There has been a lot of media attention to Walmart and Kroger asking people not to open carry in their stores. I don’t think for a minute they are foolish to think this makes them safer (I did see a video of a man successfully conceal and draw an AR-15 from his pants, it was impressive) but it does ease the nerves of the non-shooting public. Many on the open carry side argue that it is their right, assuming your state allows it, mine does. Yes, it is also the right of any establishment to impose a restriction. If Walmart announced you must wear a smiley face at all times in this store, they would be within their rights to limit access to the store or have you removed. I’ve read a lot from people who state they are going to challenge this. Why? It isn’t really a hardship if you have a permit to carry concealed. The argument is the greeters won’t be trained on how to handle it. That is likely true, and that ups the risk of challenging it. It is not a gun-free one, it is just a don’t ask don’t show zone.
I have friends who open carry, some of them are “in your face” types about it. Do I? Not unless there is a specific reason to and that is rare. One example is walking in the woods with my .38 loaded with snake shot. I hate snakes and really don’t want to lose the extra half second to access my gun. In light of recent events the non-gun public is more skittish than usual. Some who might have barely noticed before suddenly see a firearm as an active threat. This can lead to confrontations, unnecessary engagements with law enforcement, and even to being a target of someone who wants to take your gun. Many people carry without retention, saying it is faster. Yes, it is faster, faster for someone to take your gun from you.
I lived in the DC area in 2002 during the DC Sniper attacks. I watched people ducking and moving while getting gas for their cars. The area was held hostage to the fear. Was I statistically more likely to be hit by space debris than shot by the sniper? Sure, but the randomness was what terrified people. It is the same with mass shootings. People are afraid. Do we, as 2A supporters do more harm to our cause by scaring people unnecessarily?
In the end, it is a personal choice. I prefer concealment. I know it’s there, you don’t. I have the element of surprise is something happens. I’m not going to cause fear, or even panic, to a non-gun person. It isn’t just about us anymore.
Lynne Finch – I am the author of 4 books, available on Amazon, and at many major outlets. I have been contributing writer for Combat Handgun Magazine and Women and Guns Magazine.