When asked about open carry, most real pistoleers will groan a bit.
Open carry conjures up images of an overweight mall ninja in Texas, dressed in surplus Flecktarn camouflage, carrying a “tactical” SKS into a Mexican restaurant. In the court of public opinion, these big eaters cost us a lot.
I’m not an open-carry advocate. Why advertise that you’re armed? Bad guys are going to engage anyone who’s armed first, right? At least that’s the theory.
In my humble opinion, I don’t think openly carrying a handgun makes good tactical sense.
But Sen. Don Gaetz has introduced an open-carry bill, SB 300, which we should support regardless of our tactical concerns, because it makes good political sense.
1. First and foremost, open carry is a constitutional right guaranteed by the Second Amendment — period. It certainly qualifies as “bearing arms.” For that reason alone it deserves strong support.
2. Only five states prohibit open carry: California, Florida, Illinois, New York, and South Carolina. It’s also banned in Washington D.C. Sen. Gaetz’s bill makes sense if only to part company with these ardent anti-gun states.
3. Sen. Gaetz’s bill would require law enforcement officers to have probable cause before making an arrest for alleged unlicensed carry: “a law enforcement officer may arrest a person for the unlicensed carrying of a concealed weapon only upon probable cause that such a violation is being committed.” It would end unlawful detentions and disarmings while police check to see whether someone’s papers are in order. The bill also allows for civil penalties against anyone who infringes on someone’s Second Amendment rights.
4. Open Carry accustoms people to the sight of guns in their community. Anthropologist Charles Springwood, cited by OpenCarry.org, states that open carriers are trying to “naturalize the presence of guns, which means that guns become ordinary, omnipresent, and expected.” Springwood also notes that criminals don’t carry firearms openly, only good guys do.
5. Open Carry is a natural stop, a layover of sorts, on the way to what I hope will be our ultimate destination — “Constitutional Carry” — which would allow all qualified Florida residents to carry firearms without state licenses or permits, either openly or concealed.
Constitutional Carry would stop the state from taking away our Second Amendment rights and then selling them back to us in the form of a permit, which must be renewed. And Open Carry will help get us there.
— If we don’t run into each other at the range, you can reach me at (941) 284-8553, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by regular mail, 1741 Main St., Sarasota, FL 34236. You also can follow me on social media at facebook.com/TheGunWriter or Twitter.com/ht_gunwriter