Rights, Exercise With Caution

The dialogue surrounding the possible passage of an open carry law in Texas reminds OneOldCop of a question moms loved to ask once upon a time. Kids would come running in asking to do something foolish, and mom would say, “No!” The child in question would inevitably say, “Mom! Everyone else is doing it.” After a moment of frigid silence, the mom would say sarcastically, “If everyone jumped off a cliff, would you want to jump off it too?”

It seems that reasoning, everyone else is doing it, is being used by some proponents of this legislation. One can read or hear many comments about the fact that “Forty-four other states already allow it!”  Now that’s a wonderful reason to jump off a cliff, forty-four others have already done it.

Please do not consider the comments above to mean this writer is opposed to open carry.  It is unlikely that this writer will take advantage of any open carry legislation.  However, my decision is not based on opposition.  It is simply one of those been-there-done-that attitudes.  And, I do have the T-shirt.  This writer carried a weapon every day for the better part of three decades.

That does not mean this writer is not in favor of the proposal. It just means, I will continue to keep my sidearm concealed. Open carry, even for a uniformed police officer, includes a good deal of responsibility and stress.  While this writer will not be jumping off the cliff of open carry, I am not jumping on the hysteria band wagon either.  Citizens who want to carry a weapon openly for self-defense should have that right. Those who want to carry for another reason need to review George Zimmerman’s life since the night he killed Trayvon Martin.

Still, the fear that open carry will lead to gunfights every time there is an argument borders on the Chicken Little side of alarm. Also, it is unlikely there will be a major outbreak of the screaming meemies because of open carry. People will be walking around exposing sidearm preferences, and advertising their ability to pay way too much for personal protection. Also, it is possible the “mine is bigger than yours,” and “don’t I look tough” crowds will start a new trend in firearm related bling and designer guns. Nickel plated or gold filigreed Buntline Specials might outsell the Apple Watch in some areas.

Gold inlaid Buntline Special

Gold inlaid Buntline Special

Yes, adjustment problems will surface. The number of licensees wanting to strut their stuff will cause headaches for police dispatchers and 9-1-1 operators. They will be dealing with an increase in “man with a gun” calls for a while. They will be asking and answering a lot of questions concerning why someone is walking around with a pistol on his or her hip. It will be some extra work for everyone on the job  for a time, but the world as we know it will not be threatened.

A few gun fights may occur. Unfortunately, there is nothing new in that. They happen pretty regularly across the country, and mostly in places where carrying weapons is tightly controlled.  In fact, one took place recently in the DFW Metroplex.  Between the two gun fighters and police at least thirty-eight shots were fired. For the record, the only people legally carrying that night were the cops.

It is true the risks to some people will increase when this law is passed. However, the people whose risks increase will not be the ones that worry most nay sayers. The average person will likely be at no greater risk from people carrying weapons than they are today. Even the bad guys will not be at much greater risk than they are today. In fact, bad guys might be a little better off for reasons that will be mentioned in a few lines.

The people most at risk when the law changes will be the folks carrying the guns. The increase may be minimal, but someone openly carrying a weapon will be increasing his or her risk of becoming a victim. Some will scoff at this last sentence, but it is true. It is especially true of those who think armed citizens are the cure for all of societies crime problems. It is even more true of those who think they personally are the answer to society’s crime problems. (Think George Zimmerman)

This writer was SWAT trained, a training officer, firearms instructor, field supervisor, and finally police chief. This writer’s experience includes almost three decades as a licensed peace officer, over fifty years experience with firearms, and a number of years working with and around police officers as a civilian. During that time, I have seen highly trained and experienced police officers drop their weapons, lose their weapons, accidentally discharge their weapons, and be involved in accidental shootings. Thankfully, in most cases, the accidental shooting was when the officer shot him or herself, and the injury was minor.

These police officers underwent hundreds of hours of training before they were allowed to carry a firearm. Then, if they were smart, they were continually learning about the dangers inherent in being visibly armed while working, and having a firearm with them almost every moment they were not working. If police officers can make the mistakes they do, including this writer, after training, practice and experience, how well will ordinary citizens with a few hours of training handle walking around with a loaded weapon on their hip?

Again, this writer is not opposed to the open carry concept. In fact, OneOldCop kind of likes it. If I happen to find myself in a situation where my concealed weapon might be needed for self protection or protection of a third party, I might have time to do something useful because the bad guys will be focusing on the hero with the Hogleg in his quick draw holster.  I can either find cover or get the heck out of there while calling 9-1-1. I’d rather be a live witness than a dead wanna be hero any day.

Okay! The last paragraph was a little tongue in cheek. However, there is truth in it. Carrying a weapon openly makes one a target. Anyone deciding to carry a weapon openly needs to think of the possible problems that come with that decision. Demanding and exercising one’s rights includes accepting the responsibility for actions taken under cover of those rights.

© S. E. Jackson – 2015

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