Sunday, September 20, 2020

Open Carry...or not?

This is definitely an opinion piece today and I've thought a lot about how to say it.

I'm certainly a firm believer in the 2nd Amendment.  The idea of open carry is laudable and I'm glad to see states and cities allowing open carry.  That said, I have some observations.

First, "war story time".  And also, I'm aware that my opinions are colored by the fact that I'm an "old guy" and not as well informed about the equipment of today as I probably should be.

During my time in Law Enforcement, I was often in critical situations where the threat of deadly violence was imminent.  More than once, my partner or backup got out the shotgun in case things went really bad.  When that cloud of tension is in the air and lead could fly at any moment, the thought that one of us was armed with a more devastating weapon than a handgun was comforting.  But, when the situation de-escalates into a fistfight:  when I am rolling around in the mud with some drugged out scumball, trying desperately to get the cuffs on partner with the shotgun was useless.  It's a clumsy club and you can't just lay it down or put it back in your holster.  Run back to the car, secure the shotgun and then run back to help me on the ground.  By then, I'm done, one way or the other.

The same thing can apply to an open carry situation.  Let's do a hypothetical here.  Let's say a couple of friends and I are helping our community in one of these riots by standing between looters and community businesses.  My friend is open carrying his AR.  I am armed with nothing more than bear spray or maybe my old PR24 and unarmed Antifa scum presses forward, forcing me into hand to hand fighting.  What good is my backup guy?  I've got three or four unarmed black-clad guys trying to punch and kick me and I'm trying to fight back.  Deadly force may be justified but also maybe not.  Fine line/grey area.  Does my partner use that AR against some unarmed "peaceful protesters"?  Ever hear of  George Zimmerman?

If he was carrying a concealed handgun, in a secured holster, then he could jump in and help me.  He'd still have to be aware of any attempt to take his weapon but it's much less likely than if he had to wrestle with some guys over that long gun.

That brings up holsters.  If you must open carry, maybe it would be smarter to use a more secure holster.  One of those open top, friction retention holsters looks pretty neat and is great in a competition on the range but may not be the best choice for just carrying.  Something that covers more of the weapon and has some security retention is possibly a better choice?

This article had a lot of good information.

Long ago, at Lowry Air Force Base, I backed up another patrol on a traffic stop.  Just as I arrived, the situation "went south" and we were in a fight...Rick with the driver and me with the passenger.  Neither

of us had time to radio for help so it was just us and them.  Actually, I wound up unable to call for help because I'd broken my radio on my suspects head.  Got 'im cuffed though and ran around the car to help Rick.  I found a civilian holding Rick's weapon while Rick finished up handcuffing the original suspect.  You can imagine the tension there for a moment as I confronted the guy with Rick's gun.  But (the point of the story) it turned out that his holster had come undone and the weapon went clattering along the street!  This guy had stopped to see if he could help and Rick had asked him to find the weapon and get it out of harms way.  Holster quality was a big part of the issue.

I carried a handgun everywhere I went for many years.  I remember only once in my career that I took it out of the holster when I was off-duty.  There were several situations in that time period where I had hold of it and was prepared to draw but never did.  Thanks to God, I never had to fire my weapon, either on or off duty.

I did, however, have to fight many times over the years.  From as mild as a quick wristlock-to-handcuff scuffle to a biting, punching, rolling in the mud life and death fight.  Handcuffs, pepper spray and my PR24 all got  their share of use. 

When the lead is in the air, I want an AR or a shotgun.  If the situation could go either way and the need for a firearm hasn't arisen,  I want my hands free and any weapon I might have to be secure.  

In conclusion, I am not a big fan of open carry, even of a handgun.  Keeping it out of sight and out of mind until it's needed is the way I would want to do it.  Those who disagree, for whatever reason; well, that's what freedom is all about.  You do your thing and I'll do mine.  But, if you are carrying openly, be aware that your potential opponents are as conscious of your weapon as you and some of them would like to take it from you.