Open vs. Concealed, Right vs. Privilege

I have a video collection of presentations that were given as the 2006 (or possibly 2005) Firearms Law and 2nd Amendment Symposium that I grabbed from the NRA ILA web site. In there, Brian Patrick of the University of Toledo makes an allusion to a tidbit of information I hadn’t heard elsewhere (and haven’t heard since). And that is that even before this country reached the sorry state that it is in where so many people get their undies in a bunch at the mere sight of a firearm, that among those that carried guns, concealling a weapon was considered unmanly and it was actually this old gun culture that contributed to legislation prohibiting conceal carry.

Though I haven’t been able to corroborate this claim, I bring that up because I see something coming from the open carry activist as well as something else from the conceal carry activists that both bother me. Not that we can be divided into those neatly segmented groups. Sure, there’s some overlap. But I have heard on more than one occasion, someone from make the assertion that “open carry is the right, conceal carry is the privilege”. I would like to know by what authority can someone make the claim that carrying a concealed weapon is not a right. All one has to do is witness this dash cam video of Danladi Moore being harassed by Norfolk Police and listen carefully to what they say to him regarding how harassing they are going to be if even lets the gun get ever-so-slightly covered:

at gunpoint in downtown Norfolk

Of course, the officer ignores the fact that Dan has a conceal carry permit. (Though, to be fair, I couldn’t hear if Dan actually informed the officers of that fact.) That, of course, is the point: without the conceal carry permit, he can’t comfortably risk carrying even openly in the face of this abusive, tyrannical police department.

And then there’s the conceal carry crowd. A certain three letter gun rights group frequently sends out surveys to its members asking their views on some gun related issues. One of those questions has got to be one of the most awkward contortions of the English language I’ve seen. It asks if members support “Right to Carry Permits”. Huh? You don’t need a permit to excercise a right. If you are going to advocate for permits, then at least admit that you aren’t acknowledging it as a right. “Conceal Carry Permit” would be more appropriate for what you’re advocating, I believe.

Of all the fighting that this group does for conceal carry, which it is effectively conceding as a privilege, I don’t think I’ve seen any advocating for what has been fighting for. Yes, there are only six states that outright prohibit it, but what about fighting for it in those six as well as working to eliminate the ‘anamolous’ states where it’s not prohibited outright, but because of a lack of pre-emption, it’s essentially prohibited. At least is honest about their position, erroneous as I believe it is, that they believe open carrying is the right, but concealing is the privilege.

The problem here is that whether you take the position or the NRA position, it forces you, if you are honest, to acknowledge that you are conceding that carrying a weapon, concealed or not, is a privilege. The problem lays in the fact that one official’s open carry is another official’s conceal carry. Just look at the despicable position of the current governer of Arizona.

She’s not willing to admit that it is a problem when someone gets arrested for illegally concealing a weapon simply because an officer approaches him from the non-gun side and can’t see the gun on the guy’s other hip. Her response on several occasions has essentially been “get a permit”. In other words in order to excercise the right to carry a firearm openly, which Arizona doesn’t unconstitutionally prohibit (except possibly by prohibiting in certain ‘sensitive’ areas, I don’t know), you need to get a permit to carry concealed or risk an obnoxious LEO hauling you downtown with a pair of nickel braclets.

Arizona is a year round warm climate, but what about seasonal places like the New England states. Ever try carrying openly on the *outside* of a heavy down winter coat? You effectively loose your ability to exercise your right to carry in New Hampshire (i.e.: without a permit) in the winter. Brilliant.

And as far as the NRA’s advocacy for conceal carry, how about at least attempting to push for Vermont style laws (or lack thereof). I haven’t heard a peep from the NRA about possibly pursuing that. Indiana now has lifetime conceal carry permits. Perfect opportunity for the first target area. Note that here I am acknowledging that the grass roots is where it has to start, but it would help to hear something from the leadership of our “leading” gun rights groups.

Let people who feel confident about their holsters, their retention skills, and their tactical awareness carry openly. And for those who would rather not give away an advantage, and can effectively conceal, let them carry concealed. Keep the criminals guessing. So the police are kept guessing, too. Isn’t that already the case? Criminals will conceal and not inform the police that they are concealing. How is forcing someone who has no ill intent to reveal to an officer — under penalty of law — that he is armed going to help him identify those with ill intent and will never reveal to the officer that he is armed (until he engages in his criminal activity and is, hopefully caught, stopped, and, if necessary, put down by either the cop, or an armed citizen)? Same goes for forcing him to get a ‘permit’ to conceal a weapon. The mere presence of a firearm does not put a police officer in danger. If it does, then why does he carry one? The presence of a criminal, on the other hand, who is likely to ignore all laws requiring him to reveal he is criminal (notwithstanding possible 5A infringements), does endanger an officer (not to mention, everyone else).

I’m not naive, by the way, about the current political situation. But remember what people were telling Marion Hammer in Florida when she was lobbying for shall-issue CCW permits in there. They told her it would never happen. And after it passed against all odds, it spread across the country to ~40 states like a brushfire. We’ve got Vermont and Alaska (sort of). Let’s get to work in IN and cause another brushfire.

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