To Open Carry or Not To Open CarryThere is an endless debate in this country regarding the right to carry a weapon, whether it is openly or concealed.  I carry a handgun, sometimes openly and sometimes concealed.  No, I am not a LEO.  For what it is worth, I am a Navy veteran who did some babysitting of hydrogen bombs during the Cold War.  In comparison, I consider a .44 magnum to be a pea-shooter.

 First of all, I don’t always open carry.  Many times I carry concealed using my Virginia Concealed Handgun Permit (CHP).  A number of factors come into play in my decision of whether to open carry, concealed carry, or not carry at all.

Just to let you know, open carry is legal in Virginia with no permit required.  I have mixed feelings about this.  I believe that law-abiding citizens should be able to open carry, but I am a big proponent of training.  Even though I was active-duty military when I had my first pistol at home, I read up on the law of the land.  Just because you own a car, it doesn’t mean that you know how to drive it; the same applies to firearms.

I highly recommend the Virginia (or insert the name of your state here) Gun Owners’ Guide.  This series of publications sets out the law in your state and its practical application.  This means shoot/no shoot situations, prohibited areas, procedures for getting a CHP/CCW, etc.

I didn’t stop there.  Being Catholic, I read Pope John Paul II’s Evangelium Vitae on the Value and Inviolability of Human Life.  This helped to shape my purpose for carrying a weapon.  Just as the purpose of a police officer’s weapon is to preserve the life of innocents and the officer him/herself, my weapon is dedicated to saving me, my family, and the guy next to me.  My reading of the papal encyclical told me that force in the defense of life is not only permitted, but expected of those whose duty it is to protect others.  Along those lines, I reasoned that even when the term of my enlistment ended, my oath to protect and defend the Constitution would only expire when I did.

Before strapping on my weapon, I know its status – loaded, with a full magazine and one in the pipe, safety on.  I know how to down-load my weapon safely… I can also field strip my weapon one-handed and blindfolded.  None of this should be extraordinary for anyone who carries.

When I open carry, it is for the deterrent effect.  There have been times that I know the obvious presence of a defensive weapon prevented a crime from happening.  On one occasion, I had good reason to believe that I was about to be mugged in a parking lot, until the other guy saw my weapon.  Suddenly, he realized that he had an urgent appointment across town.  Bottom line, if I think there may be someone where I’m going who needs gentle persuasion not to do anything stupid, I open carry.

I often carry concealed because I don’t want to draw attention to myself or cause others alarm.  I used to be more relaxed about carrying out in the open, but I’ve learned to be a little more considerate of those who are just afraid of guns… even the ones that you LEOs are wearing.  When in a new area, it is sometimes better to carry concealed if you don’t want to draw attention to yourself.

The bottom line is that a citizen’s decision to open carry, concealed carry, or not carry is a personal decision.  It is best if that person has his or her mind wrapped around the responsibility that goes with it and are trained to know when and how to use it.

People who have an agenda designed to give law enforcement a “double-eye poke” by obnoxiously displaying weaponry do not have their mind wrapped around their responsibility.  They’re just anti-social jerks.  There are those I want to feel uncomfortable around me… the perps.  Then there are those I want to feel safe and comfortable in my company… LEOs are at the head of that list.  You guys have it tough enough as it is.

Bruce Bremer, MBA is LET’s technology contributor. Bruce retired from the Submarine Service after 21 years of in-depth experience with complex electronic technology. Since then, he has been involved in fleet modernization and military research analysis. He teaches electronics and alternative energy at a Virginia college. Besides his MBA, Bruce earned a Bachelor of Science degree in computer networking. He has been volunteering in public safety for many years.

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