search
top

OC Tactical Soundness

Robb asks: “I cannot, for the life of me, comprehend the argument against Open Carry that states ‘I prefer the element of surprise’. Not against it being legal, mind you, just the argument about the act of openly carrying.”

For me I’m not sure it’s so much about the surprise part, so much as carrying the sidearm concealed increases my options. Surprise might be one of those options, but it’s just one. As long as the firearm is concealed, I get to choose whether, when and where it comes into the confrontation. If it’s openly carried, the attacker gets to choose that. Most people are offering up the example of the local Stop and Rob, and that’s certainly one possible scenario, but I can think of others. I may not want to introduce deadly force into a confrontation only involving physical force, but that suddenly changes if that person goes for a grab. I don’t really want to be in a situation, before a jury, arguing with a witness or survivor who disputes my claim that he was going for the gun, which is why, ladies and gentleman of the jury, I shot an unarmed man over a potential fist fight. I also generally don’t want to have to worry about a retention situation in a crowd, in line at the store, or any number of other scenarios that can be imagined.

I tend to think anecdotes are of limited value in debates like this. The fact is that most of us are in demographics that are incredibly unlikely to ever need to use a firearm in a self-defense situation, so the sample sets aren’t very representative. Most people who OC will probably do so their whole lives without a problem, and the same goes for people who conceal carry. But for me, I consider the tactical advantages to keeping the firearm concealed to outweigh the advantages of carrying it openly. I think he primary tactical advantage of OC is visual deterrence, but I’ve never wanted to risk the possibility of encountering the type of criminal who is not impressed by the display of a firearm.

UPDATE: More here. Robb notes, “There’s also the great advantage that, should the bodily waste impact the air moving device, you have options to engage / not engage that might not be there with OC (a rare, rare, rare, rare thing, but definitely in the realm of possibility).” I’m not sure that’s so rare. The most likely scenario I think most folks are likely to encounter is an unruly drunk, or some other tough guy, who might decide to start a confrontation before noticing your pistol. I don’t want to be in the situation of having to hope for good judgement on his part as to where the whole thing escalates from there. I’m not sure most confrontations start out as such clear deadly force situations. There’s usually an escalation to deadly force, and I tend to think it’s better to have options at each stage, without necessarily revealing the trump card unless the situation has gotten to that point.

36 Responses to “OC Tactical Soundness”

  1. He’s not discussing what you think he’s discussing. He’s saying that when people say that having a concealed gun will “surprise” the attacker, they’re using the word incorrectly.

    If you are reacting to a threat already presented, you’re not surprising that threat. You’re reacting to the threat.

    • Sebastian says:

      Well, ideally I’d like not to surprise an attacker. If the situation has turned dire enough that it’s time to bring the gun into the conflict, I’d prefer his notice to be a bang. But that doesn’t make sense to me. No one has ever surprised anyone else in a fight, gunfight, dogfight, etc? I mean, you could probably argue that the bombing of Hiroshima was reacting to the threat, but it probably also surprised the hell out of the Japanese.

      • Like I said on his blog, the idea that the criminal is going to notice you have an OC gun is just silly. There was an incident when the criminal walked past the guy OCing a Single Action Army in a cowboy rig and shot the store owner. The SAA carrier won the gunfight.

        And how many times have we seen stories about idiots trying to rob the store while a cop is standing behind them in line?

        • Sebastian says:

          I don’t deny there are unobservant criminals out there, just like there are unobservant people. But I’m not willing to take the chance that they are all unobservant, or that they are unobservant when they start a confrontation, and then suddenly notice.

  2. mike says:

    I don’t OC because where I live, it’s pretty much for attention whores only. Concealed carry has the added advantage of not converting fence-sitters into anti-gunners.

    • Archer says:

      I agree, and it’s why CC is the preferred method in my area, too. OC is generally for attention whores, hunters, and pro-gun rallies.

      But the discussion over there is about whether or not a “tactical” (i.e. in the SHTF moment) advantage exists relating to the “element of surprise” to justify CC vs. OC. So far there is none; all evidence presented is thought-experimental and anecdotal, and refuted by other thought experiments and anecdotes.

    • Patrick H says:

      I don’t OC because where I live, it’s pretty much for attention whores only.

      Nope, its for people who understand rights too.

      Concealed carry has the added advantage of not converting fence-sitters into anti-gunners.

      Except OC doesn’t do that either. In fact, it might make them pro-gunners.

      0 for 2 buddy.

      • mike says:

        That’s how they expanded OC in California, right? And why all those coffee shops now welcome OCers? Because of all those people the OCing converted?

        OC may be fine in some places. But not where I live. Where I live, the police will be responding to a bunch of frantic “Man with a gun” calls. So, the people who OC here knowing this may understand their rights as well as the rest of us, while also being attention whores.

        Saying that people where I live to OC do it to be attention whores isn’t the same as saying that people OC to be attention whores. I don’t think you realize that. I’m not criticizing OC or you, just attention whores. Unless you OC where I live, in which case you’d be an attention whore.

        • So apparently you have no idea what’s going on in California. That’s not surprising. It appears that you are falling prey to that all too human belief that “if you can’t control our enemies, let’s control our friends.”

          California now has no effective method of carrying a firearm outside the home for immediate self defense purposes. That’s a good thing. Of course, some foolish people would argue that it’s better to have the theoretical ability to do something, but in practice not be allowed to do it than it is to not even have the theoretical ability.

          So let me clue you in. So long as unloaded open carry was allowed, California could claim that it was good enough. Then when they banned that the people went to open carry of long guns. So California banned that as well. Now there is absolutely no possibility for people in most counties in California to carry a firearm for immediate self defense outside the home. California now has ZERO right to bear arms.

          You might, upon careful reading of the Second Amendment, have noticed that it guarantees (not gives) the right not only to keep arms, but also to BEAR arms. California has basically banned bearing arms. It used to be a matter of degree. “well, we only banned it a little.” Not it’s total. And a total ban will never stand.

          So stop blaming the people who were exercising their rights. Start blaming the people who took those rights away. You sound like a petulant child when you publicly announce “All you stupid Californians should have just gone unarmed rather than exercise the only rights you thought you had.” You don’t get to make that choice for them and more than the anti-gunners get to make that choice for you.

          • mike says:

            Let me clue you in. California has an effective method of carrying – it’s called “concealed”. They used to have open carry too, until the OC nuts got that all nice and banned for them.

            There is nothing unique about California’s may issue status versus the other 8 or so states that are also may issue. So how is it some massive game changer to go from a may issue state with OC to being a may issue state without OC? Because now they can argue that nobody can exercise their rights? Kinda like folks in a bunch of other may issue states where OC is also licensed or prohibited?

            Give me a break. You’re trying to paint them as grand chess masters manipulating the state into falling for their ingenious plan. In fact, a bunch of idiots got smacked down and the law changed for acting like idiots. Being an apologist for them just encourages more idiots. I suppose Starbucks (and every other establishment they’ve convinced to change their policy) is also falling nicely into line?

            Is part of the OC code to never, ever admit to actual mistakes that cause demonstrable harm, at all cost? Learning from mistakes is a good way to avoid repeating them. For instance, when the OC rallies got guns banned from Peet’s, they should have regrouped and said “Maybe that wasn’t a good idea after all.” Instead, they just kept going down the list getting guns banned from more places until Starbucks didn’t immediately ban them, so the loons kept at it for what a year or so, and even plastered guns all over their Facebook page Every. Single. Day. until they finally had enough and also banned them. Did they find a new retailer to target for “normalizing” yet? Please, enlighten us.

            • “California has an effective method of carrying – it’s called “concealed””

              Oh really? Go to California and get a concealed handgun permit in Los Angeles or San Francisco without being a celebutard or a left wing politician.

              Once you’ve done that, get back to me on their “effective method of carrying.”

              For everyone else, there is no way to get a concealed carry permit outside of a couple of rural counties that got tired of being sued by CalGuns. That means that there is no effective way to carry a firearm for immediate self defense outside the home. And guess what? We have that right. It will take time to get it before the Supreme Court, but the idea that the right to bear arms has no meaning is insupportable.

              And also, what kind of jackass tells people that they shouldn’t exercise their rights lest they get their rights taken away? Only someone who has his head so far up his backside that he can’t even understand that if you can’t exercise your rights, THEN YOU DON’T HAVE ANY.

              Face it. You just hate OC. You’ve decided what you’ve decided and it’s under the bus with anyone who thinks differently. Damn everyone but you because you’re scared that if they exercise their rights then you’ll may possibly be required to justify your own. You’ve got yours and damn the people in California. Selfish.

              • mike says:

                I appreciate that you entirely missed the point of what I was saying, while also not commenting on the strategy of getting OC banned from as many establishments as possible.

                I imagine it’s as hard to get a carry permit in LA as it is in NYC. Again, my point is that they didn’t gain any game changing legal status that put them in a unique position to challenge the laws for constitutional violations. They just joined a group of other states in the same position already. I’m not making any judgement as to whether may issue can be challenged, I’m just pointing out the absurdity of your claim that because of them screwing themselves out of OC in CA, now the 2A community can finally show standing to challenge the laws.

                You’re trying to polish a turd. I get that. But the problem with that is that you’re encouraging more turds. Peet’s banned us! I know, let’s go to California Pizza Kitchen! Oh no, now they banned us too! Let’s go to Starbucks instead! And so on and so on..

                • Patrick H says:

                  Man you got PWNED.

                  Sean showed you for who you are: someone who hates OC and hates people exercising their rights. So they got banned from establishments. Well if they can’t exercise their rights they- they were ALREADY banned. How hard is that to understand ? Having rights you can’t exercise means nothing.

                • So Mike, in view of Peruta vs. San Diego, where the deciding judge said this

                  “To put it simply, concealed carry per se does not fall outside the scope of the right to bear arms; but insistence upon a particular mode of carry does. As we have explained previously, this is not the latter type of case. Peruta seeks a concealed carry permit because that is the only type of permit available in the state. As the California legislature has limited its permitting scheme to concealed carry—and has thus expressed a preference for that manner of arms-bearing—a narrow challenge to the San Diego County regulations on concealed carry, rather than a broad challenge to the state-wide ban on open carry, is permissible.”

                  Care to retract your statement?

                  Let me translate the JudgeSpeak.

                  “Peruta would like to carry a gun. California says, 1. You have to carry concealed. 2. You have to have a license & 3. You can’t have a license. This is BS, because regulations cannot amount to a destruction of the right. Overturned.”

                  Even the dissent said that if OC was legal in California Peruta wouldn’t have a case.

                  “Indeed, if California did not restrict open carry, Plaintiffs would have no cause for complaint.”

                  So the “Grand Chess Masters” win. Care to hate a little more on the “OC Attention Whores(tm)?”

                  • mike says:

                    Wow, seriously?

                    FWIW, I usually don’t subscribe to the email updates, so I hope you haven’t been running around trying to resurrect too many of these old discussions.

  3. Roger says:

    Ok I’m an open carry guy. In my area it’s not an issue with the LEO or the vast majority of the public. Mostly I open carry because I can get in the fight much faster. I work on the assumption that should I need it it is a fast reaction situation. If I knew something bad was going to happen in a particular place, I would be elsewhere. And that is my opinion and I will not force it on anyone. Nor will I allow you to force yours on me.

  4. Richard says:

    I mostly CC for the reasons you state but occasionally OC, like carrying a pack in areas where it is normal. Once, I made an agressive tweeker go away by turning my body so he could see the OC. So, I think the answer is “it depends”.

  5. doran says:

    OC will alarm Mrs. Grundy, who will have the vapors, with or without police intervention.

    CC what Mrs Grundy doesn’t know won’t hurt her or me.

  6. benEzra says:

    I think he is using the term “surprise” in a more limited sense (perhaps a military sense) than most of us who have used that phrase mean by it.

    Perhaps a better term than “surprise” (at least the way he is using it) is “opsec”. Good CC denies a potential attacker some information he could use to plan a more effective attack, if he is so inclined. It also makes “verbally de-escalate” and “pepper spray” situations, which are undoubtedly more common than “draw-and-shoot” situations, a little more straightforward, in my opinion.

    Not does good CC compromise speed of presentation all that much, if the OC’er is using a decent retention holster, I’d think.

    (And yes, I’m in the usually-CC’s-unless-circumstances-dictate-OC camp.

  7. patrick says:

    Not sure why we keep flogging this horse. I think the majority of gunnies agree that manner of carry should be a personal choice. All the argument I see is generally started in reaction to some drama whoring that hurts OC more than help it.

    I think most of us agree the core right should include choice and respect responsible people when they make theirs.

    I prefer CC for myself. Yet yesterday the wife and I were at the range and she told her visiting brother that she would OC her FNX-40 if she could. I respect her choice even if that gun would look like a cannon on a sub-100 pound woman. The key thing is she would never OC the gun at someone (borrowing a term from Tam, if I may).

    I think arguments about so-called tactical soundness are really just cover (for either perspective) to either just have a fun conversation or to pine for the respect that should be owed our choices by the powers that be.

    Our right is not defined by ‘tactical soundness’. Manner of carry should be our choice, per individual, and we need to work to make that as real as we can.

    • Sebastian says:

      I agree this is separate from the legal and political issue.

      • Patrick says:

        Yeah, my bad. For some reason I thought I’d be able to tame some of the reaction.

        I have come to realize this is the new “45 versus 9mm” for our community, since caliber wars jumped the shark a few years ago. I’m just glad we’ve moved past the zombie rush. That shark didn’t come fast enough.

        So I guess we just argue onward and upward. I have a little side bet on what the next flame war will be (post-OC, of course). I am going to go all out and say customized guns with pink or pearl inlays. I hate those things, even if my wife has both a pink LCP and a pink AR.

        The good news is I can practice my Kung-Fu Ad Arguendo with her, while everyone else works through OC and catches up.

        ;)

  8. Robb Allen says:

    I have clarified my clarification (and am assured people will not read that either and comment anyway).

    To me, surprise means ambush. Luring a criminal into a situation that he *thinks* is in his advantage then indicating he had been suckered. Surprise (as I was reading it) was an *offensive* move and was thought of that the ability to surprise an attacker would limit the attacker’s decision to actually attack.

    That’s not what it means to most people. So I now understand.

    I think most of the fears surrounding OC are waaaaaaaay overblown. The two big ones are “you’ll be targeted!” to which there is no data (yes, there are 1 or 2 stories you can link to, but that’s anecdotal, not a statistical trend) and “you’ll scare Suzy McSoccerMom”. If you’re just carrying to carry and not looking for shoving your heater in everyone’s face, generally nobody will notice. In FL, we host OC fishing events and most of the time people just walk by with their kids and never even look twice.

    That being said, OC is good for some people in some situations. CC is good for other people in similar, but different situations. And no matter how solid you think your logic is about your particular carry method, it isn’t. It might work for you, it doesn’t necessarily work for others.

    For some reason, pointing this out is seen as an attack on [X] carry.

  9. Bob S. says:

    As long as the firearm is concealed, I get to choose whether, when and where it comes into the confrontation.

    Didn’t work out that way for Zimmerman according to his testimony; did it?

    Yes, that is an anecdote. I realize that but it is illustrative that there are no absolutes in life.

    If it’s openly carried, the attacker gets to choose that.

    Help me understand how the attacker can make you do something if you Open Carry versus Concealed Carry?

    You still control the firearm; when you use it, if you use it, if you stick around, etc.

    I may not want to introduce deadly force into a confrontation only involving physical force, but that suddenly changes if that person goes for a grab.

    Again see Zimmerman for an example but there are others. I would find it highly doubtful that a firearm would go unnoticed in a physical confrontation for long.
    But that is a possibility, I’ll grant that. The question each person must ask and answer is the possibility of a.) being involved in an incident, b.) being involved physically, then c.) the criminal/attacker making a grab for a firearm is statistically higher than the advantages of possibly reducing violence before it starts and being able to deploy a firearm faster.

    Each person gets to make their choices and hurrah for that option.

    If the situation has turned dire enough that it’s time to bring the gun into the conflict, I’d prefer his notice to be a bang. But that doesn’t make sense to me.

    I think what Robb and Sean are getting at is the ‘surprise’ advantage has a very limited window of opportunity to turn the tide in a situation.

    If an attacker comes out of no where, then suddenly pulling a firearm out from concealment might help — if it can be done quickly enough. Given the previous observations about an attacker noticing OC — not sure how great the difference would be.

    If an attacker sets up, interviews, approaches, etc an aware and responding gun owner; I think the advantage of surprise is much less. The gun owner probably has already made it known (through voice commands, shifts in body posture, etc) that (s)he is prepared to fight.

    Again – how much a person wants to depend on that difference in surprise is up to them…but isn’t that what Robb is trying to point out?

    • Sebastian says:

      Didn’t work out that way for Zimmerman according to his testimony; did it?
      Yes, that is an anecdote. I realize that but it is illustrative that there are no absolutes in life.

      Zimmerman had to bring the gun into play when it became visible to Martin and he went for a grab? There are not a lot of options when you’re on the ground being pummeled.

      Help me understand how the attacker can make you do something if you Open Carry versus Concealed Carry?

      Easy, he goes for a grab, immediately engages you before you’ve had a chance to assess whether there is any cover, or at least some concealment, or otherwise tries to disarm you. What if the guy planning to rob the place is directly behind you in line?

      You still control the firearm; when you use it, if you use it, if you stick around, etc.

      You still control the firearm, but there’s a strong likelihood the fact that you’re armed is known. Even if the robber is unobservant, do you want a bystander saying something?

      Again see Zimmerman for an example but there are others. I would find it highly doubtful that a firearm would go unnoticed in a physical confrontation for long.

      There is always a possibility that a concealed firearm becomes unconcealed in a physical confrontation. But if the physical force confrontation ends without deadly force coming into play, because, say, I pepper sprayed the attacker, I’m really much much better off if that guy doesn’t know I’m armed when the police come to start asking questions.

      But that is a possibility, I’ll grant that. The question each person must ask and answer is the possibility of a.) being involved in an incident, b.) being involved physically, then c.) the criminal/attacker making a grab for a firearm is statistically higher than the advantages of possibly reducing violence before it starts and being able to deploy a firearm faster.

      I think deterrence is a real advantage of OC. I’m not sure the draw time is that much of a big deal. I tend to think if you aren’t able to draw from concealment quickly, you need to rethink your carry method.

      Each person gets to make their choices and hurrah for that option.

      I agree. It’s no skin off my back if someone weights the advantages and disadvantages and arrives at a different conclusion.

      I think what Robb and Sean are getting at is the ‘surprise’ advantage has a very limited window of opportunity to turn the tide in a situation.

      I think they were speaking of a different definition of surprise than we were thinking.

      If an attacker comes out of no where, then suddenly pulling a firearm out from concealment might help — if it can be done quickly enough. Given the previous observations about an attacker noticing OC — not sure how great the difference would be.

      There are plenty of scenarios you can think up where OC v CC is a wash or where you could imagine and advantage to either. You could probably imagine that if Zimmerman had been OCing, maybe Trayvon would have decided to just go home. Or maybe he wouldn’t have, and Zimmerman would have been in a retention fight from the get go.

      If an attacker sets up, interviews, approaches, etc an aware and responding gun owner; I think the advantage of surprise is much less. The gun owner probably has already made it known (through voice commands, shifts in body posture, etc) that (s)he is prepared to fight.
      Again – how much a person wants to depend on that difference in surprise is up to them…but isn’t that what Robb is trying to point out?

      I do think the deterrent aspect of OC is real. There are some criminal who will choose not to attack an openly armed man. I’d even agree it’s probably the vast majority of criminals. The limiting factors are that not all criminals are intimidated by the fact that someone is carrying a gun, and will just plan their attack around your gun, and not all criminals will notice it. Now, if during the whole confrontation they don’t notice it, whether it was concealed or not isn’t material. One of my issues is that there’s always a possibility a confrontation starts with the pistol unnoticed, and then during the confrontation it gets noticed. Once it’s noticed, depending on the attacker, I may or may not now be in a life or death situation, even if I may not have been before.

  10. The Heinlein saying about an armed society being a polite society has some bearing on when to OC. Unless there is a reasonable need to OC, it is likely that CC would be more polite. These days, about the only time I OC is while hunting.

  11. Carl from Chicago says:

    I am mostly in agreement with Patrick’s sentiments.

    I used to open carry, and don’t much anymore. Two incidents 6 years apart generally turned me off to OC.

    The first incident was in a gas station parking lot. Group of rough-looking “skinhead” types were standing around a truck. They noticed my gun, and one turned to show me the tattoo on his back … in big block letters it said “FUCK THE POLICE.” I don’t know if they thought I was police, but they glared at me and shook their heads. It was just attention that I didn’t want. The kind of attention that can start something you don’t want.

    Second incident was also in a gas station lot. I was filling with gas, and some teenaged guy hollers at me from ACROSS the lot “Hey, is that a 9 mil?” I shook my head. Then he hollers “is it a Glock fo-tay?” I shook my head. “Well, what kind of gun is it?” I mean, he was hollering, folks were looking. It was attention that I didn’t want … the kind of attention that could potentially lead to trouble.

    Since those times, I did some honest introspection, and concluded I was OC’ing mostly because I wanted attention … at first just because I thought I was cool, and then later because I thought it was a good way to educate folks and “normalize” the practice. I am not here to tell anyone else how they should carry, or why they should carry. But I am here to tell MY perspective … which is that OC drew unwanted attention to me, and to the fact I was armed.

    I am armed, and I know that I am armed. I do it for safety of myself and others. That others don’t know I am armed is the way I prefer it. Discretion is the better part of valor.

  12. Jacob says:

    I agree completely. Even if my opinion hadn’t been influenced by all these idiots carrying rifles into shopping malls, concealed carry is much more versatile.

  13. MrPickle says:

    You guys in the suburbs and out in the country may get away with open carry, but I can tell you with 110% certainty that you will get your ass beaten and your gun will be stolen right from your holster if you open carry in the city long enough. Urban thugs are not intimidated by that gun you display on your size 42 waistline and they will ambush your Honkey chicken-farmer ass before you can react. Open carry in an urban environment makes about as much sense as a football bat.

    • Kirk Parker says:

      Unless that city is Seattle, where the cops are well-trained about OC and those who do, go about their business w/no hassle.

  14. Carl from Chicago says:

    I am disheartened by the displays of hostility sprinkled throughout this thread. I understand the points of contention, but I am still disheartened by the hostility towards one another.

    • mike says:

      amiright? Gun owners are working to disarm other gun owners by helping the anti-gun movement drum up public support for gun bans, and then when anyone points out the very real consequences of their actions, they get hostile and accuse people of hating freedom or whatever.

      If goes a little something like this:

      “Sure we disarmed millions of people by prompting legislatures and private businesses to act. But if you disagree with our very poorly thought out methods, you must hate freedom! Also, your mom wears combat boots.”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. SayUncle » Open carry v. concealed: Hey, it’s this again! - […] prefer concealed carry for exactly the reasons here. I have open carried a few times. The experience was very…
top