Open Carry, Yes or No?
Written By: Damian Leger
Whether To Open Carry
Whether or not to open carry is a personal preference, not a debate. Or at least not one that will be settled here or anytime soon. 24 states allow open carry without any permit or license, 15 states have open carry with restrictions, and 4 states have anomalous laws, and 7 states & the District of Columbia (DC) prohibit open carry all together.
My home state of Louisiana is an open carry state. Any U.S. citizen 21 years old or over, who is NOT prohibited from legally owning a firearm may open carry a handgun (18 for long guns) anywhere EXCEPT the 11 areas listed by the state police as being restricted (www.lsp.org/handguns)(www.laopencarry.org/faq.shtml). Louisiana has pre-emption law which means no municipality or local governing body may enact any stricter gun law than the state does.
If You Open Carry
If you are going to open carry, you need to accept the fact that you will at some point have interactions with law enforcement (LEO’s), depending upon how you conduct yourself and the type of people you encounter, and when & where you do carry. I have open carried numerous places and have never been stopped or even questioned, however your results may vary.
Open carry presents some challenges because some folks have an absolute and irrational fear of guns. If you fidget with your sidearm constantly or have the habit of resting your hand on it, you WILL attract unwanted attention and or cause some to panic. As long as you avoid these habits, present yourself in a safe, cordial, and non-threatening manner, you should have few if any incidents.
U.S. Supreme Court decision, U.S. vs DeBerry, states that the open carry of a firearm is NOT sufficient probable cause for LEO’s to initiate a stop or detain anyone. This DOES NOT mean that all LEO’s know the law. Be advised & tread carefully. Louisiana 2nd amendment protections are some of the strongest in the country and no less than 3 separate LA Attorney General Opinions also validate our open carry, and the findings of U.S. vs DeBerry.
However just because you can does not always mean you should. I would never tell anyone they cannot open carry. Personally I usually recommend concealed carry. The simple reason is, that the first clue I want someone who is planning evil against you to have, that you DO have a gun, is when they are looking down the business end of it. Then YOU are in control, and far better you be in control than the bad guy(s). Another reason, especially for females, is that a male attacker will most often assume he can take her gun away and may very well try. Hence, see reason #1.
Open Carry: Practice Makes Perfect
Should you have one in the chamber? For safety reasons in most non-high-threat environments I do not. I practice racking on every draw, something I do several dozen times a week. And before all the keyboard commandos who have never been in a gunfight or any lethal encounter chime in or the Grandmasters of Gun-Fu get mad, this is MY personal choice to minimize chances of an ND (negligent discharge) and IF someone were to get my sidearm away from me it would be very difficult to shoot me with my own gun, before I can use other methods to neutralize the threat.
Zealots of either stripe, pro or anti-gun have a right to their beliefs. Our veterans paid, and continue to pay the price for that freedom. Pro-gun folk should reach out to those who rabidly fear firearms and help them overcome it with education. Anti-gun folk should respect the constitution and the gift of freedom enough to at least sit down with highly trained, professionally qualified subject matter experts, and listen with an open mind. Remember, the 2nd Amendment protects all the others, and without it, none of the rest of them matters. Be safe, and train hard. You need more practice.
Damian Leger is a former Paratrooper of the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division, an NRA certified firearms instructor in Pistol, Rifle, Shotgun, and Personal Protection, a Louisiana State Police registered Concealed Carry Instructor, and is also a Louisiana Hunter Safety Instructor. He is a licensed gun dealer and holds a Type 07 Federal Firearms License (manufacturer), a 2nd degree black belt in Hap-Ki-Do and has instructed in hand-to-hand combat for over 20 years.