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When Does Carrying a Handgun, Turn into a Liability?

I just watched a video on Reddit that showed an elderly man walking through a parking lot, and he was open carrying his everyday carry (EDC) handgun. The one who posted the video asked:

I watched this guy struggle for over a minute trying to step down off a curb. If you have balance issues, maybe open carry isn't a responsible choice.

It's a legitimate question, not just for open carry, but for carrying a handgun in general. So here are some things to consider.

is open carry a liabilty

Why carry a handgun —

Why do we carry a handgun? The simple answer is for self-defense. We know the probability of needing to use an EDC gun is low, but because of the stakes, we would rather “have it and not need it than need it and not have it.”

If we carry a firearm to defend life, it's fair to assess if it allows us to do that or if carrying the gun is more of a liability because of our physical condition.

The gun may be a liability —

The man in the video is clearly struggling to keep his balance as he walks through a parking lot. I don't know anything about the man other than what we see in the video. However, it seems that the man may not be able to physically defend against someone who wanted to take his firearm. That is a problem.

It isn’t totally clear, but the firearm doesn’t look like it fits the holster quite right, but I digress.

Some violent criminals consider open carry a challenge and opportunity to get a free gun. Once the dirtbag has the gun, everyone is less safe, especially the person who lost the gun. So is the gun more of a liability? Possibly, even more so when carried openly.

Well, then just carry concealed, right? Possibly.

I've held the same opinion on the topic for years, that open carry should be a right, but that doesn't make it the right choice. But carrying concealed doesn't mean we don't need the ability to retain possession of our gun in a fight. And carrying concealed creates one additional hurdle, accessing the gun.

It's easier to draw a gun when you don't need to clear layers of clothing first. Could it be the man in the video considered that he couldn't draw from concealment, so he decided to carry openly? If this is the case, it begs us to ask the question once again:

Is the gun more of a liability than an asset? 

This challenge doesn't just apply to the elderly. Consider if you've had an injury that puts your primary hand in a cast? Do you feel comfortable swapping to a support-hand holster and carrying it that way? Can you skillfully defend or draw the gun in that condition? Maybe you can, but more goes into that decision than practicing firing with your off-hand on the range.

Each person must assess their abilities and determine the answer to that question.

Consider gun disarms —

This is just one video of a recent gun disarm. I don't think the person in this video was carrying the gun openly, rather I think it just was visible when her jacket rode up. Once the bad guy had the gun, he could have used it against anyone. It's something to consider.

The other side of the argument —

You're not wrong to say, wait, doesn't it make sense that the most vulnerable have a tool like a handgun to even the odds? After all, the man in the video likely can't protect against a thug's physical attack, and a gun may be his only option.

is the gun a liability for elderly

Deciding when the drawback of carrying outweighs the benefits is a subject that requires an individual assessment. Provided the person has mental clarity, they should be the one who makes that decision.

If you have a loved one facing this decision, help them consider these points in this post in case they never thought about them. Here are just some considerations:

Finally —

In no way am I suggesting that only physically solid and exceptionally-trained people should carry guns. Instead, I hope that those who carry a firearm consider and weigh all that comes with carrying that tool.

I also pray that seeing the man in the video will cause us to assess how we treat the most vulnerable people around us. Finally, if I live to be as old as the man in the video, I hope that someone younger, stronger, and with a Godly heart takes the time to help me when I can no longer.

Let's be a group of people who don't just carry guns for self-defense, but people help those who can't help themselves.

If you like this content, consider subscribing to the Concealed Carry Podcast. We discuss the 2nd Amendment, training, legal, and self-defense issues facing the ethical concealed carrier.

Rob Pincus

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23 Responses to When Does Carrying a Handgun, Turn into a Liability?

  1. Cosmo Hargrave March 1, 2022 at 2:06 pm #

    The video is a 6 second loop. Not enough to make any kind of judgement.Let’s see the whole minute. Another thing to consider- if no one has the common decency to help this guy navigate over an obstacle, who the hell”s going to help him if he is attacked? Put the phone down and get involved in real life.

  2. Lonnie March 2, 2022 at 9:02 pm #

    Can’t see what he is walking on or around. No way to judge what is going on with this six-second lop from a bad angle.

  3. Dr. Joseph March 2, 2022 at 9:34 pm #

    I think the author has assumed to much regarding the capabilities of this old gent, he may just surprise those like the this opinionated author..

  4. Mr. Bill March 3, 2022 at 2:26 am #

    Being 77 YOA and having lost my youthful agility I interpreted this post not as an inditement of the individual in the video but a thought provoker regarding responsible carry decisions in general when faced with a disability.

  5. Don March 3, 2022 at 4:36 am #

    Beware of these old men they usually have survived war and are more alert than you think it is wired into them by experience. Don’t judge them till you know them.

  6. Gary March 3, 2022 at 6:56 am #

    The older gentleman needed to carry more than most of us. Good story. Thanks for the perspective but most need to be taught instead of continuing to spread the fear of guns. Old guy may save your life someday!

    • Matthew Maruster March 3, 2022 at 9:12 am #

      Nothing in the post is spreading “the fear of guns.” If that’s what you got from the post you missed the point.

  7. Murray March 3, 2022 at 12:13 pm #

    This man may have not had total control at that moment but what about all the rest of the time? In his car, at home, in any other situation? You’re assuming that he is totally incapable of carrying based on the few seconds of this clip? Shame on you, my friend! I hope you never get old!

    • Matthew Maruster March 3, 2022 at 12:36 pm #

      Clearly you didn’t understand the post. I used this as an example to cause people to assess their own abilities. Carrying a gun on your hip doesn’t magically make you safe. People are disarmed and killed with their own gun all the time. So the ability to use the gun and keep it from being used against you are things every carrier should assess. I didn’t say this person could not do that, you are reading that into the post.

      • George March 3, 2022 at 3:45 pm #

        Matthew. I totally agree that is vitally important that one routinely assess their ability to protect themselves and family with a firearm, or any other weapon. As an old geezer, the only time I will open carry is when hunting, with only my mates around me. I will not do so in an urban environment. Concealed carry is the only way I carry a firearm when there will be anyone else around, as I am out and about. One should also be very careful in choosing where they go as one ages.

        • Matthew Maruster March 4, 2022 at 7:46 am #

          Thanks, George, I agree. To deny that as we get older our abilities to defend ourselves change is not wise, especially if we have a firearm. I avoid places and certain activities now that in the past I may not have just because I don’t have the same physical strength, endurance, and abilities as before.

          Thanks for reading the post, stay safe

  8. DONALD DAZENKO March 3, 2022 at 3:17 pm #

    You may get a big surprise if you attack this person. His use of a firearm may surprise the best of us. A comment I have heard “You respond the way you have practiced.

  9. Tony March 3, 2022 at 9:31 pm #

    Thanks for having the courage to write this, knowing the ignorant/negative comments you’ll get. Is there even a magazine in that gun? Look closely at the video.

    • Matthew Maruster March 4, 2022 at 7:47 am #

      Thanks Tony. It’s hard to say definitively but it doesn’t look like the gun has a mag. I thought about including it in the post but thought if I did, people might start arguing about that and miss the point I was trying to make. However it seems to have happened anyway. Thanks Tony

    • DW in TX March 4, 2022 at 12:52 pm #

      Now that you pointed it out, the gun does appear to have no magazine.

      That happened to me a few times with a particular holster. I moved some way that applied pressure on the IWB holster which quietly engaged the magazine release. When I got out of my vehicle, the magazine was lying on the seat instead of in the weapon. I’ve modified the holster so that won’t happen anymore. Everyone I know who carries agrees that finding the right holster can be a long and expensive journey.

      Here’s a crazy idea: maybe the open-carry gun is an unloaded deterrent/decoy, and he has a concealed gun that’s loaded. I’ll admit that’s unlikely, but possible. I am not suggesting that we do this, as I can imagine the legal system spinning that in some unfavorable ways.

  10. Dave March 4, 2022 at 9:12 am #

    I think there is definitely valid concerns on many activities that we deal with when older. I know that at almost 65 I look back fondly of memories of what I used to do as a younger adult. From my perspective of safety and avoiding conflict I have always carried concealed.

    There are various solutions you can utilize if you have mobility issues or difficulty in procuring your weapon from a concealed standpoint. As an example, fanny packs with quick releases, or even a “Sneaky Pete” system would all help you.

    I have never been one that wanted to advertise my weapon as I do believe there are definite disadvantages to open carry that many ignore, but that is my opinion only.

  11. Dan March 4, 2022 at 7:10 pm #

    Murray That comment ( I hope you don’t get old ) was way out of place.

  12. bob March 4, 2022 at 10:43 pm #

    Matt,

    While the video was good and you made a good point, what caught my attention is the fact that you’re a fellow Christian. Just a quick “God Bless You”. That’s all.

  13. Joe March 6, 2022 at 1:58 pm #

    I know this is a firearms forum, but I was actually more concerned that he was walking in a parking lot and likely was about to get into a vehicle and drive.

  14. Steve March 12, 2022 at 8:12 am #

    I can relate! I deal with arthritis but additionally, long term untreated/mistreated Lyme Disease. Fully capable but I deal with pain. Anyone thinking that I’m an easy target based only on my appearance will be severely surprised and disappointed.

  15. Ralph Collins August 9, 2022 at 9:51 pm #

    The lady in the second video was set up you can see it in the video her problem was her weapon was not concealed and she was followed into the store were the bad guys had the advantage to take her weapon no telling how long she was being stalked before he maid his move.

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