Open carrying is the practice of carrying your gun in a non-concealed manner, setting this method apart from concealed carrying. While open carrying could potentially save your life, and the lives of those around you in an emergency situation, it is a hotly debated practice, and even illegal in some states.
If you are a gun owner who wishes to open carry in a state where it is legal, it is your responsibility to know your state gun laws forwards & backward and to be a responsible gun owner who respects the power of your weapon. Here are some questions to ask yourself when deciding to open carry.
Is my state an open carry state?
Before you open carry, you need to make sure that your state is an open carry state. Just because your state allows concealed carry, does not mean that it allows open carry. Currently, open carry is illegal in 5 states, plus the District of Columbia (Washington D.C.). These states are:
Even if a state allows open carry, there are often specifics that vary between states. You should see if your state open carry laws enforce the following:
- Handgun vs. long gun: Several states allow the open carry of handguns or long guns, but not both.
- Posted areas, schools, & businesses: Some states allow open carry, but not in posted areas. For example, Denver, Colorado is a posted area, so you can not open carry within city limits. Typically, carrying a gun, either openly or concealed, is illegal on school campuses, and carrying on the premises of a business is up to the discretion of the business owner, regardless of state law. Make sure that you know if open carry is acceptable when visiting a city or business.
- Loaded vs. unloaded: Some states allow open carry, but require you to carry an unloaded weapon. In states that allow you to open carry a loaded weapon, there might be limitations to the amount of ammunition you can carry with you.
A best practice for lawful open carry is to be very familiar with your state’s gun laws. Reading legalese can sound intimidating, but there are many resources out there that make gun laws accessible and easy to understand.
Does my state require an open carry permit or license?
After learning if you are allowed to open carry in your state, the next step is to determine if you need a permit to open carry. Currently, you can open carry without a permit in 31 states, but openly carried weapons might have to be unloaded. 15 states require some form of license or permit to openly carry a handgun.
Will I be traveling through state lines with my gun?
If you plan on traveling across state lines with your gun in tow, you need to make sure the states you are traveling to & through honor the permit you received from your home state. Even if your home state does not require a permit to open carry, other states do. Your home state will still issue permits on a Shall Issue basis so that you can be law abiding.
How can I open carry safely & responsibly?
While it is your right as an American citizen to bear arms, it is your responsibility to yourself and your fellow citizens to learn how to open carry safely and responsibly. Here are some ways to make sure that you comply with open carry best practices:
- Use a holster. Make sure that you use a holster with a trigger cover. A holster allows you to safely carry your gun while protecting the trigger from accidental discharge or someone else grabbing your gun. You can also consider a form of retention holster. These holsters are designed to thwart a gun grab attempt. In most states, you are required to use a holster (belt or shoulder) to open carry.
- Take a gun safety course. Even if you live in a state that does not require a permit to open-carry, it is in the best interest of yourself and those around you to educate yourself on how to handle your gun respectfully.
- Be respectful of the people around you. When you open carry, you will probably draw some looks and whispers. You are almost guaranteed to be seen by someone who does not agree with open carry. If someone confronts you, be respectful of their views, calmly explain your situation, and know when to walk away. Starting a heated argument and getting angry will do nothing to help yourself or your fellow open carriers.
The main reason that individuals choose to open carry is for self-defense in an emergency situation. Therefore you need to make sure that you are following open carry best practices so that your weapon does not become the cause of an emergency situation.
To learn more about open carry best practices and in-home concealment options for your gun, contact Down Home Crafts N Monograms.