On December 22, just days before Christmas, a thief snatched an open carried gun right off a person's hip in a North Carolina Walmart. Clearly while our name is concealedcarry.com, we support all firearms rights, to include those of us who decide to brave the storm of carrying their guns out in the open for all to see. There are a different set of rules that one must follow when you make the decision to open carry your self-defense firearm because this is precisely what can happen when you don't do it the right way.
This article isn't meant to discuss whether or not we should conceal or open carry our guns, but more of a primer on how we should open carry if we decide to exercise that right. I have carried open before, but it was a few years ago and have since made the decision to stop. Let's go over some things that you need to know before you make the decision to carry where people can see your gun.
First, many people won't even notice that you're carrying and those aren't the people you need to worry about. Let me re-word this so I can actually make my point … Your situational awareness needs to be on point. You need to be aware of your surroundings at all times, even more so when you've got a gun open on your hip.
You should always try to pick up on who realizes that you've you got your gun on. Those are the ones who may try something. Here is a little back story. I'm friends with this guy from my time in the Marines. He lives in Texas, and though he was in the Marines, he's incredibly anti-gun. We don't talk much, and it's more of a “Flakebook” friendship than anything else. One time he made a post about what he wanted to do when he saw another open gun carrier after their open carry laws were passed, and how he'd rip the gun off their hip.
While the post caused such a commotion that he had to remove it, you can rest assured that he is actually looking for a gun on someone's hip–and so is any person wiling to steal a gun off of someone. If you're aware of your surroundings, you are less likely to actually have your gun stolen from you because you can see the people eyeing it up before it happens. If you suspect it, you have the option to get out of there or take another step to prevent it.
Your gear choice is also highly important. Seriously. You want a decent holster, anyway, but having a retention setup is a superior concern when you open carry, for this reason alone. The last thing you want is for someone to steal your gun off your hip. A better scenario would be to have someone attempt to steal it, and fail, because they couldn't manipulate your retention holster from behind you.
But, while having the right gear on is an utmost concern, it doesn't replace proper assessment of each situation you are in so it comes back to the first point. Truth is, retention holsters can be defeated with some minor studying. Furthermore, depending on your level of retention, getting your gun out of your holster yourself, in a defensive scenario, may not be an easy task if you're not yet proficient with it.
Therefore, here is what I recommend: Regardless of if you open carry or conceal your gun, you need to train with your chosen holster and practice constant situational awareness. You should be doing all of the above, anyway, but you must know who sees your firearm. Someone who doesn't notice it won't try to take it. Someone who has seen it and is either anti-gun or a criminal won't be able to take their eyes off it.
Of course, not everyone is a criminal or someone who hates guns but seeing these people could be the difference between having your gun stolen, or not.
Always train with your gear, and always be aware of your surroundings. It could be the difference between life and death. Have you ever open carried your gun before? If so, list out your holster for us, and how you prepare yourself to open carry in the comments below.