An “open” letter to my fellow gun owners

Dear Fellow Gun Owners,

I posed a question to a local law enforcement officer and asked him when he last arrested a criminal carrying a holstered firearm openly. He paused for a moment and admitted he couldn’t remember. I have gotten similar responses from other police officers I have asked that question and the reason is very simple: criminals don’t open carry.

Openly carrying a firearm gets some mixed responses from the public and police. While most will agree it is legal and it is your right they often decry open carry based on so-called “common sense” arguments that present themselves as rational and reasonable. I will show you they are nothing of the sort.

One of these arguments is that a criminal will take your gun or see your gun and it will make you a target. However, if you look at studies done by the Department of Justice 57% of criminals polled in prison say they fear one thing more than police…an armed citizen. Most criminals are not looking to make their job more difficult. They want easy targets and don’t want to risk their own lives. So, more times than not, openly carrying a firearm will actually deter a crime before it happens. If you happen to be concealing your gun, you will just appear like everyone else, and in a situation where you have to draw your gun and fire it in defense your risk factor goes up substantially when the situation might have been avoided altogether had the assailants seen you were armed to begin with.

If you happen to think this is mere bunk then you might want to talk to the police in Kennesaw, GA who arrested a group of armed criminals outside a Waffle House who had told the police they decided not to rob the business because one of them who was sent in to scout saw two men openly carrying firearms.

An analogy to clarify this idea is to look around at all those little signs in people’s yards letting everyone know their home is protected by a security system. They “advertise” like this to let any potential criminal know that they should move on to the next house because their home is protected. Open carry is a gun owners way of doing exactly the same thing.

Open Carry deters crime.

Another word of wisdom from the “common sense” crowd is that people can be frightened by your gun and it might draw negative attention from the public. While this may be true on its face due to sheer ignorance, when I ask people, “Don’t you want to know who has a gun around you?”, most will admit that they do.

In the past, concealing a weapon was a crime while openly carrying a gun or other weapons was the sign of a gentleman or an honest citizen exercising his right to bear arms. Only in modern times has that role been reversed and indeed to the detriment of public safety and to the rights of gun owners. I do respect the desire to carry concealed but in context it should be considered the more deviant method to carry a weapon as it is the chosen method of criminals. Openly carrying a firearm is a sign that you have nothing to hide and that you are simply an honest, law abiding citizen carrying a gun for self defense.

Criminals conceal, law abiding citizens carry openly.

Finally, we come to the conceited wisdom that those of us who open carry are going to ruin it for everyone else and make the government pass laws that further restrict the right to keep and bear arms.

First of all, please provide one example of this occurring here in Pennsylvania. Not only can you not provide such an example, it is more likely that we have had encroaching laws that violate our second amendment because gun owners have not been visible exercising their rights. I am sure the individuals offering their saged advice would have condemned Rosa Parks for not taking the back seat because she was generating negative attention to the rights of African Americans. It amazes me to see fellow gun owners condemning legal, responsible activity that helps educate the public on gun rights.

Secondly, the idea that we should lay low and not alert anyone to our rights only serves those who blossom from ignorance and seek to slowly strip away our rights piece by piece. Ask the gun owners of England and Australia how that worked out for them.

Open carry educates the public.

While I am making these points let me make it clear that I do not condemn anyone for how they choose to exercise their right to bear arms. I simply hope that someone who has bought into the argument that those who open carry are irresponsible and harming the second amendment will take a second look at the facts and apply some real common sense to their opinions instead of listening to those who would hide themselves in the shadows and demean those of us who are trying to help restore the right to bear arms to its rightful place in society as a respectable and responsible activity that no one need fear or resent.

Be armed. Be safe.


Timothy Havener

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