Which are better, open carry or concealed carry laws?



Michigan is debating a law which would permit concealed carry in schools, but ban open carry.

Many concealed-carry supporters support the legislation as a compromise that would clarify a conflicting web of laws and court precedents on firearms while ensuring that guns could still be taken into schools.

“This is a very unusual bill in that it’s being attacked by the usual suspects — all the Bloomberg groups — and it’s also being attacked by some of the open-carry groups,” said Steve Dulan, a board member for the Michigan Coalition for Responsible Gun Owners, which supports the bills. “We expect all the folks in the matching T-shirts to be against it. We didn’t necessarily expect some of the guys wearing guns to be against it.”

The Legislature passed a similar bill three years ago, but it was vetoed by Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, who has said individual school districts should have the option of banning guns altogether.

Many other gun owners prefer concealed carry, because it is more subtle and allows law-abiding gun owners to maintain an element of surprise in confronting criminals. Some gun owners are also critical of certain open-carry practices, saying they can be intimidating and disruptive.

I think this is right. Concealed carry is a valuable tool, especially in schools where one lunatic can massacre large numbers of people without worrying about getting shot himself.

Open carry is a little dicier. If you come from a rural culture where many people carry guns, you might not bat an eye if you see someone with a pistol. But in many suburban and urban cultures it is very unusual to see someone with a gun. When I see a person with a gun, I think, "Is this a person who is just exercising his right to protect himself... or is this person carrying around a gun because he is quick to use it?" I think this because I, like millions of others, grew up in a culture where we just didn't see people with guns, seeing someone with a gun raises eyebrows.

Now, if we have open carry, that may deter crazies from committing massacres. But I think concealed carry does it even better. With concealed carry, the crazies have no idea who might be carrying a gun. The risk to themselves is even greater. (And believe me they care about the risk to themselves--they want to carry out their killing spree without interruption.)

That's why I think, unless the culture of the entire country changes radically, I think concealed carry laws are best. And I think they are great for places with large number of unprotected people--movie theaters, malls, places of worship, and yes, even schools. Designating them "gun free zones" only really means they are "target rich zones".

(Abridged version originally published in AT)



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