Should You Open Carry Your Firearm?

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I was talking to someone who is still learning about the Prepper Movement and she asked me what I thought about Open Carry. She specifically asked me for my opinion on should you open carry or not. I have heard a lot of positions both for and against Open Carry and I wanted to discuss them on the Prepper Journal. As with everything else I have my opinions and hopefully you will share yours as well in the comments section below. Before I get too deep into this article, I have to state the obvious and that is regardless of what I say, or you think, you alone are responsible for following the laws where you are located or the consequences could be serious. Additionally, there will be some resources in this article to learn more about Open Carry and your legal rights and responsibilities. I suggest you make sure you know the laws before you do anything that could land you in jail or worse, dead.

To start with what is Open Carry? Open Carry is simply wearing your firearm normally and not concealing it. Now, I have to add that you can’t go running through a mall with an assault rifle at port arms. No, Open Carry is displaying your firearm for others to see in a normal (non-threatening fashion). For a pistol, this would usually mean a holster with your firearm in the holster on your hip attached with a sturdy belt. For a rifle it generally means having the weapon slung over your shoulder or across your back.

Why would anyone want to Open Carry

Why do you carry in the first place?

Why do you carry in the first place?

This is where we typically end up in emotional territory. I personally view the 2nd Amendment as my right to be armed. I do not think that right is restricted to a militia. I do not view the 2nd amendment as dealing with sports or hunting only. I do not care for interpretations of that right by various factions whose only goal is to take away my rights. I can read the Constitution and it is pretty clear to me that we do have a right to arm ourselves and we shouldn’t need permission from anyone to do so.

Now, if you have a criminal record, or mental illness or some other reason why your local government has passed a law saying you are unable to own a firearm, that is something else. I don’t want any wacko in the world walking around with a gun but I am strongly supportive of the rights of law abiding citizens to freely own and carry their firearms. There should not be a limit on the type, style or amount of bullets, magazines or anything else the nut-jobs in the gun control lobby want to legislate. That includes Open Carry as well.

We do though have to think about this logically and ask ourselves what you stand to gain from carrying your firearms in the open. To me, if you are carrying in all but a few select situations, you are asking for trouble and there is no real reason to do this other than to make a statement. For the average Joe to walk down the street in their town with a legal handgun or rifle and do a little shopping, you are asking for attention. Even if nobody says anything, you will get attention. Even if no police come up to you because someone was concerned you will get attention. To me, that isn’t what I want at all.

Why would you carry a gun?

To answer the Open Carry question, it might make sense to ask another question first and that is why would you carry a gun in the first place? For me a gun is for self-defense. I advocate for the practice of every mature and responsible adult who is so inclined to legally obtain a firearm, training (not necessarily in that order) and their Concealed Carry Permit. This article isn’t meant to address some concerns that you shouldn’t have to ask your government for permission to own any firearm. I don’t deny that, but I am living within the laws we have at this time.

Having a weapon is for me a right, but it is also a great responsibility. I carry so that I can defend my life or the lives of others if I need to. In order to carry out that responsibility I need to have proper training in the use of that firearm and the Situational Awareness of my surroundings to recognize threats as soon as possible. What I do not want is for any threat to find me before I spot them. If I am carrying a gun and the bad guy sees me, who do you think he will shoot first? This isn’t about hiding, it is about staying stealthy and for that I think carrying concealed is a far better option. It won’t get any attention if done properly but will still give me the tool I need to deal with a life threatening situation.

I have not ever Open Carried outside of to the range and that was a short walk from the car to the front door and possibly hunting. I didn’t come in contact with a lot of other people in the latter instance and in the former; I wasn’t doing anything strange or unusual. It was perfectly normal for me to walk into a shooting range from my car with a gun on my side. You can’t say the same about McDonald’s or the Mall. If you choose to Open Carry in either of those two places, you will almost definitely get the cops called on you. Is this right? Should our society be focused on other things? Isn’t this your right to carry? Maybe, but it simply isn’t worth it to me to get arrested or even detained for carrying in the open. It doesn’t accomplish my goal of keeping anyone safe. Could this all change in the future? Yes it could and when the situation changes, so will my policy. For now I am flying under the radar.

“We should proudly carry our weapons in the Open” you say. “A Right Unexercised is a Right Lost” you challenge, and that is true to an extent. I for one am not ready to be the Rosa Parks on Open Carry. I have my family to think of, provide for and protect. I would never take your right away from you to do that though.

Open Carry is a right that is protected in a lot of states. You can go to the website for resources and information on what is allowed in your state. I would also suggest you personally research the specific laws of your state as well as this website. It doesn’t matter what any website tells you. If something is against the law, you are screwed. If you are planning on carrying concealed, you need to also know about the laws where you are going. Some states will honor your concealed permit in their state and others won’t. Before you go on that cross country car trip, make sure you know which states will honor your concealed carry permit so that you stay legal and out of trouble. You can view that information on USA Carry.

These are just my thoughts, I am curious to hear yours.

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Freedom-loving American doing what I can to help prepare and inform others. Editor and creator of The Prepper Journal 2013-2017, 2020 -

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Thank you for the thoughts. Like you, I prefer Concealed Carry. The reason I do, deals with the element of surprise. You don’t want to be showing all your cards when the bad guy shows up! No need to put a target on your back (or hip).

Pat Henry

My thoughts exactly. Thanks SEKPrepper!

Northern Raider

As someone rather keen on surviving and thriving after TSHTF and seeking every possible advantage I would absolutely positively encourage everyone else to open carry their side arms, it makes prioritising targets that much easier if I know who to take out first.

Pat Henry

Oh Northern Raider… I imagine you saying this will a sly grin on your face. Sarcasm is so hard to convey in print isn’t it? 🙂


I’d like OC – just gives you options – some times it’s just easier, but personally I would CC 99% of the time if at all possible. On my property I OC all of the time and it’s just a little easier not to worry about it when I have to run into town for a part because inevitably I end up having to leave it behind. Just options… and lowers the issues for accidental printing or display, but that’s still a risk… why bring attention to yourself… but man it would be a lot easier if we just didn’t… Read more »

Natty Bumppo

Good post, however personally I open carry 99% of the time. I do carry a back-up concealed. It is true that when you open carry, OPSEC becomes even more a priority, it should be anyway. Also, if ever needed to access my weapon quickly I prefer not to be fighting a shirt, coat or anything else. Anyone who has ever been under fire will understand what I am saying here, because your heart rate increases and your mind has an oh crap moment. If you ever draw it, you better be prepared to use it. Because I have open carried… Read more »

Pat Henry

Thanks for the comments and compliments Natty,

Some of us (including me) don’t have jobs that allow open carry where we work so concealed is the only viable option. I totally agree with you though that open carry is ideal and would be preferred by me if everything was equal. There are so many issues with concealed that you do have to give it more thought than open carry, but for a lot of us, we don’t have other options.



You live in the wrong place if you get the cops called on you for open carrying, unless it’s because one of their buddies thinks they need to see your latest 1911. 🙂

Pat Henry

I hear what you are saying Joebob,

Seems like the “right” places are getting harder and harder to find. Maybe the news about the Sheriffs who are bucking the new laws foreshadows a more gun-friendly attitude.Time will tell.


Methane Creator

In the 1800’s everyone open-carrried. Folks were a lot nicer and mannerly then too. If you were a ****head, someone probably dropped you and finished any chances of you contributing to the gene pool. Men tipped their hats, held the doors open for ladies and the elderly, and said please and thank you more often than today. Teenagers and young adults can say or do whatever they want with little ramification. Every now and then the gene pool needs to be cleaned up!

Pat Henry

I agree with you Methane Creator,

Funny how the risk of getting your face blown off really improves the respect quotient and manners of a lot of people. To some this is ingrained into the fiber of their being but others need a much harder lesson or risk of that lesson. Our society has championed the bad guys and made excuses for evil for far too long that our current state was probably inevitable.



I open carry all the time. It is not exactly unheard of where I live in Arizona, but it is not the norm either. I can open carry in McDonalds, the grocery store, and many other places without any issues. Only once have I been asked to disarm by store employees and I did so without any question (it is their property, thus their right to make the rules for entry). I like to open carry for several reasons. One: I never have anyone be rude to me. People always speak to me with respect, even if they disagree with… Read more »

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