, is no different than saying that LEOs are responceable for every crime they fail to stop and should be charged and sued for their part in not stopping crime. The best action to take would be to strip all lawyers of citizenship and deport them, for a start, followed by a return to the Common Law this country was founded upon.

  18. Mike November 21, 2013 at 4:16 pm #

    I find this part hard to believe:

    ” I think it’s also important to note that officers self-initiating contact with someone openly carrying a firearm has prevented crimes in the past and does so regularly.”

    • Julian November 22, 2013 at 1:26 pm #

      Not everyone who carries is a good guy. Bad guys have to carry their guns to and from the crime scene. They don’t magically appear onscene.

  19. Hec November 21, 2013 at 5:34 pm #

    Great article well written and whenever we give classes here in Illinois we always stress that the class is just the start and weapon skills are a perishable skill that continually needs honing.

  20. Shannon Oleson November 21, 2013 at 6:27 pm #

    Excellent article and I agree with it totally. I had LEO’s called cuz my pistol showed under my shirt. I complied with everything asked of me and gave/received respect. By the end we were talking gun preference and laughing.

  21. Gary Griffiths November 21, 2013 at 8:30 pm #

    FWIW, I’m a retired Federal Criminal Investigator and instructor of judgmental use of force and gunfighting tactics. I always carry my weapon concealed unless I’m in the field hunting or on a range. I agree completely with Mr. Cowan’s article. The only purpose for carrying a weapon openly for protection should be if one doesn’t wish to (or can’t) obtain a concealed weapons permit. Carrying to make a political statement is often perceived as rude, in-your-face, thuggish behavior. It does nothing to foster good will for gun-rights advocates among the general public, and, as Mr. Cowan points out, can easily be manipulated by the anti press to appear ominous or threatening. The term “useful idiots” comes to mind when I saw the pictures of the Texas Open Carry people in Dallas recently. They were set up perfectly by an experienced anti rabble-rouser, and apparently still don’t realize how their actions set back the gun rights movement.

    • Tim November 23, 2013 at 12:25 am #

      Yes sir! The second paragraph on morality is the key; then the press and those opposed to the second amendment won’t have a leg to stand on. Weapons as a moral subject, to protect yourself and others, are often times touted but rarely is the moral character of those who carry either in the open or concealed addressed.

  22. Gabe L November 22, 2013 at 12:39 am #

    Hell yeah, excellent article. I don’t carry to scare soccer moms or to test the knowledge of LEOs… my concealed handgun is a defensive weapon exclusively. I have great deal of respect for law enforcement, but why would I intentionally put myself in a position to be questioned by police while carrying a loaded firearm on my person? I’d rather avoid that contact and go about my business discreetly.

    If the cop standing in the 7-11 can’t see my Glock, neither can the violent criminal who would otherwise make a grab at it.

  23. Clint November 22, 2013 at 1:41 am #

    Well written article! As I read this, I kept on thinking of various training that can and should be taken. Sure, the usual range time is expected…know your gun as well as (or better than) you know your spouse!

    I have a friend in Phoenix who teaches a course he has called “Gun-Fu”, which incorporates self defense in various situations to include either party being armed. “Active Self Protection” is what he calls it and it sums it up well, as it incorporates more than just firearms, even though the firearm is the force multiplier that usually allows the bearer to be the winner. I think there needs to be more self defense courses available, like his, whether you open or conceal carry.

    Having experience in martial arts, and currently military, I do have skills to defend myself from someone. With that said, I’m not going to be lose my best offensive tool: surprise. I still conceal carry because the element of surprise is so important when going into a fight.

    Keep your sidearm hidden (where legal) and keep your head on a swivel!

  24. Pups November 22, 2013 at 8:19 am #

    I appreciate the time and thought that went into this post. Very much so. Totally agreeable. There is one point I didn’t think was covered well enough: all those places where, when an officer asks to see your I.D., you are required by law to produce it.

    I guess I have never shared the sense of “violation” in an officer asking to see my I.D. and, in my state, my permit. In the two states I have lived, that’s explicit in the law, driving, hunting, carrying concealed or anything else: you shall show your I.D. upon request by a peace officer.

    I have never thought of it as anything different from showing my hunting license on request by a DNR officer. But… in my states, there is a set of rules for compliance. And naturally, wherever there rules for compliance,courts have often ruled that an accompanying process of verification is not a violation of your rights. As a teacher, by analogy, I know that school’s may *not* search a locker if they suspect a violation (guns, drugs, bomb components) without the student present and a witness. In most cases, parents have to be notified. But… a locker “inspection” is a simple verification of compliance. Are you or aren’t you allowed to be doing what you are doing?

    If the officer isn’t repeatedly tapping on John Smith’s shoulder every time he sees John Smith open carrying, singling him out, harassing him, but routinely asks to see I.D. if people report an open carry person acting out-of-ordinary (like the guys on Youtube who march up and down a sidewalk with a longarm), why do we have a problem with that?

    If my taillight is out, the officer doesn’t always just pull me over and say, “Your taillight’s out.” He asks to see my driver’s license and gives me a fixit ticket.

    I have a white beard and gray hair. I’m wrinkling. Yet when the guy in the bar asks to see my I.D., I don’t talk about my rights being violated. I just produce it.

    The lady at the checkout counter actually *cannot* ask to see my I.D. But some store’s routinely have their clerks ask for it, and people produce it, usually without any argument. They just want it to go smoothly, take as little time as possible, and move on where they’re going. The misguided among us actually write “Ask to see my ID” on their credit cards. Eh. Dumb. And if they don’t sign their card it isn’t valid for use. But oh well.

    Then all the sudden here we are with open carry people refusing to show I.D. as a violation of their rights.

    I think if that’s their big “cause,” if that’s their top political agenda, to defend themselves against having to show “law enforcement” an I.D., they’ve got nothing else to do this afternoon but try to make that point, then life must be pretty going pretty well for them,.

    The government issued you an I.D. Why protest having to show it to an enforcement agent on request? (Why have an I.D. in the first place, then? Maybe only known criminals should have I.D.s? That would make things easier, wouldn’t it.)

    That’s the part I don’t get. I don’t see anyone burning the Bill of Rights in front of me because a law enforcement officer asked to see my I.D.


  25. Albee November 22, 2013 at 9:44 am #

    I have more respect for Mr.Cowen for taking the time to give me a clear view of what a LEO sees in the field. I talk to my LEO friends but never asked about how they feel about the average armed citizen. This a real life subject that between the need to fight against rights beings threatened vs the on duty officer feeling threatened it’s a bad brew of mixed messages. Compliance is needed all around. Thank you Brandon and Mr. Cowen for this powerful piece.

  26. Paul November 22, 2013 at 10:27 am #

    I notice that he doesn’t support open carry as a political statement… Everything you do is a political statement just depends how you look at it. Now as far a enticing a law enforcement officer the outcome of this situation basically is controlled by the officer. If he knows the laws and follows them and doesn’t try to overstep his authority usually the encounter will be a positive one. Now when the officer believes his word is god and has no idea what the law is that’s when the encounter becomes a negative one.

  27. Steven November 22, 2013 at 11:20 am #

    As a retired Army Infantry officer and having spent 12 years as a LEO in two states I agree with the author, his article is well written and expresses many of my same feelings. I live in an open carry state and think it is good, but it does have its place. At the range, out hunting, with the guys, open carry is fine. Carrying an AR-15 downtown in a large city is not. Sure, its your legal right, but what is the purpose, a confrontation with the police? As a LEO, if a citizen complains, I have to check on the complaint. Be advised, it will happen, and, depending on your attitude and the cops, you may not like it. Time and time again I heard, “Why don’t you go after real criminals instead of us folks running stop signs?” If I, as LEO, do not know you, I do have the authority to stop and check your ID to make sure you, in fact, do have the legal right to carry. Check your local papers to see how many ex-felons are caught illegally carrying. Many people take great time and effort to finding laws that many have never heard of and use them to cause confrontations, to what ends? To show their smarter then the cop? know the law better? If that’s the case, how many here know its illegal to whistle underwater in Vermont or lasso fish in Kentucky? You might be right, have you accomplished anything? You may have. Now that cop, instead of maybe giving some one the benefit of the doubt, won’t. Remember, they have access to the same law books you do. Want them to find some of those silly laws, like in Colorado where a dust cloth must be boiled within 12 hours of use. And, more often then not, open carry in the wrong place only solidifies the Piers Morgans of the world, and, unfortunately, he has access to a much wider audience.

  28. Julian November 22, 2013 at 1:45 pm #

    An excellent article. In my humble opinion, I would like to see more open carry in regular life so that when I choose to carry (as opposed to leaving in the car) to the local gas station/ supermarket etc. on my way to the creek, I don’t get strange and/or hostile looks. I am also LE/Military and have no problem with someone open carrying as long as they don’t start acting stupid or confrontational. Carrying for political reasons and then becoming confrontational with LE is foolish. We constantly deal with dirtbags and have to assume everyone to be a threat until proven otherwise. When someone is immediately confrontational and armed, I may have to repress the urge to bounce his head off the deck. The cop is just doing his job, we are not in a police state (yet) we must assume that all cops are on our side initially and treat them with due respect. Remember LE exists to keep peace and enforce law not seize guns and harass the citizenry.

  29. hwl6969 November 22, 2013 at 2:39 pm #

    A fantastic article. Some open carry people are just too blatant about their rights. I believe that you should take the classes, get the licenses, but also understand that almost everyone around seems to be looking at you with a walking video camera just waiting for us to make some mistake. I also think that police should share their classes with the public. It is so expensive to keep up with all the training that we should have. Training is the NUMBER ONE thing that we must understand that makes us safer for ourselves and others. I carry concealed and am proud that I can. I also do this to protect myself and my family. Just remember people, we don’t live in the gunsmoke era. Mat Dillon won’t come to the rescue if someone tries to hurt you or break into your homes. We must understand that it’s up to us, the police get there just in time to take fingerprints, and make reports most of the time. Nothing against them, just too many of us an too much area for them to cover.

  30. MKEgal November 22, 2013 at 4:34 pm #

    “A simple stop and talk is all that is needed and both parties can be on their way.”

    How many times per day is this stop & talk “needed”?
    How long does the chat take? 10 minutes? 5?
    How many different officers does a citizen have to put up with? Or would the first officer give them some sort of signal to show that they’ve already been checked for the day, so nobody else interferes with them the rest of the day?

    What is the RAS of a crime (which you need in order to compel a citizen to interrupt their day & deal with you)?
    If it’s legal to carry openly, that’s not it.
    If they’re not in a school zone, that’s not it.
    Simply exercising a Constitutionally-protected right certainly isn’t a crime.

    What other right is that sort of thing (stop & talk, prove you’re not a criminal) accepted for?
    It’s not needed.
    Most of the time the ‘problem’ can be resolved by looking at the LAC, seeing that they’re going about their business just like everyone else, writing the report, and going away.

    But I agree that we should all be on our best behaviour and represent well (whether it’s the average LAC or an officer representing the department & gov’t).

  31. Ken Soderstrom November 23, 2013 at 12:52 am #

    “…The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

    In my state concealed carry is restricted by the state constitution. What do you expect a law-abiding citizen to do?

    Ask the state for permission?

    Frickin’ fools…

    Get over yourselves.

    The only thing that matters is carrying a firearm, responsibly and legally. In my state the only option without special permission is open carry. Every one of us should do this everywhere and as often as possible.

    This is what decreases violence. This is what redeems the Second Amendment’s promise that armed citizens are “necessary to the security of a free state”.

    • Brandon November 23, 2013 at 3:54 pm #

      Who are you calling fools?

  32. Randy November 23, 2013 at 5:56 am #

    Great read sir and thank you for your service. I live in an open carry state (as of now…VA just elected an anti gun nut job backed by Bloomberg), and choose CCW because I don’t want nor need attention from bad guys/liberals or a LEO having a crappy day. Training should be more of a priority for the majority of firearms users…I need to train more myself. Just wish I could afford to take all the different classes but I do try too learn and train as much as possible. Thank you once again 🙂

  33. Albee November 23, 2013 at 3:58 pm #

    This has to be one of your best post ever.

  34. Dr. L. November 23, 2013 at 10:59 pm #

    “Comments will be kept civil. If you want to disagree or argue a point, please feel free, but if you cannot do so without ad hominems or other window licking behavior, your comment will be removed. ”

    Thank you Brandon.

  35. Trace Keene-Latham November 24, 2013 at 11:57 pm #

    I agree 100% with the post. It drives me nuts to see people open carrying seemingly for the express purpose of rubbing people’s faces in it and trying to get a rise out of them.

    In any event, I have a concealed carry permit for a reason, and I never open carry. I’m a 5’4″ female who weighs 93 pounds soaking wet…my firearm is my one advantage if anyone should ever attempt to harm myself or my daughter, why on earth would I want a potential attacker to know about that advantage so that they can attempt to disarm me?

  36. Wake up you jock worshipping sheep November 25, 2013 at 7:03 am #

    Why is his opinion relevant to us? Its laced with negativity and condescension. Not all of us can buy our politicians with a check or envelope of cash therefore doing things for political leverage and awareness are our only options unless we just want to whine on the internet.

    His ending with this doosie takes the cake – ” If we argue amongst ourselves every time a new trolling video or bad LE contact video goes viral, we risk further divides in the largest active pro-rights community in the US.”

    Is he REALLY referring to the cops as part of the largest pro rights community? Insert throw up gif Most every cop I ever encountered that I did not already know before hand conducted themselves as an arrogant douche. Especially the ones at the gun buy backs. How about this? Next time one of your fellow officers is violating someone’s rights how about you floor them, cuff them, and put up that video instead of trying to leverage your position as some sort of authority of how we should beg for our rights or turn a blind eye when your boys get caught with their integrity down. Screw you.

    • Brandon November 25, 2013 at 10:39 am #

      I think his opinion is more relevant than yours, since you didn’t even understand what he was saying.

      “Is he REALLY referring to the cops as part of the largest pro rights community?”

      The community he’s referring to is the collective firearms/pro-2A community, of which yes, police officers are a part of. You hate cops, I get it, but what you need to realize is that most cops are good people doing a hard job the best that they know how. Are there bad cops out there? Absolutely, but lumping all cops into the same category because of your hate isn’t fair or accurate.

      • The Dave Black November 26, 2013 at 4:15 am #

        I disagree. I don’t think most cops are good. Hard working? yes. have a hard job? yes. Law enforcement officers so called because you are supposed to enforce laws, even if that means enforcing it on other cops. The problem I have with cops in general (no one specifically) is that you can’t call a vast majority of cops good if there is such a pervasive problem of bad cops. If I saw cops getting convicted and punished for crimes in the viral videos of bad cop encounters it would be one thing. I just don’t buy into the premise that you are good by virtue of the fact you haven’t done bad things. If you allow your fellow officers to get away with their crimes you can’t call yourself or any of your peers good… you are just “not bad” I am not saying there aren’t good cops out there. There are. But what I am saying is they are few. What it takes to be a good cop is to confront and enforce the laws equally on the bad cops. I recognize how hard that is to do. But then when has ever doing the right thing ever been easy?

        The Article was great I agree with it.

        • Brandon November 26, 2013 at 8:45 am #


          Well I guess we’re both acting on anecdotal evidence and we’ll have to disagree. I try not to base my opinion of law enforcement on the cops that make the news, but rather the dozens and dozens of cops that I’ve met over the years, many long before Monderno. Some are my friends, some have no clue who I am, but most have struck me as honest, good folks.

          At any rate, thank you for disagreeing and making your point in civilly, I wish more could disagree and argue their point the same way.

        • Eric November 26, 2013 at 9:59 am #

          One thing I’ve learned in my life is you can’t make this type of generalization based on media presentation. From viral videos, many edited for effect so we never see the whole situation from beginning to end, you infer there are lots of bad cops getting away with it. But we don’t really have all the facts. We also probably will not get to see what happens in the end to the truly bad eggs an on line video. That holds no sensationalism.

          I’ve known my share of LEO’s over the years (I’m old enough to qualify for some discounts now) and they ran the range from arrogant to excellent. I’ll say I’ve never met one that was actually breaking the law. In any group of people the extremes at both ends are the rarity and the bulk are average OK people. I would have to say that are all too often stuck in the middle of a situation in which someone is going to be ticked off and accusing them of something.

          In my book if you are not a crook, a jerk, a malingerer or a power freak you’re one of the good guys and that’s where the bulk of the LEO’s I’ve known have been. Yup, the bad ones are there and yes, sometimes the union and others cover them just as they will in many, many other professions. That’s the world unfortunately.

          But no matter what the source I view any online content any more with skepticism unless it’s verified independently by a dependable source. People from all over the spectrum cherry pick how they present things to the point of outright misrepresentation.

          Just my two bits I guess!

  37. Matt Hayse (@MAKARFAL) November 26, 2013 at 2:43 pm #

    To me, it’s very much a regional thing, some places people don’t look at you twice if you have a gun on your hip, other places people are going to freak out and call the police.
    In Indiana I can carry openly, but rarely do for the simple reason that in so doing, you are painting a great big target on you back. Not only for overenthusiastic LEOs but for any thug who walks up behind you in line at a convenience store. Or just as bad, some whacko crusader for the left who decides to cause trouble for you and call 911 and tell them you are carrying a gun and acting strangely, or in a threatening manner. Care to guess how the cops are going to react in the latter situation?
    About the only time I carry openly is when I go ATV riding. The place I most commonly ride has a bunch of black bears and rattlesnakes, not to mention that it’s not hard to get a long way from help on an ATV. So I carry a heavy revolver openly, so does everyone else. You can go to the gas station or into a restaurant and half the people in the place are packing, no one thinks anything of it. The assumption is you have been up on the mountain riding. But what people in Evarts, Ky are accustomed to, and take for granted would probably set off a panic in Louisville 150 miles away.
    In brief my point is that there is rarely a good reason for me to carry openly, and a number of good reasons to avoid it.