Bob asked several good questions on Thoughts on concealed carry II where my answers started taking up quite a bit of space in the comments on that post, so rather than have a huge block of text there, I decided to answer them as another post because it made more sense, and there's a chance that a third reader of my blog will see it and hopefully it'll be useful. So, here's my answers. Bear in mind, these are my thoughts, and its a way, not the way. YMMV.
What I'm wondering is why do you feel the person Open Carrying was 'drawing unneeded attention'? Bear in mind, I was speaking of an incident in TN. In that state, open carry is only legal with a permit; the very same permit that allows concealed carry. Because of that, open carry in TN is VERY rare. Its almost an invitation to get FI'd (Field Interviewed) and perhaps detained in handcuffs by Clarksville PD. In a state where open carry is common, it's not a big deal. In a state where its not, open carry, when one could be carrying concealed, is opening oneself up to be harassed. Its a case of "just because you can doesn't mean you should". That's not to say that's going to happen, but the possibility is certainly there, and a lot more likely than if one is doing a decent job of concealed carry.
I actually was FI'd once while I was carrying concealed. The alarm at the shop had gone off, so I went to reset it. The alarm company called the Police to respond, who showed up as I was locking up the building again. I explained who I was, what caused the alarm, and that I'd reset it. The responding officer verified who I was, because he and the other officer that responded were probably the only guys in the area that I didn't know yet, or at least didn't know who I was. The whole time while he was calling in my information. I kept my hands in front of me, fingertip to fingertip, looking a lot like a very tall Spock. I gave him my license, but neglected to give him my permit at the same time, which I should have. He didn't ask, I didn't tell because he didn't ask, and the whole situation went down with no drama at all. Same would have happened if I had given him my CCDW license, because I was where I was supposed to be, doing what I was supposed to do. Carrying means being even more vigilant than the average person to be within the law.
understand some people feel that Open Carry puts a target on your back
but isn't it just as likely that Open Carry means people will leave them
alone going for the easier target? Who's the easier target? The guy who's carrying concealed and you can't tell, or the guy who you know has a gun? What if there's three of 'em and they see this particular guy doesn't have his head on a swivel (I've seen it a lot from people carrying, both open carry and concealed). Doesn't that make him the easy mark now? There's really nothing beyond supposition that says it's any kind of deterrent. Lots of very experienced members of the law enforcement community have as many examples where it was no deterrent at all as when it might have been. It falls under the "facts not in evidence" heading. Many of the people I see open carrying are carrying non-duty quality firearms in cheap holsters, which generally means they haven't invested in getting trained, either, and aren't invested in their protection in any other way. Carrying a gun isn't the Ark of the Covenant, it's just another tool in the force escalation continuum.
Second, why would you assume someone carrying "might" be breaking the law? Again, bear in mind where the incident in question happened: in a military town on the border of two states with fairly different laws concerning the carriage of defensive weapons. Chances are good, based on nearly ten year's experience working with the military community, that this person in question was ignorant of the law. That store isn't all that far inside TN, and what's legal a couple miles down the road isn't legal there. If he doesn't have a permit from a state with reciprocity, carrying a gun open or concealed is illegal. If he does, why open carry, which I stated before is very rare in TN, when he can carry concealed? Again, just because you can doesn't mean you should.
Would you assume someone walking down the street with a child might be abducting the child? Maybe. That would be totally situation dependent. Circumstances surrounding would determine whether something in need of investigation would be required, and there are several ways to handle that if it is. I have a lot of local PD officer's cell numbers saved in my phone. If there's something worth investigating, they can get a unit sent to check it out, with probable cause.
Or someone with a camera might be taking cihld pron (deliberate misspelling) ? I appreciate that; thanks. Again, it would be a totality of the circumstances that would determine that. It's a matter of developing the situational awareness to be able to see what's what. That takes practice, and I learned it a couple ways: first, nearly 25 years in retail, and several more years in the service sector. Second, I made it a point to watch people and observe without being observed. I learned that by walking around and taking a seat at malls, parks, amusement parks, sporting events, and like that. It takes effort, but it pays off.
with rights come responsibility, and just because the state issues you a
permit after completing the class on the law regarding carrying,
doesn't mean you're now an expert on carrying. You become expert through
practice and repetition.
I find that sentiment to be at odds with the impression I'm getting of Open Carry.
How could he become an expert without practice or repetition? There is no other way. There's information to be had from experienced and expert people, and I'm blessed to have much better sources to get information from than most everyone else, but it is out there if diligent searching is undertaken. What is generally found is that expert and experienced people have a lot of agreement in what they do. Add to that practice that involves careful observation and examination of what one is doing, and eventually expertise is gained. That's equipment choice, situational awareness, and other tools to use in personal defense; all that stuff matters and has to be examined. Some people just stuff a gun in a holster and go about their daily lives in blissful ignorance of what's going on around them, just like they did before they get their permit. The ones that become expert in it treat it like any other field of endeavor and become students of it, get trained to do it. What I was getting at is that the class teaches the law regarding carry, not the logistics and all the ins and outs of actually carrying every day. But, if the option to carry concealed is there, why open carry? Doesn't make sense.
Thanks for the questions, Bob. Hope that helps explain where I'm coming from. As always, YMMV.