I’m no fan of open carry. I love the fact that we have open carry laws, because, you know … freedom. But I do not believe open carry to be an effective deterrent to crime. Furthermore, I believe that open carry puts the open carrier at undue risk and may, in some rare cases, actually prompt the commission of a crime when no crime would otherwise occur.

Let me explain.

Carrying a gun fully exposed to the world simply means that you are giving someone with bad intent the opportunity to develop a plan of attack. If a criminal sees your gun, that criminal will very likely begin planning how to take your gun. This taking could be done through sudden violent assault or surreptitious approach that ends in a gun grab and immediate flight. Yes, all of you who carry openly will argue that a good retention holster and good situational awareness will keep you and your gun protected. I will state here and now that no one’s situational awareness is so good that he or she may not be caught off guard at some point.

If you wish to test this, I invite you to the next USCCA Concealed Carry Expo, April 13-15, 2018, in Louisville, KY. You let me know you will be at the expo carrying openly and if I can approach you and touch your head, I get to keep your gun. Deal? I mean, really, if you are betting your life on open carry, you could bet your gun, right?

Your firearm does not intimidate real, hardcore criminals. Anyone who has been to prison knows that the element of surprise and violence of action are the keys to winning a physical encounter. To that end, criminals have become very good at concealing their true motives until they are in position to strike. Very few of us think like criminals. That gives criminals an advantage as they plan their crimes. If you have a gun hanging on your hip for the world to see, you might just lose it. Your super-amazing, Level 3, click-tab, flip, twist-lock holster will do very little to protect your pistol if you are wearing what’s left of a beer bottle for a hat.

The first, most important element of weapon retention for the average citizen carrying a gun is concealment. If your gun is concealed, you come under no additional scrutiny. No one is looking at you thinking about how to take your gun away because no one knows you have a gun.

Massad Ayoob says, “A concealed handgun gives the criminal maximum opportunity to make a fatal error in the victim-selection process.”

He is right. The fact that you have a gun should come as a surprise to everyone — especially the criminal. Our goal is not to stand out. Our goal is to employ force, or the threat of force, only as a last resort in the face of an imminent deadly threat. Open carry does not give you any advantage. On the contrary, it puts you at a steep disadvantage.

Again, I love the freedom open carry provides, but I’m not going to put myself at risk just to make statement.