By Rachel Brody |
Open carry is legal in 28 states without restriction. In another 13 states, a license is required. As ABC entitled a recent report, "Open carry is on the rise."
Shane Belanger is the head of the Maine Open Carry Association. He organized a rally where attendees were carrying openly. He told ABC News that the purpose of the public display was to accustom people to seeing guns and realize that they are not threatening.
As San Bernardino County (Calif.) Sheriff's Sargent, Dave Phelps said, "Gang members aren't known to open carry." For people living in jurisdictions where concealed carry is not legal, but open carry is, the latter is their only option.
Other reasons for open carry include providing a visible deterrent to crime and providing more comfort and quicker access than concealed carry. A 1985 Department of Justice survey of incarcerated felons reported that 57 percent of the felons polled agreed that "criminals are more worried about meeting an armed victim than they are about running into the police."
Researcher Gary Kleck found that 92 percent of criminal attacks are deterred when a gun is merely shown (or, rarely, a warning shot fired). By inference, this means that open carry would have the effect of deterring crime in the same way that a thief might choose another restaurant when he sees police eating at his intended target.
Also, larger handguns with more potent ammunition are easier to carry openly.
I personally have taken part in public awareness campaigns. On one occasion I was contacted by a Gun Owners of America member, Ray Seidel, who lives in Ruidoso, N.M. The mayor of the village had proclaimed that guns be banned everywhere within its boundaries.
A hearing was held in Ruidoso last fall with an overflow attendance. In defiance of the mayor, but consistent with the state's explicit constitutional protection of the right to open carry, many of us testifying were openly carrying. The mayor's proposal was shot down, so to speak.
Awareness of an armed citizenry has been shown to lower crime. In 1982, Atlanta suburb Kennesaw required all households to have a gun. The residential burglary rate subsequently dropped 89 percent in Kennesaw, compared to the modest 10.4 percent drop in Georgia as a whole.
Ten years later the residential burglary rate in Kennesaw was still 72 percent lower than when the ordinance was passed.
No wonder open carry is on the march.
About Larry Pratt Executive Director of Gun Owners of America
Dave Workman Senior Editor of TheGunMag.com
Ralph Shortey Republican State Senator in Oklahoma
Lindsay Nichols Staff Attorney with Legal Community Against Violence
Josh Sugarmann Founder and Executive Director of the Violence Policy Center