The Inherent Risks of Open Carry

Been thinking about strapping on a gun for protection? If so, you have no doubt heard the term “CCW” which is short for Concealed Carry Weapon. When you hear the term IWB in connection with CCW, the term is referring to an Inside-the-Waistband Holster. Some people, however, decide to just carry their gun in the open because it is legal where they live. They also think there are benefits to this style of carrying. While there are times when an open carry gun serves a specific purpose, in general it can cause more liability and issues than anything else. If you are planning to begin the practice of carrying a weapon, I encourage you to read on.

Open Carry - A good idea?
Open carry has few advantages when compared to concealed carry.

Our Right to Carry and Defend

It is true, we live in a free country and have the right to keep and bear arms. This includes multiple uses for those arms like self-defense, hunting, and sporting. The Second Amendment was put in place to make sure the people held the power. After all, we the people give the power to the government, right? If the government has complete control over a defenseless people, then I would argue we are no longer free. But that discussion is for another time.

The point is, having the freedom to own and carry a weapon does not mean carrying a weapon in the open everywhere we go is a good idea. There are tactical advantages that need to be considered when taking on the responsibility of carrying a firearm.

Disadvantages of Carrying in the Open

The most common answer given during an argument about open carry is, “It will deter crime everywhere I go because the bad guys will see that I have a gun.” But is there any truth to a deterrence doctrine? Yes, but in limited cases.

If someone’s position makes them a target even if they are not armed, open carry could be of some deterrence. This would include security guards, or employees of certain businesses. A gun store I visit frequently has multiple employees working at the same time. They all carry weapons to show customers they are armed and ready to defend the gun store. This is because gun stores are prone to robbery and the employees would be targets regardless.

shoulder holster for open carry
Simply covering up the weapon can keep you from standing out in public. It is better to have less attention drawn to you when something goes wrong.

Law enforcement carry in the open because they do a job that puts them in harm’s way, making them a target even if they did not carry a gun in the open. An open carry gun may be needed if you have a job that will attract attention to you. But if you are not acting in such a position, you may do more harm than good. Being in law enforcement, I have carried a gun in the open for a long time. But this is when I’m on duty and expected to deal with issues. When I’m off duty, I have never carried a gun openly in public and never will. Let’s look at why.

Dangers of Open Carry

It’s not fun to deal with criminals daily. But I do learn a lot about them including what deters them and what doesn’t. Someone openly carrying a gun could deter someone who plans to commit a crime. But it also may not. Some criminals may be high on drugs or so desperate, they are willing to take the risk. Here is where open carry can be counterproductive. If a criminal is willing to commit a crime and disregard human life in the process, open carry bystanders will be the first ones shot at.

Shooting a CCW weapon
A gun can be drawn faster from the open carry position, but you also become a target when carrying in the open.

Sure, a gun can be drawn faster from an open carry position than concealed, but not enough to make a difference when the criminal is already focused on you. The obvious gun on your hip is like a sign that says, “look at me.” When the weapon is concealed, you blend in and do not attract as much attention. This is especially important when you have family or friends with you. The last thing I would want is to draw an armed criminal’s attention to myself and my family in the store. Why not take a tactical approach and have the advantage?

Benefits of Concealed Carry

As you would assume from the above discussion, carrying a weapon concealed keeps you from standing out to the criminal. But even when there are no criminals around to cause trouble, why stand out to everyone else? Any time a gun is carried in the open, everyone in the store will notice the person carrying it. The tactical advantage is to be on the lookout for suspicious people while blending in. The criminals have no idea who has a gun and who doesn’t. Open carry reverses this advantage and gives it to the bad guy.

Concealed weapon
When a weapon is carried concealed, you keep the advantage of the criminals not knowing who has a weapon and who doesn’t.

Concealing a gun is harder than carrying one in the open. It takes training and practice on how to draw a weapon concealed. A weapon carried outside the waist is more comfortable and I carry this way in the winter when my jacket will cover up the gun. But I always have it concealed. I want to have the tactical advantage over anyone who may decide to cause harm to others while I am around. Not drawing attention to yourself is one part of gaining the tactical advantage when guns are involved.


How a gun is carried will be up to each person and the laws of that state and city. Like most things gun related, there is no right or wrong. There are various opinions from people that all make valid points. Open carry has more concerning issues than it does benefits. Either type of carry method brings a new level of responsibility and dedication to training. Carrying inside and outside the waist both require good holsters that have some type of retention.

Sheriff Jason Mosher is a law enforcement generalist instructor as well as a firearms and tactical weapons trainer. Jason graduated from the FBI-LEEDA (Law Enforcement Executive Development Association) and serves as a Sheriff for his day job. When he’s not working, he’s on the range, eating steak, or watching Yellowstone.

Sign Up for Newsletter

Let us know what topics you would be interested:
© 2024 GunMag Warehouse. All Rights Reserved.
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap