Debate Club

Open Carry is Already Legal Under the Constitution

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The debate over how some may carry a firearm for protection can only be discussed when the foundation for the carry provisions has been fairly set. Most conceal and carry laws restrict a right that is guaranteed by the Constitution. To say that you may only carry a firearm if you have paid a certain amount of money to the government for a licensing fee and then submit to regulation would be equivalent to telling the press that they must abide by certain rules and pay for the right of free speech.

[Read America's Gun Culture and Its Effect on the 2012 Election.]

I recently had a debate with a friend who told me that everyone has the right to defend themselves and that gun control does nothing to infringe on that. The issue this brings up is a very simple one. If you are attacked by an unarmed assailant, and you are yourself unarmed, then for the most part you have the right to self-defense. However, if the assailant is armed or is otherwise stronger, bigger, or faster than you, then the government has guaranteed through regulation that you are not only unarmed but also an easy target. "The right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." It seems like this should be easy enough to understand.

Let's assume, however, that the carry provisions we are talking about are fair in their access to every citizen. The first question that must be answered is, "Why does the government think it has the right to tell a law-abiding citizen how they may go about protecting themselves?" Some may feel that the best way to defend yourself is by letting the criminals know that you are not an easy target. Most criminals look for the easiest and quickest route to their goal. There is nothing that will slow a criminal down faster than seeing a loaded gun at the ready.

We have seen this principle supported by those who often carry goods such as door-to-door salesmen or jewelry peddlers. Street vendors who have the option to show their firearms see fewer attempts at their goods. If it works for these groups of people, then what's to say that it won't work for otherwise defenseless-looking people who would appear that way if not for the hand cannon attached to their hip.

[Check out U.S. News Debate Club: Are Stand Your Ground Laws a Good Idea?]

Another practical application illustrating the benefit of a citizen to openly carry would be that of disassociation. It takes little recognition to verify that most criminals want to conceal their intentions and their desires. An argument has been made that openly carrying firearms gives criminals the same ability. The reality is that criminals, even those who are not committing crimes, do not want to do anything that draws attention to them. However, because of the negative connotations associated with firearms, born mainly of unjustified fear of the unknown, law-abiding citizens feel it necessary to conceal so that others feel more comfortable around them. Ideally it would be great to see a situation where an openly carried firearm would not associate one with fear but rather with personal responsibility.

When I think about a world full of so much violence I wish for many things. I wish that there weren't people who take advantage of the weak. I wish I could tell my two little girls that they don't need to worry about bad guys in the world. I wish that I could trust my life in the hands of a police officer who is 10 minutes away. I wish that I did not feel the necessity to carry a firearm. But my true sentiments are summarized in the little quip: I carry a gun because a cop is too heavy, and hopefully where everyone can see.

Ralph Shortey

About Ralph Shortey Republican State Senator in Oklahoma

gun control and gun rights
Second Amendment

Other Arguments

1,309 Pts
An Armed Society is Truly a Polite Society

Yes – An Armed Society is Truly a Polite Society

Jerry Henry Executive Director for GeorgiaCarry.Org

1,012 Pts
Open Carry Laws Benefit Public Safety

Yes – Open Carry Laws Benefit Public Safety

John Pierce Co-founder of

916 Pts
In Parts of the Country, Open Carry Hardly Raises an Eyebrow
859 Pts
Open Carry Deters Crime

Yes – Open Carry Deters Crime

Larry Pratt Executive Director of Gun Owners of America

-1,016 Pts
Open Carrying: Provocative Conduct, Dangerous Consequences

No – Open Carrying: Provocative Conduct, Dangerous Consequences

Lindsay Nichols Staff Attorney with Legal Community Against Violence

-1,022 Pts
Open Carry Is an Invitation to Chaos

No – Open Carry Is an Invitation to Chaos

Constance N. Johnson Democratic State Senator in Oklahoma

-1,030 Pts
Guns, Carried Openly or Concealed, Threaten Our Safety

No – Guns, Carried Openly or Concealed, Threaten Our Safety

Josh Sugarmann Founder and Executive Director of the Violence Policy Center

-1,051 Pts
Carrying a Firearm Puts the Community at Risk

No – Carrying a Firearm Puts the Community at Risk

Joshua Horwitz Executive Director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence

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