I often get asked by students and clients my opinion on open carrying of a firearm in Alabama, and my responses are usually the same, “Expect to get a negative response from some, expect to get asked to leave some places of business, and expect the police to show up at some point”. And then I ask them three questions, “What is the advantage of open carry? What is your firearms training background? How many of hours of weapon retention techniques have you practiced”?
Without sounding like a hypocrite, I admit at times I carry open in public for my work, but the difference is, I am wearing specific clothing that identifies me as an Executive Protection Agent and a badge that identifies me as the same. I also carry I.D’s that confirms who I am and what I do. Because of the professional attire no one questions me or has an issue due to my appearance. I do carry concealed on most of my protective details and I am always concealed when I am not working.
There is a dirty little word no wants use, and it is called PROFILING. There are several factors that must be taken into consideration when carrying a firearm open in public: How the person is perceived is a factor, their age, sex, race, clothing attire, type of firearm and how the firearm is carried are all relevant factors.
A 22 year old male will get more attention than a 50 year old, but if the 50 year old is dressed in dirty or shabby clothes and general appearance is seen as poor, this will draw some unwanted attention. A person carrying a firearm in a good holster will fare better in public then the guy who just sticks it in the back of his pants without a holster.
The argument that carrying open is a deterrent to crime has two sides…yes guns in the room tends to put people on notice that the room is somewhat protected, but it also tells the bad guy who to shoot first.
Many who open carry do not have a clue how easy it is to disarm someone or take a firearm from the holster. Police officers and Security Professionals wear levels 1- 4 or 5 retention rigs, and have trained for hours in weapon retention techniques. Most open carry persons are using level 1 at best. And if you think that little trigger release button on your Kydex rig is going to keep your firearm protected, you have just shown how little you actually know about weapon retention and your gear.
Now for a little tough love, allot of people carrying a firearm in public should leave it at the house. Many concealed and open carry persons have had little or no training with firearms, much less have taken a defensive handgun training course. Shooting still paper targets on the range a few times a year is a lawsuit, injury and potential death in the making.
If you are going to carry concealed or open carry get some training from a professional instructor, learn weapon retention techniques and dress in a manner that is a positive reflection of you and your right to carry a firearm. Be Safe.