Six months ago today, I wrote a piece about why I don’t open carry. It’s time to revisit.
On October 14 of last year, when we were all a bunch of sweet summer children who weren’t worried about anything other than maybe getting our flu vaccine, we published an article about open carry versus concealed carry. The gist of it is that although the right to open carry is important and I support it 100%, I’ve generally decided that OC can be a tactical disadvantage. However, there’s a very important exception to that conclusion, and it’s that exception that has me pulling out my Old Bay Crow Seasoning and sprinkling it over the huge plate of crow that I’m about to chow down on.
That exception, of course, is a massive global pandemic that has forced Americans indoors and closed businesses and courthouses everywhere. Although President Trump has been clear in his direction that gun stores are “essential businesses” that should remain open, getting your hands on a firearm is only the first part of the equation. Although state laws (obviously) vary, most states that allow concealed carry do require that one obtain a permit through the court system to do so. There’s just one problem with that, right now:
Fact is, right now the American court system is either on a steeply reduced schedule or shut down completely–and for good reason. The people who process concealed-carry permits are just as susceptible to catching and spreading COVID-19 as anyone else, as is law enforcement. Every contact they make with the general public increases that risk, and we need as few of them to be sick and unable to work at any one time as is possible. It’s totally logical and makes perfect sense, but if you just purchased a handgun for personal protection…well, you have some choices to make.
If you don’t intend to take your gun off of your private property, you generally may legally carry it any way you like. And in the Coronavirus Era, many of us are simply not leaving our private property and this is perfectly sufficient. However, some of us have little choice but to head out into the world in search of milk, eggs, or the White Gold Formerly Known as Toilet Paper. In an ideal world, we’d have already purchased our gun and ammo, trained with it, and received our concealed-carry permits long before a crisis struck. But, as we’re all being reminded of right now, this isn’t an ideal world.
What’s pretty nifty is that in many states, you may legally openly carry a firearm without a permit, as long as your ownership of that gun is legal (e.g., you’re not a felon). And given that the first rule of surviving a gun fight is “have a gun,” open carry is going to be your best way to do that until you can get a concealed-carry permit. There are some key pieces of advice I’d like to impart for anyone considering this perfectly valid method of self-defense, however.
First, a good retention holster is critical! Make sure you have one that fits your firearm properly, is rigid enough to avoid catching on the trigger during a draw or reholster, and is secure enough to withstand an attempt at grabbing at it from an unauthorized person.
Secondly, please consider “the optics.” No, I’m not talking about the delicate snowflake feelings of the people who might see your sidearm…I’m talking about the fact that we are all being asked to wear masks to help prevent cough-droplets from spreading Coronavirus. Some of us were able to get masks before the pandemic really got rolling, but some of us weren’t. If you fall in the latter category, please be aware that wearing a makeshift mask over your nose and mouth while openly carrying a firearm might send the wrong message to everyone…even bona fide gun people. (Wearing a medical-style mask or at least something that doesn’t look like gang colors should help keep people from confusing you with an armed robber.)
Finally, please pass the Old Bay and a glass of water. Eating crow is thirsty work.
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