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Open Carry of a Firearm – Advantages and Disadvantages

March 3, 2009 AZ CCW Laws, Firearms Safety, State Firearms Laws 3 Comments

Question:  What’s your opinion on open carry. Do you think it makes you a “target” in sticky situations and do you think it’s dumb to let all the world know you’re armed.  Also when carrying open or concealed is it always best to carry loaded and ready for action with the pull of the trigger?

Answer: My answer to the first two questions would be “yes” and “yes”.  While completely legal in Arizona and supported by many of our ‘gun rights’ oriented residents, open carry has some disadvantages.  First, as you mention, it would make you the ‘primary target’ for anyone bent on armed mayhem.  If you are the only person visibly armed and a criminal is bent on commiting their crime, you will be the first target.  On the other hand, there are those that would also say that by seeing you carrying a firearm openly, it would discourage such criminal behavior. There is an element of logic in both arguments, but if you are carrying openly and are not aware of the impeding criminal act, you are at a disadvantage and at grave risk.  Personally, I would rather be carrying concealed and keep the tactical advantage for myself.

As far as ‘letting the world know you are armed’, again by placing people on notice that you are armed, most criminals will probably find an easier target.  On the flip side, those that are ‘nervous’ around firearms will avoid you like the plague.  Business owners may ask you to leave their establishment.  In one case I know of, a parent became know as the “gun guy” and was directed (improperly) by the vice principal of his child’s school to not carry at any off-campus school functions.  While it is against Arizona law to carry on school grounds, carrying a firerarm at school events that occur “off campus” is perfectly legal.  By letting people know that you have a firearm in your possession, you may allow their bias to potentially infringe on your constitutional right.  Frankly, it is no one’s business but mine if I carry a concealed firearm as long as I do so within the law.

Finally, regarding your question on carrying with a round in the chamber, as long as you are carrying your firearm in a holster that covers the trigger, in my view it is safe to carry with a round in the chamber.  If you have a handgun with an external safety, you should also engage that safety when carrying your firearm.  The vast majority of modern firearms are safe to carry in this manner with a round in the chamber.  If you do not have a round in the chamber, you will be required to chamber a round before you would be able to use your firearm in self defense.

Unfortunately, in most self defense situations, the thing most lacking is time.  You may have only a second or two to react to a lethal threat.  Most people that have not trained with a handgun will require 2-3 seconds to draw and fire assuming they have a round in the chamber.  I have seen this consistently in the thousands of students I have taught.  If you are required to chamber a round after drawing your firearm, you will be adding anywhere from .75 to 1.25 seconds to the 2-3 seconds that it will already take.  Count out 4 seconds and see how long that is…I think you’ll agree it is a very long time to give someone else the opportunity to shoot or stab you.  With good quality training and consistent practice, you may be able to reduce the time it takes to draw your firearm and make accurate shots to about 1.5 seconds, but it will ONLY occur if you get QUALITY training and PRACTICE.

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Currently there are "3 comments" on this Article:

  1. Christopher says:

    Doug,

    I carry a Glock 36 at the SOB with a ClipDraw so I have no holster per-se. I did buy and use the trigger guard/lock that is advertised with ClipDraw.

    Since I have owned this pistol, I have carried it unloaded due to it not have such safety as a 1911. My question to you is would you carry a Glock with a chambered round with the above mentioned gear?

    Christopher

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  2. TIM says:

    I AM THINKING OF MOVING FROM ALABAMA TO ARIZONA. I UNDERSTAND THAT ARIZONA IS AN “OPEN CARRY” STATE. I AM NOT USED TO THIS BECAUSE BAMA IS CONCEALED CARRY STATE. WHAT IS THE PROPER PROCEDURE TO MOVE MY RIFLES, SHOTGUNS AND PISTOLS TO ARIZONA FROM ALABAMA? I MEAN IF I GOT STOPPED ALONG THE WAY THEY WOULD HAVE A FEILD DAY WITH ME!!!
    PLEASE ALSO TELL ME SINCE ARIZONA IS A OPEN CARRY, DOES THAT MEAN I CAN GO ANYWHERE IN THE STATE LIKE “THE OLD WEST” AND NOT HAVE TROUBLE, MINUS SCHOOLS, AIRPORTS AND FEDERAL BUILDINGS OF COURSE. THANKS SO MUCH FOR YOUR TIME. PLEASE EMAIL ME AT HAIG@AOL.COM
    THANKS. TIM

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  3. Doug Little says:

    Christopher,

    In order to be safely carried, a Glock pistol should be holstered with the trigger area covered by the holster. I don’t have any direct experience with the reliability of the Safe-T-Blok which is the device you are referring to. I carry my own firearm in an ‘inside the waistband’ holster that covers the trigger area and provides quality retention of the firearm. By observation, if the Safe-T-Blok is secure in the trigger area and will not fall out, then it would seem to be a reasonable solution. My biggest concern would be that the device would fall out leaving the trigger uncovered. If you are dead set against using an IWB holster, your current setup will work as long as you understand its limitations and vulnerabilities.

    Regards,

    Doug

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