OPD Insider

MAY 10, 2018



For those of you who carry a gun for self-defense, I’m sure you have asked yourself at one time or another if you should carry your defensive handgun concealed or open carry.  While both are legal, the process of getting a concealed carry permit takes time and a little effort.  It may seem easier to just open carry and skip the process of getting a permit.  Allow me to explain why that may not be the best choice.   

I am a 20 year veteran police officer and a firm believer in the 2nd amendment.  I carried a handgun concealed before I was a police officer, and I carry one concealed off duty every day of my life.  I believe that every law abiding American Citizen who chooses to own a gun should do so.  In addition, if you want to carry a gun to defend yourself, I would encourage that as well.  American citizens should take responsibility for their own safety.  Police officers would love to be there for anyone who is in danger, but the reality is we can’t.  A citizen must be able to defend themselves and their loved ones until the police are able to arrive.  

So, with that in mind what is the best way to carry your handgun?  I open carry my handgun when I am camping in the woods or riding my ATV.  When I am in an urban environment, however I always carry concealed.  I don’t think anyone should be restricted from open carrying.  I think that it’s a constitutional right to open carry and I believe that you should be able to make you own choice in carrying your handgun.  I just think in an urban environment it’s unwise to open carry.  Let me explain why.   

There are several reasons why I think open carry is not a good idea, but there are two main problems with open carry that I would like to discuss.  Police Officers are highly visible and are always on guard for a possible ambush.  Even so, you can’t be on alert 24/7, and it is possible to get caught off guard.  The same danger exists for a citizen who chooses to open carry.  While you may not be wearing a highly visible uniform, a visible handgun being openly worn by someone who is not in uniform can draw just as much attention.  A police officer is normally wearing body armor and carrying their sidearm in a multiple retention holster.  The open carry citizen will not be wearing body armor and will normally be carrying their handgun in a friction retention or maybe a thumb break holster. That’s important when weapon retention becomes a factor.  This leads to the first problem that I have with open carry.  Your weapon becomes more difficult to retain.   Given the low retention holsters that many citizens use, it would not be difficult for a criminal to approach an open carry citizen from behind and take their handgun before the citizen could react.  If the handgun were concealed the holster retention becomes less important because hopefully the criminal does not know the citizen is even carrying a handgun. 

The second reason I don’t like open carry is that it can make you a target.  In an armed robbery or active gunman situation the criminal initially has the advantage because he has the element of surprise and probably already has a plan of what he is going to do.  The greatest advantage the armed citizen has in these types of situations is the element of surprise.  This is far more important than the caliber or capacity of the handgun.  If the criminal does not know you are armed, then you get to choose the right moment to draw your handgun and stop the criminal.  If you are open carrying your handgun then it’s far more likely that the criminal will see that you are armed before he takes any action.  In that situation it’s reasonable to believe that the criminal would shoot the open carry citizen before he takes any other action.  The open carry citizen would be likely shot before he could react to anything the criminal was doing.  

As I stated before, I don’t think that a citizen should be restricted from open carry if they choose to arm themselves in that manner.  I just feel that concealed carry is the best option for carrying a handgun in an urban environment.  Open carry simply puts the citizen at a disadvantage in most shooting situations. 

Clint Christensen 

Born and raised in Ogden, Utah. 

19 year veteran police officer with the Ogden Police Department