Texas push for open carry

The Houston Chronicle has this story:

FORT WORTH — Despite the Lone Star State's love affair with the gun, there's at least one firearms restriction that some Texans want lifted.

Texas is just one of six states in which handguns can't be worn in plain view. The other 44 states, in the parlance of gun advocates, are known as "open-carry" states.

More than 3,500 people have signed an online petition asking Gov. Rick Perry and the Legislature to permit Texans to wear their handguns without concealing them. . . .

I guess that I don't have much more to add about open carry than I wrote previously. There are important benefits from carrying guns concealed, though I understand people's desire to make a statement and try to change other's views on guns. Prior to pushing for open carry, I would lower the fees and training requirements for people carrying concealed handguns.

Thanks to Scott Davis for sending me this link.

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Blogger Mike Stollenwerk said...

Well, there's more to open carry than "people's desire to make a statement and try to change other's views on guns." Open Carry has specific micro-economic deterrence value that concealed carry does not have. I once took a class on game theory by a Professor named Tom Schelling, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Schelling, and Tom used lots of examples in class to get us to think about common game theoretic problems and approaches. Once of them was collective self-defense in a town - what if people carried guns given a certain criminal element in that town. Tom suggested during the discussion that there was value to both open and concealed carry, but that they would probably work best deployed in combination - like a portfolio.

6/23/2008 9:35 PM  
Blogger John Lott said...

Dear Mike:

Thanks for the comment. Indeed, I have written about that before, but the problems that I was alluding to is that the criminals can then wait for the armed individual to leave the area or attack that person first. Obviously, the person who carries the gun can benefit, but to the extent that more open carry means fewer people carrying concealed, even with both types of carrying, open carry will result in more attacks on those who are not carrying guns. The only thing that I can think of is that if open carry provides the criminals with a better estimate of how many law-abiding citizens have guns or that the cost of switching between potential victims is particularly high. In the first case, I think that you would need to say something about why the criminals don't have weak form rational expectations. In the second, I don't know what evidence that you could really point to that supports that notion. I am not sure from your post what that benefit from open carry is.

Thanks very much for posting.

6/23/2008 9:59 PM  
Blogger John Lott said...

Dear Mike:

I see that you have been collecting data on open carry. If you have the dates that different states have changed their open carry rules in the last thirty years and you have sources for that information, I would be very interested in talking to you about looking at the date info.

6/23/2008 10:01 PM  
Blogger Conservatarian said...


I favor open carry by law for two reasons. First, if you are carrying concealed (by permit) and accidently print or otherwise inadvertently reveal, open carry protects you from claims of brandishing.

Second, open carrying discourages bad guys from attacking you. They want easier prey. And just because I am carrying openly, that doesn't mean (to the bad guy) that the person across the street isn't concealed. Let the bad guys worry that the neighborhood isn't safe for them.

My 2 cents.


6/23/2008 10:42 PM  
Blogger Mike Stollenwerk said...

John: I would be happy to help think about data - I don't think any state has per se legalized open carry in modern times - it simply always was legal as a matter of state law - but, several states have recently enacted full preemption of localities which has the practical effect of legalizing open carry throughout a state. In Virginia this occurred for permit holders in 2003 (HB 1516), and everyone in 2004 (HB 503). In Ohio, this happened in December 2006 with HB 347. And since then open carry has risen in both states as concealed carry continued to rise as well.

I think it will be hard to show thru data a rise in open carry causing a decline in crime, but the concept is sound – given that open carriers circulate in society, the criminal or terrorist is faced with a choice upon seeing one – either take him out, or, retreat. And knowing if you take out the open carrier, that a concealed carrier may be nearby, and alerted before you strike your REAL intended target.

6/23/2008 11:27 PM  
Blogger John Lott said...

Dear David:

I will state my point one more time. Sure there is deterrence for the person carrying the gun, but since the criminal merely moves on to another victim and the total level of crime might not change much you can have a bigger benefit from concealed carry. I would be happy to test this, but that is my guess about what is going on based on my research for multiple victim shootings.

6/23/2008 11:27 PM  
Blogger John Lott said...

Dear Mike:

That was definitely my understanding. So there might not be much that can be done here, but state pre-emption laws might be one way to look at it if you know what local places had rules that were effected.

6/24/2008 12:37 AM  
Blogger Mike Stollenwerk said...

It just downed on me - maybe John thinks open carry will result in less concealed carry? if so, that's not correct - open carry offers more options for carry so there is more carry, both concealed and open. Many open carriers do not have concealed handgun permits so their OCing does not take away from CC. Further, open carry rights give CCers more options, so instead of leaving their gun at home on hot days or times where they would rather OC, they will carry the gun. Further, OCing promotes knowledge about gun rights - hence more people take up the practice of carrying, concealed too.

6/24/2008 7:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I see merits, both politically and tactically, on both sides of the "open-carry" debate, we must acknowledge that such reasoned discussion cannot truly predict the seemingly infinite scenarios and variables that exist for the criminal mind to process when making their decisions. This alone suggests that such arguments are not strong enough to support prohibiting "open-carry".

My support for the legality of "open-carry" rests on the principle that in the absence of objective argument that conclusively demonstrates a public hazard from "open-carry", there can be no legitimacy found in laws that prohibit this aspect of individual liberty.

Given that there is no evidence to suggest a higher rate of accidents, incompetence or criminal victimization among the openly armed, it would seem that the reasons for continuing to outlaw the practice are on extremely unsound footings, and should rightly be abolished.

Personal choice - open or concealed.


6/24/2008 10:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When Texas passed its conceal carry law the anti-gun folks predicted the development of a wild west mentality and a bloodbath of Biblical proportions. That didn’t happen I believe the road to open carry in Texas is parallel to the one for concealed carry. Lacking any evidence that open carry would be adverse to the good order of society, I agree with Anonymous that it is an extension of our right to carry…concealed or otherwise. It would be interesting, though, to see the numbers from open carry states regarding increase/decrease of violent crime as well as accidental discharges and confrontations with people exercising their right to open carry.

I am a person of rather significant proportion and it is difficult for me to find a place to stash a 1911 that it doesn’t print. It would be nice, on the days I opted to carry a 1911, if I didn’t have to be concerned about printing. Other days when I carry a Ruger SP101, I have no problem concealing it quite comfortably. It would just be nice to have the choice.

7/24/2008 10:05 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Mr. Lott, I wish to comment on some points of yours that I feel you're still asserting in opposition to open carry. I'll try to keep it as short as possible but there are three main points I wish to address, and I'll try to explain my counterarguments in the same terms.

First off, let's make an analogy here; consider a person as a house or home. The degree to which one arms themselves against assailants, and how, could be roughly equated to the level of security of a home. The basic level, whatever a person feels they can do with bare hands or improvised weapons, would be locked doors. Everyone does it, criminals expect it and know how to circumvent or work through it. Martial arts training might be equated to high-security locks and doors; the same basic principles a criminal is used to, but a higher level of opposition. With the right tool or plan, not a big deal. The carry of weapons creates a security system, of increasing effectiveness; the criminal is less able to do whatever he does if you carry pepper spray, a knife, a whistle, etc. just like burglar bars, motion-sensing lights, and other amateur-level deterrents to thieves, until you reach the firearm, equivalent to a top-of-the-line, professionally installed, monitored system like ADT or Brinks. 99% effective at deterring criminals; those who still challenge it head-on are completely sociopathic. You still have to plan for them, but they compose a very small percentage, and like any security system, if someone who's supposed to get through can do so, so can someone who shouldn't. If someone really wants you dead, just like they really want your stuff, I hate to say it, but it's going to happen.

Having made that analogy, let's use it to compare OC and CC. The difference, as analogized, would be putting all the stickers they give you on each window, your front door, and the sign in the front yard. Concealed carry would be having the system but being discrete about it; no signs (it's against the homeowner's association bylaws after all). Both are equally effective when triggered, but the criminal is far less likely to even try to break in a home when the first thing he sees by the front door is that blue stop sign. That's open carry. It works because the overwhelming majority of criminals want an easy target and if you carry a weapon openly they know you are NOT an easy target.

Now, this much is nothing new in the debate. Your first counterargument to this, which I do not think has been addressed sufficiently, has been that criminals, knowing you are armed, are likely to take you out first. Throwing this into the analogy, someone who would be taken out in this scenario would be like a person who gets the system, installs the signs, then never arms the system. Back to gun carry, a person who could be taken by surprise like this would be in an unaware condition; Jeff Cooper coined the "color" system for handler awareness and would call it Condition White. The first rule of gun carry is that while you have it on, you must always be in a semi-active scanning pattern known as Condition Yellow; you don't expect a threat, but are on the lookout so you can quickly spot potential trouble. This is analagous to arming your security system; you don't expect a breakin, but you got the system cause it could concievably happen. Every gun carrier, even CHL holders, should always be in this slightly heightened state of awareness while they are carrying in public. It's a little extra effort, but with practice it becomes routine and you don't even think about it, and it drastically reduces the chance that someone will be able to get the jump on you.

Now, your second argument is that it will not produce a measureable decrease in crime because if one target is armed, the criminal can simply choose a different target. Similarly, a burglar can just walk right in to the house next door which does NOT have a security system, and walk out with whatever they want. I would first say that in that case open carry by the carrier has worked as well as it can in that case; you can't save the world by strapping a gun to your hip, but you can certainly protect yourself, and things and people that matter to you. Second, it's a hard-knock lesson, but a person is smart; when someone sees a home that's been broken into, next to an untouched home with an ADT sign in the flower bed, they cannot help but connect the dots; crime happens, security systems work. You can bet anything that a person whose home has been burglarized will take that lesson to heart and invest in their own system, like a person who has been raped or robbed will hear about this thing called open carry, and concealed carry too, and pursue it conscientiously. So will their friends and neighbors, and their neighbors, and soon, whether it's burglar alarms or Berettas, more people will have them than don't in an area.

When that happens, something happens that makes the analogy break down. Burglars can rob a house in between two others with burglar alarms. If two people out of three in a group are armed, it would be suicide for the criminal to threaten the unarmed person, because the people on either side of him or her can do something about it very quickly. That's the real power of gun carry, open or concealed; not only can you protect yourself, you can protect the person next to you. you don't have to advertise the fact that you are armed, but when you do open carry, and others see unsavory types giving you a wide berth, the wheels in their head start turning and they realize they can carry a gun if they want to. That leads to more widespread use, and you said it yourself; more guns, less crime.

8/18/2008 10:54 PM  

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