Telling it like it is

Rifle [Open Carry] is fucking stupid. It’s not done to keep peace, it’s done to get attention and create confrontations. And those of us with actual training and experience, especially those of us who carry concealed pistols to defend ourselves, our families and innocent people around us, have to react when we see someone carrying a rifle ready to engage in public. For those of us with a sworn duty to protect the public, OC creates even more problems. This isn’t about police overreaction; after aaallll the mass shootings we’ve had in America, and after the horrors of the Paris attack, any police officer who ignores Random Guy Walking Down The Street With A Rifle is guilty of criminal negligence.

[…]

Now that we’ve seen, over and over, what kind of damage a murderer with a rifle can cause, we sane 2A advocates have a responsibility. If we want to maintain 2nd Amendment freedoms for ourselves, children and grandchildren, we need to oppose the mindless stupidity personified by OC activism. Scaring the public with rifles isn’t exactly the best way to show why we citizens should own ARs and AKs. The Founding Fathers recognized the right to bear arms for a reason: they didn’t want American citizens to fight tyranny with pitchforks against cannon, as so often happened in Europe. It’s safe to say they didn’t want a bunch of untrained dipshits swaggering around town showing the world they could massacre everyone around if they feel like it.

Once again, Chris Hernandez, telling it like it is. (h/t Greg Ellifritz).

Yes, click through and read his entire article, so you can better understand his context. It’s short, but informative – I promise.

Even more, I see no reason for me to open carry

Since Texas enabled licensed individuals to openly carry handguns about 2 weeks ago, I have public openly carried twice.

And honestly, I don’t see myself doing it again.

Why?

Well, first, I should explain why I open carried in the first place.

It’s because as a firearms instructor in Texas, I should be able to speak with some first-hand experience about such matters. Having to actually do something, having to actually go through it and being forced to consider things you hadn’t considered before, it’s enlightening.

And so, I carried twice in particular environments for the learning.

The first was on my way to/from the first KR Training Open Carry Concepts class. I figured given the nature of the day, it was appropriate.

The second was when I attended the 2016 Paul T. Martin Preparedness Conference. One of the topics was covering open carry, and Karl, Paul, and I figured it would be good for a few of us to open carry to demonstrate what we believe good, responsible open carry is and should look like — because we don’t want “that guy”. We were dressed in business casual clothing, carried ourselves professionally, and worked to give the impression of someone “with their act together”, not the “derp” that the media wishes to see and portray.

So each time I carried, it was because there was purpose, because there was reason.

And so, that’s where it’s going for me.

What advantage does Open Carry give (me)?

And the conclusion I’m coming to is: none.

Now, that’s a blanket statement, made for some poetic impact. In reality, it’s “almost none”.

When Karl gave his presentation on Open Carry, he listed the following advantages:

  • Faster access to your pistol
  • Potential deterrent
  • Easier to carry a larger pistol
  • More comfortable in warmer weather
  • “Normalization” of right to keep and bear arms

As blanket statements go, they are advantages. But at least for me? I don’t find them to be advantages. (and for the record, Karl’s pretty much in the same boat as I am — you had to view his PowerPoint slide within the context of his presentation).

Faster access to your pistol. Yes, technically an open carry draw is faster than a concealed carry draw. If concealed carry was faster, then the fastest competition pistol shooters in the world would be shooting from concealment – but they don’t; they all use open carry holsters. There’s no clothing to get out of the way, to foul the draw, to slow things down. But on the flip side, if you’re openly carrying you should be carrying in a retention holster, and having to deactivate that retention mechanism will cost you time. The more retention mechanisms to deactivate, the slower things get. And believe me, you can fail to deactivate the mechanism and totally foul your draw. So while certainly an open carry draw is faster than a concealed draw, a retention draw is going to be slower than an open draw. Advantage lost.

FWIW for me, my retention draw is slower than my concealed draw, from a level-2 Safariland ALS holster. I’m sure I could get faster in time, but my thumb is going to hate me. But even tho I am can get faster, it’s still going to be slower.

Potential Deterrent. Maybe. I covered this before. There are stories of crime being deterred, but there are also stories of open carriers being attacked for their gun — flat out inviting crime. So does the potential for deterrence provide a compelling enough advantage to me? Not really. I think it’s more of an advantage to leave ’em wondering and let my gun be a surprise, not an invitation.

Easier to carry a larger pistol. This is certainly a fair point to reason. It’s easier to carry outside the waistband than inside, and when you don’t have to consider the need to hide bumps and bulges under clothing, that matters too. Granted, while some Texas residents were always concerned about getting in trouble for printing or concealment issues, it was never a legal problem. And certainly now, it’s even less of a legal problem. Still, strictly speaking, open carry can permit the carry of a larger gun. Thing is, I carry a full-sized S&W M&P9 on my hip, inside my waistband, every day for the past many years. Works out just fine. But I know this doesn’t work for everyone because body shapes and styles are different. And interestingly? I find it more of a pain to carry in my Safariland 7377 ALS because it sits the gun out so far from my body, it balances weird, and my arm keeps banging into it all day. As well, because it doesn’t hug my body, it’s this big lump of steel sitting in an awkward place, and no, sitting in a desk chair all day just is not as comfortable. So, I’ll say to this point, it’s a personal issue, but for me, it’s not any advantage.

More comfortable in warmer weather. Hard to call since OC went legal in Texas in the coldest month of the year. 😉  But for sure, not having the gun pressed up against your body will probably be nice when it comes to sweating. Thing is, clothing choices start to matter more here too, and the clothing choices necessitated by OC may negate any summer advantages. However… I was joking with a friend that OC requires you to tuck in your shirt… unless you had no shirt, or even better – a belly shirt. Please, no, don’t do this. 🙂

“Normalization”. This is a political matter, not a practical one. While I certainly involve myself in gun rights matters and politics, I don’t carry a gun for political reasons. I might carry from time to time because of this or some other similar reason (e.g. the two times I’ve OC’d so far; not political, but for a reason other than practical, self-defense), but as for offering me some sort of advantage, there is none.

Other reasons. Having to put myself in a position of a responsible open carrier, I had to think about some things and make some changes that I didn’t like.

For example, I have to tuck in my shirt. I don’t like tucking in my shirts, because of body shape, comfort, preference, and so on.

But another important reason for an untucked shirt? I conceal a lot more than a gun. I wear a lot of things on my belt, and if my shirt is tucked in, I cannot conceal them. I lose a lot of useful tools, or I have to cram them into my pockets (and I may not be wearing pants that can support that extra load; and it’s uncomfortable). This is a loss of functionality for me, and that’s certainly not an advantage.

Another is I don’t need the attention. While at the conference I spent some time just walking around the Cabela’s. Now if any place should be friendly to OC it’d be such a store with such a clientele, and for the most part there it was a mundane issue. But for sure I saw a few looks, heard a few passing comments (nothing bad, just evident people noticed because Joe commented on it to Fred as they walked by), but otherwise uneventful. But even that small bit of attention wasn’t something I wanted. I prefer to keep to myself, to go about my business, and frankly drawing attention to myself just gets in the way and wastes my time. My time is precious, and if I’m going to spend it on OC-topics then I want it to be because I chose to engage in it, not because someone else drew me into it and interrupts my day.

And now with the proliferation of 30.07 signs, that’s certainly going to be an interruption of my day to have to weave in and out of contending with that. But if I’m just always concealed, I can just go about my business and have one less hassle to deal with.

Are there reasons to openly carry? Certainly. There can be times when it will be an advantage to do so. And I am thankful that, as a law-abiding citizen, I am enabled with options. In general, for me, open carry causes me more hassle than gain, from a practical, every-day standpoint. I may do it from time to time, and I appreciate that I can. But in general?

I’m going back to untucking my shirt.

Random Open Carry thoughts

Just returned from KR Training‘s first Open Carry Concepts class. First, of course, because the (licensed) open carry of handguns only became legally possible in Texas just yesterday. But, this won’t be the last class (there’s another scheduled for January 30).

The intent of the class is to cover concepts relevant to the open carry of handguns, such as: proper retention holsters, open carry laws, draw/reholstering drills using retention holsters, relevant live fire drills, interactions with people (law enforcement, random folks), gun retention and disarm techniques. The class was co-taught with Leslie Buck of Tactical Arts Academy.

If you’re going to open carry, or even just want to learn a little more about it, taking a class like this is a must. Open carry brings a host of new issues into your world, and the more you can be aware of those issues and handle them responsibly and gracefully, the better off you will fare.

Class was sold out, and we had a good group of students. Some returning alumni, some new folks. But everyone seemed to get a lot out of the day, and it was eye-opening on a number of levels.

First, retention holsters are going to require practice. It will be different from your normal holster, not just in terms of managing the lock mechanism, but most retention holsters are going to “carry/ride” differently on your body, and even an inch of variation can make a huge difference to your muscle memory. There were numerous self-administered wedgies today when people would fail to deactivate the retention mechanism, try to draw, and wind up with their pants pulled up high. It’s going to be different, you’re going to need practice. Thankfully, working on drawing from a retention holster is something you can do at home in dry practice.

Second, almost no retention holster is going to be concealable. Is it that you can’t have retention and concealability? I don’t think so – I think it’s more about what’s on the market, but to some extent there is mechanics. I mean, that ALS mechanism would be difficult to work if it was tight against the body. This Safariland 537 has been working out really well in terms of concealment, but it was pretty evident in class today that while technically there is a retention mechanism, gee it’s really not much.  Even those with rigs like the Safariland 7377 were able to have the ALS defeated fairly easily with particular simple grabs – tho for sure, adding the 6006 ALS Guard greatly aided in making it difficult to defeat the retention. But then, that 6006 caused a lot of thumb pain and grief and missed draws. So again, it’s back to lots and lots of practice.

But when it comes to holsters, like so many things it’s going to come down to tradeoffs. My present feeling – for myself – is if I’m going to intentionally and knowingly open carry for some reason, using my 7377 with the 6006 is going to be the way to go. But this will also require me to not have a need to conceal (e.g. needing to enter a place with a posted 30.07 sign), because the only way I could conceal the 7377 would be under my huge Carhartt duck coat. The 537 is much more concealable, and I could potentially even see wearing it as a normal concealment holster (tho OWB, so I would have to have particular clothing). Then if I went open, or if there was need to be open but then sometimes go concealed, the 537 would work out better. But then, I just don’t feel as good about the retention mechanism (jury is still out; needs more testing but so far I’m not high on the retention mechanism). So, trade-offs.

Frankly in most respects? It feels like the best option is to just keep it concealed and go about life as usual.

See for me, the question comes down to: what is gained? Is there some advantage I’m gaining by carrying openly? I mean, fundamentally what it comes down to is: is my shirt tucked in or untucked. Really, that’s it. At this time, I see no advantage gained in carrying openly, and I do see disadvantages. But this is me in my life and my world. Other people, other circumstances, carrying openly may be useful. For example, now that a lot of reciprocity agreements with Virginia were just nullified, one way people can get around it in Virginia is to carry openly… so there’s an advantage there.

But for me? Well, what I appreciate most is having the option available to me, should I wish or need to exercise it.

And for what it’s worth, I did today. I mean, I was going to KR Training to assist in an Open Carry-related class, so might as well walk the walk now that I can. And that I did.

And you know what?

No one cared.

I’m not even sure anyone noticed.

If anything seemed to get noticed, it was the group of 3 “goth-ish” girls that walked into the Buc-ee’s, one of whom looked like a goth Santa Claus. That got everyone’s attention. My gun? Not so much.

Will I OC regularly? Again, I don’t think so because what does it gain me? I do see it causing me some hassle (e.g. weaving in and out of the web of 30.07 postings), and frankly, there’s a bigger thing I thought about as I was getting dressed this morning.

See, I have a hard enough time being “the gray man”. The very nature of me doesn’t blend in very well: I’m tall, I’m big, I have long hair, I have this fu-man-chu-like facial hair. I stand out. People may not know me, but people sure recognize me and I easily leave impressions on people. And there’s other things about me that cause a lot of interest and odd looks, and I’ve dealt with this most of my life. Consequently, I have to do things to manage people’s perception of me, sometimes in good ways and sometimes in bad ways. I know when to look intimidating, and I know when to look soft and friendly.

And frankly? I’d just rather not put the whole gun thing into the mix of managing those perceptions of myself. I don’t carry a gun as a fashion accessory – it’s a tool with a specific purpose. It’s too sensitive of an issue for some people. I don’t need the hassle that may come, whether it’s from dealing with 30.07 signs, to hysterical hoplophobes, to some dude that just wants to talk gun gear with me. If I’m out and about I’m either doing something with my family, or I’m taking care of business. I don’t need hassle and distraction and other shit getting in my way and delaying me. I like keeping my shirt untucked anyways – always preferred this, even before I carried a gun – because it’s just more casual, it’s just more comfortable, and Motörhead t-shirts look stupid when tucked in. 😉

And honestly, I don’t care to have people irrationally associate me with “gun”, because it will happen. I have enough things people irrationally associate with me anyways (because of my hair, my clothing, whatever). I’m getting older and prefer to make my life easier, not more annoying. Right now there’s nothing that I personally gain from carrying openly; and for me personally I only see potential negatives.

But to each their own. Everyone’s going to be different.

And if you are going to choose to carry openly, please please please. Don’t be “that guy” that hurts the cause more than helps it. Karl wrote some excellent thoughts on open carry. Please read them.

Carry on.

 

Yes, you ARE being detained – Follow-up

Yesterday’s article, “Yes you ARE being detained” stirred up more controversy than I expected. My goal was to inform you – the potential open carrier – about how the new Texas “open carry” laws are being interpreted by the police, district attorneys, and lawyers. Yet, there were some who disagreed with what I wrote (on my blog, in Facebook comments, and emails).

What I wrote was not my random opinion.

What I wrote was an explanation of the realities and facts of how the current open carry laws are presently being interpreted and thus WILL be enforced. 

This was written for YOUR benefit, so when a peace officer approaches you while you are openly carrying your handgun, you can have an informed, knowledgable, and good interaction. Because if you decide to get your “rights” up in a bunch, that the first words out of your mouth are “AM I BEING DETAINED?!?!” while you fire up your phone’s video recorder so you can give the officer a roadside civics lesson, you need to understand that the encounter is NOT going to end in a manner that you care for – AND YOU WILL LOSE because of your ignorance and/or arrogance. Not only will you lose, but you’re going to make the rest of us lose as well.

Here’s a video from a November 4, 2015 meeting held by Houston Police Chief Charles A. McClelland, Jr., Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson, and Houston City Attorney Donna Edmundson specifically to address questions regarding the new Open Carry laws:

You don’t need to watch the whole thing. Just watch and listen to the first 2 questions, starting about 6 minutes into the video. They specifically address these issues, and they said the same thing I said.

If you want to blow that off as “Houston”, then take a read of the Nov/Dec 2015 issue of TSRA Sportsman, the magazine of the Texas State Rifle Association. Edin Walker, independent attorney for Texas Law Shield, wrote an article and said the exact same thing. TSRA is about as pro-gun rights as you can get, and they are saying the same thing.

You are welcome to disagree all you want, but the facts are what they are.

When this law goes into effect January 1, 2016, if a police officer sees a person carrying a handgun in plain view, they can stop and detain you until they can determine if you satisfy the “unless” clause (produce your ID and LTC). If you fail to do so, you will be in violation of the law and consequences for disobeying the law will ensue.

If you disagree with all of this, then it’s simple – don’t open carry.

Furthermore, you don’t need to give me or the peace officer a civics lesson. Instead, you need to contact your state legislators and discuss improvements to the law for the 2017 legislative session.

As well, I would recommend joining the TSRA and sending Alice Tripp some money so she can continue to lobby for you.

Either way, you need to think about the big picture.

Come January 1, 2016, every anti-gun-rights group AND media outlet is waiting. They are waiting – salivating – eager for that first open-carry fuck-up. They will parade it around, turn it into national news, they will twist it to serve their agenda, and they will use it as ammunition to further restrict our rights and abilities.

Do you want to be that poster-child?

Yes, you ARE being detained

Updated 2015-11-05: posted a follow-up.

For those of you wishing to open carry a handgun in Texas come January 1, 2016, it’s critical you understand the law.

One issue that came up during the debates during the 2015 Texas Legislative session 84(R) on the open carry bill (HB 910) was issues of “stop and identify”, if a police officer could stop you to determine if you had a carry license or not. The drama of the debate no longer matters: what matters now is what the law currently says.

What does the law say? The law is silent on the matter.

That said, the bottom line is that yes, if a police officer sees you openly carrying a handgun, they can certainly stop and detain you for the purposes of determining if you are properly licensed.

How is this possible?

Prior to 84(R) HB 910, Texas Penal Code §46.02 Unlawful Carrying Weapons said:

Sec. 46.02. UNLAWFUL CARRYING WEAPONS. (a) A person commits an offense if the person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly carries on or about his or her person a handgun, illegal knife, or club if the person is not:
(1) on the person's own premises or premises under the person's control; or
(2) inside of or directly en route to a motor vehicle or watercraft that is owned by the person or under the person's control.
(a-1) A person commits an offense if the person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly carries on or about his or her person a handgun in a motor vehicle or watercraft that is owned by the person or under the person's control at any time in which:
(1) the handgun is in plain view; or
(2) the person is:
(A) engaged in criminal activity, other than a Class C misdemeanor that is a violation of a law or ordinance regulating traffic or boating;
(B) prohibited by law from possessing a firearm; or
(C) a member of a criminal street gang, as defined by Section 71.01.
(a-2) For purposes of this section, "premises" includes real property and a recreational vehicle that is being used as living quarters, regardless of whether that use is temporary or permanent. In this subsection, "recreational vehicle" means a motor vehicle primarily designed as temporary living quarters or a vehicle that contains temporary living quarters and is designed to be towed by a motor vehicle. The term includes a travel trailer, camping trailer, truck camper, motor home, and horse trailer with living quarters.
(a-3) For purposes of this section, "watercraft" means any boat, motorboat, vessel, or personal watercraft, other than a seaplane on water, used or capable of being used for transportation on water.
(b) Except as provided by Subsection (c), an offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor.
(c) An offense under this section is a felony of the third degree if the offense is committed on any premises licensed or issued a permit by this state for the sale of alcoholic beverages.

Under existing (pre-January 1, 2016) law, a police officer has the authority to stop someone they see openly carrying a handgun. Why? Because according to the above law, it’s against the law to do so. Simple enough.

With 84(R) HB 910, §46.02 changes:

(1) the handgun is in plain view, unless the person is
licensed to carry a handgun under Subchapter H, Chapter 411,
Government Code, and the handgun is carried in a shoulder or belt
holster; or

So what it means is this:

If a police officer sees someone openly carrying a handgun, the police officer has reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed – namely, the possession of a handgun in plain view, in violation of Penal Code §46.02. Note the language in HB 910 adds to §46.02 the phrase “unless the person is licensed to carry a handgun under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code, and the handgun is carried in a shoulder or belt holster”.

So yes, you can be stopped. Yes you can be detained. Yes the police officer can and will work to determine if you are able to legally carry (do you satisfy the “unless” clause). Yes, you might be disarmed by the officer.

And yes, per GC §411.205, if a license holder is carrying a handgun on or about the license holder’s person when a magistrate or a peace officer demands that the license holder display identification, the license holder shall display both the license holder’s driver’s license or identification certificate issued by the department and the license holder’s handgun license. That doesn’t change with 84(R) HB 910.

So before you get your “rights” all up in a bunch, realize that this is how the law is.

And in speaking with lawyer and LEO friends of mine, there are many other legal cans of worms that are being opened due to the general notion of open carry AND specifically due to the way the current law is phrased. The more I hear and think about these things, the less I feel like open carrying and becoming the precedent-setter. A lot is going to have to be sorted out by the legislators and the courts in the coming years.

If you don’t want to be stopped, if you don’t want to get stuck in the legal mud, then don’t open carry. It’s simple. If you don’t like that this is how things are, then work with your legislators (and probably the TSRA) to get things improved.

If you do chose to carry, if you do get stopped, then realize it will be your opportunity to set the pace and tone for not just yourself, but every other gun owner. As I said before: be polite, be professional. In terms of your own interaction, you’re going to get further by being professional, polite, understanding, sympathetic, and polite (yes, polite said now three times for emphasis) – even if the cop is being a power-tripping asshole, that doesn’t mean you have to be. Be nice. Demonstrate good manners (say “please” and “thank you”, “sir” or “ma’am” doesn’t hurt either). If you’re nice, your interaction should go smoothly – if it doesn’t, then you being nice gives you the upper hand and will just magnify the other’s less than exemplary behavior. We’re all going to be scrutinized here, so live up to some high(er) standards. And hopefully if all early-day interactions go smooth and well, hopefully that will mean less interactions for us all as time goes on.

It’s your choice – you can be an asshole, or you can be an ambassador. Don’t ruin it for the rest of us. Don’t ruin it for yourself. Some people want to open carry to show off their gun. Well, remember that it’s not just your gun that’s openly carried, but also how you carry yourself that’s open for display to the whole world. Make us and make yourself proud.

Open Carry – Don’t be “That Guy”

I was on the phone with a LEO friend of mine.

The topic? the forthcoming “open carry” of handguns in Texas.

The main concern we have is the extreme display of derp that’s going to happen on January 1, 2016 when the open carry law goes into effect.

Here’s the thing.

You HAVE to KNOW that EVERY news outlet across Texas (and beyond) are just salivating for January 1. Why? Because they are itching to be the first to break a story of someone open carrying and royally fucking up.

They want to parade it out and show how dangerous open carry is. How crazy gun owners are. To prove “they were right” all along.

And then yes, all the anti-gun groups are going to pounce. Given it’ll be a Presidential election year, they’ll try to make gun control a big political talking point, and if they work their money and media machine right, we could be in for one hell of a time. Don’t underestimate them.

All because someone couldn’t keep it in their pants…

As much as I hate to say it, given the way so many people are talking on Internet boards and comment threads, I’m expecting the derp to hit fairly soon after the law goes into effect. I just hope I’m proven wrong.

Here’s the thing people.

If you really want to open carry, you need to set and live to a high example. You are going to be scrutinized HEAVILY — both by the anti’s and even “our side”. The anti’s want more fuel for their fire. And folks on our side do not want you to ruin everything for the rest of us.

You need to use a good retention holster (like a Safariland ALS). You need a good and proper gun belt. Dress nice. Look professional. Act professional. Carry yourself like you have your shit together.

Even better? Actually HAVE your shit together. Get some proper training on gun retention. Learn about awareness and alertness, and put it into practice. Live up to a high standard, because EVERYONE is going to expect it of you, so expect even better of yourself.

When you got your handgun license you hopefully understood that you were taking on a big responsibility. The fact the gun now can be out from under your shirt doesn’t diminish that responsibility; in fact, it increases it. You chose to carry a gun because you realized your life and safety was precious and important; that doesn’t change on January 1. You understand Farnam’s Law: “Don’t go to stupid places; don’t associate with stupid people; don’t do stupid things. We will add to that, be in bed by 10 o’clock.”  From that you know you shouldn’t do stupid things – that doesn’t change January 1.

Make your decisions upon sound reasoning. “Because I can” is not often the best reason to do something. Remember why you actually carry a gun, and carry yourself in that manner.

I’m not going to tell you to not open carry. But I am going to ask you to not be “That Guy”.

Open Carry and Handgun Retention

Leslie Buck of Tactical Arts Academy writes a good primer on the open carry of handguns and the importance of being able to retain your gun.

The article covers both issues such as holster selection (more votes for the Safariland ALS system), and actual in-hand retention issues.

Well worth the read.