I’ve long considered Bearing Arms editor Bob Owens one of the best gun writers in the business.
He’s always had a steady hand, and his stories inform rather than alarm.
Still, Bob set off a bit of a firestorm with a story he posted last week: “Is Being Anti-Open Carry Anti-Second Amendment?”
In my humble opinion, it is. You either support the Second Amendment or you don’t. And Open Carry clearly qualifies as bearing arms. However, this is not the point of this story.
In his article, Bob claims to have acquired some ugly statistics about most urban and suburban open carriers. They buy cheap handguns, which they then carry in cheap holsters and — this is the most troubling part — they lack any type of weapon retention training or skills.
This needs to change, but first a bit of history.
In Florida, we currently lack the legal right to open carry, thanks to the Florida Sheriffs Association’s pick for “2016 Legislator of the Year” — Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami.
DLP, as he’s known, has consistently and single-handedly killed open-carry legislation every time it’s come before his Senate Judiciary Committee.
But this could change during the next legislative session.
If DLP manages to get reelected, and that’s a big if, the word around Tally is that there will be a new chairman of the Senate’s Judiciary Committee. I certainly hope this is the case. Enough is enough!
In the meantime, firearm instructors should make ready for open carry as an inevitability, rather than a possibility, by preparing thorough lesson plans that obviate the problems Mr. Owens discovered in his research.
Whether a trainer would or wouldn’t carry a handgun openly, for whatever reason, is moot. There will be thousands of gun owners throughout the state who will choose to carry their pistols openly. They should be trained how to carry their handguns in a safe manner. They should have the ability to learn the do’s and don’ts.
I carried a handgun openly for 10 years as a police officer, and I can assure you, there are definitely some do’s and don’ts.
While a thorough basic pistol class will cover proper handgun selection, in my humble opinion, open carry curriculum should focus on holster selection, weapon retention and situational awareness.
Holster selection: What works for concealed carry will not always work for open carry. An open carrier needs a quality retention holster of at least Level II or higher in order to thwart a “gun grab.” A Level II holster combines the friction used in a passive-retention holster with at least one mechanical device, such as a hood or a thumb or finger release. Once properly equipped, the student should be told they need to practice drawing from their security holster a few thousand times before carrying it openly.
Weapon retention: Good weapon retention training is vicious, or at least it should be. If a bad guy tries to take away a handgun from someone well trained in weapons retention, they’ll suffer a broken wrist, or worse. There are several schools of thought on this. Some foreign weapon retention training teaches the student how to fire their handgun into the attacker’s midriff to thwart their gun grab. American weapon retention training is a bit more tame. Regardless, if someone is carrying a weapon openly, it could become a target. If someone tries to strip them of their handgun, it’s life or death.
Situational awareness: I was cognizant of the fact that I was carrying a handgun openly every time I was out in the public. If affected the way I talked to people, the way I walked through a crowd, how I stood, where I sat in a restaurant, how I reacted when someone approached me from my gun side. This type of situational awareness is mandatory for anyone considering open carry. It’s a burden. It’s infinitely easier to carry concealed and not become a target. This point needs to be stressed to anyone considering open carry.
Florida has some of the best firearm instructors in the world. It’s time for them to start gearing up for open carry, whether or not they themselves ever plan to carry a handgun openly.