This is a guest post from Michael Denmon. Michael is a Dad who is working on being a better man, one project at a time. Catch up with his latest attempts at Dad Level Viking.
Buying a firearm for protecting yourself and your loved ones inside your home is a key step in taking control of being able to protect yourself in the event no one else is there to help. But maybe you are concerned about protection outside of the home. You feel pretty certain about the legalities of home use of a firearm but taking it outside your front door can be worrying. Your worst fear may be that you either open or conceal carry and run afoul of local laws or regulations and end up in trouble. Or perhaps your fear is that you choose a method of carry that is wrong for your own needs and purposes of carrying because you lack the experience to know what is best for you. Those fears are understandable because you are carrying an implement that has heady consequences if used and you need to know all sides of your responsibility for safe carry. That’s why I am here to explain a few reasons on why either method may be best for you.
Follow Local Laws
First and foremost, your ability to utilize either method of carry is limited by the local laws and regulations where you will be carrying. You will need to know where you plan to carry and what those local laws and regulations may be so you can safely and legally carry your firearm outside of your home. This is where speaking with local law enforcement or gun dealers can be useful as they will have a pretty firm understanding of what you must adhere to. However, I highly recommend seeking out a gun rights advocate in your area who is up to date on all current laws and regulations. This should give you enough of a background on what you can and cannot do. You want to stay legal and be assured of your right to carry however you choose. Ultimately your actions are your responsibility, so you want to be as informed as possible.
Another thing to consider in the open versus concealed carry decision is the comfort level of others. While it may be your right to carry a gun, there are many people who may feel uncomfortable with someone carrying a weapon in public. That doesn’t mean that their comfort should take priority over your own, but consideration of this fact should be given and factored into your choice. An open carry proponent may make people uncomfortable with a firearm being out in public. However, if an average citizen sees someone carrying a firearm in a concealed fashion, they may immediately jump to conclusions, none of them good. In either case, nervous people tend to use their emotions to guide their reactions, and this could potentially cause a negative experience for you. Empathy toward the concerns of others is key in keeping a level head when confronted because you are carrying an implement of potential deadly force, and the onus will be on you to try and de-escalate any disturbance as much as possible.
Additionally, there are many different types of firearms you can open carry, and fewer that you can carry in a concealed manner. If you already own the weapon you want to carry outside of your home, then you may very well already be limited to one style or the other. For instance, if we are discussing the open carry of a long barrel weapon, then you are pretty much eliminated from being able to conceal carry. You need to make sure that no matter what weapon you choose to carry — either open or concealed — is fit for such a method. You want to be comfortable carrying the weapon in either manner, and that includes handling it easily and securely (which also means safely). These factors should all be given ample consideration when making your choice.
The biggest point of contention in deciding if you want to carry a firearm in open view or out of sight is what your choice tells a potential threat. Many believe that if you open carry, you are actively deterring someone from trying to hurt you or others because they know without a doubt that you carry the capability of applying lethal force. Some detractors from open carry methods believe that this open view makes you a detectable target and could cause you to most likely be taken by surprise because of your being armed. Carrying a weapon in a concealed position may prevent you from being detected as a protector, but that may encourage a bad actor to make a move to try and hurt you or someone else. In turn, having your weapon concealed could possibly mean that the threat is not expecting you to defend yourself, providing you with the upper hand should an attack occur. Both scenarios carry weight and require consideration in adherence with your own capability to use a firearm should the need arise.
There are many pros for carrying concealed weapons or utilizing open carry to protect yourself and those you care about when outside of your home. The good news is that you have already made the choice to protect yourself and others, and you have committed to being a proficient and safety minded gun owner. The rest is simply a matter of choosing which method of carry works for you in the environments you find yourself in, whether that means carrying your firearm in plain sight or concealing your ability to provide protection for yourself or others through potentially lethal force. Choose wisely and choose with confidence and you will have made the right choice.