The “Do’s” and “Don’ts” of Open Carry Part VI

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

“A serious look at making the open carry operator as squared away as they can possible be”
I want to reiterate this as the point of these series of articles.

They are not designed to say that open carry is a bad decision or that concealed carry is the only way to go. They were designed to move the open carry debate past being run and dominated by political activists that admittedly knew nothing about self-defense and had no training in what they were screaming from the roof tops. As a self-defense Instructor that was serious about my trade and craft, the perpetuation of this dangerous ignorance left me utterly disgusted by those that did not care enough about their followers to even do the smallest amount of study into the art of self-defense with a firearm. It took years to get the political activist to stop screaming from the roof tops with the perpetuation of their undeniable and dangerous ignorance.

On the same token these articles were not designed to entice the closed mind “always conceal” people to jump in and demonstrate their ignorance on the reality of open carry in this country. There are many places around this country where open carry has been absolute acceptable for a very long time. There are also many places where open carry is the only option to legally carry a gun. There are also places where open carry simply makes good sense, even if it is not all that common.

The point of the articles is to point out that fact that if you carry a gun (open or concealed) you should know exactly what you are getting yourself into and what your responsibilities should be as an armed civilian. A few years back it was very common to see open carry people stating that they did not need any training, that retention was never going to be an issue, that there was no need to learn anything from Self Defense Instructors or from those that had a high level of training, knowledge, or experience because they were anti-American, anti-freedom, anti-Constitution, anti-rights, and anti-open carry. There was an amazing amount of disrespect given to those that only wanted to help out a brand new group of shooters and point out that they were making “life or death” decisions from a very low knowledge base……….the low knowledge base of the “political activist only” that could not or would not post their resume or qualification to teach people about self-defense.

I have had many of my fellow Self Defense Instructors ask me why I waste my time trying to help those that have been so disrespectful and caustic. The answer to that is because a bunch of these guys were my friends and students. Just because a friend or student “does not know what he does not know” does not mean that they can not learn what they did not know. They say that common sense is not common. I disagree! I have found that when common sense is presented, it is very easy to recognize. So this debate is no different from a number of controversial debates that I have taken on in my career. If you can apply common sense to a controversial subjects, the world will change, just like it did with point shooting, dynamic movement, getting off of the X, low light gun fighting without flashlights, etc, etc.

“You do not know what you do not know” is not an insult! It is a reality for all of us. So when a person with a ton more knowledge, training, and experience takes the time to teach you about something that you do not know, take what is being given to you………that is what I did and now I am one of the top Instructors in one of the top training organizations in the world.

I open carry!

I do it from a position of knowledge, skill, and experience. I know exactly what I am getting into and exactly what my responsibilities are.

If people are wondering where this series of articles originated, it originated at my local forum. Back when I started writing these articles the forum was only about three years old and really is in its infancy. There was a time when I thought that the people at this forum would never progress past their opencarrydotorg roots. There was a time where ignorance ran that place with an iron fist. But that was then and this is now. I am very happy that I took the time to give these new guys a chance to learn some things that they simply did not know. Now it is a very decent forum with a really good group of people and students. The more they got to know me, the more they trusted me to give them good information and teach them good material.

It did not take too long to get the people to see the political activists for what they really were and to end their domination over the forum. It took some work………but now that I know these guys…….it was well worth the time and the effort.

Every once in a while we get some fresh blood that has been guzzling the Kool-aid. The regulars on the forum usually contact me in order to bring the youngsters around.

Here is a real life open carry encounter on Freemont Street, in Las Vegas and the genesis of my “Do’s and Don’ts” series of articles. The story will be told in bold and my comments at the end will remain standard. I am going to keep the post as close as possible to the exact way it was posted.

Freemont Street OC encounter (Las Vegas)

So I met up with Tr**d, Sa****ge, and D*C, we had a good time, roamed the strip, saw some cool entertainment, all around good night. A couple wandering eyes as usual, not out of the ordinary for us.

So here is where it gets interesting. I break with the guys, say goodbye, and make my way back to the Four Queens where my car is parked. I get to the big intersection at Freemont where everyone waits to walk, it has just turned orange when I arrived. So I’m standing there with about a million other people, when some chewing tobacco comes spitting over my shoulder into the street. I’m like “***?” in my head and I look back. It’s some dude, probably about 200 pounds, 6 foot, tattoos, gauged ears. He looks at me and is all, “Sorry about that man.” I’m a pretty chill dude, so I’m like “No worries, it’s cool”. So about two moments or so later I hear, “Oh man, I’m REALLY sorry!” and I didn’t need to look back to know what he was talking about.

The guy drapes his left arm over my shoulders almost, like… hugging me like a buddy or something. I say, “Haha, yeah.” (Not really sure what to say feeling kind of awkward.) “So What is it?” he asks. “Is it one of those FN’s?” I look down at my XD(m) and say, “nah, it’s a XD… 9millimeter” at this point I notices a 5 foot something girl to his right…


Straight up mesmerized. She was wearing a DCU blouse with US ARMY patches on it, kind of casual. She speaks out, “Do you know this man?? What the hell?”

The tall fellow responds, “Nah just met him. Don’t mind her, this is my daughter.” at this point nothing has changed, I swear to god this girl is tripping. “Oh my god, what are you doing? seriously?” Can’t remember her words exactly, but I can imagine what she was thinking, “Is there some dude walking around Las Vegas with an OPEN GUN on his hip? Just like that?”

So around this time the light turns white, and we step out into the street, the dude tells me his name, and reaches for a shake, I look over, and shake his hand. He makes some remark, I can’t quite remember, but it was to the general premise of “Glad we have the freedom to carry” kind of remark.

I did find it a bit strange that a chick with a frickin DCU jacket that said Army on it would be a little more keen on guns, but maybe it wasn’t hers, and either way she might have had a mindset that couldn’t fathom the idea that a mere civilian could carry a gun out in the open like that.

As I split right the girl is still shocked, and as I separate I can hear her giving him an earful. Overall I would say it was a positive experience.

Looking back on it a bit from a “tactical” perspective, I thought about a couple of things. Firstly, when I stand I usually tuck my thumb into my front pocket, with my elbow draped back, with my forearm contacting the holster slightly while the upper end my arm touches the grip. This way any movement to my weapon will be immediately noticed. I’m glad I do this, because in these close quarter situations its near impossible to have eyes-on all the people in your surrounding area. Situational awareness can only take you so far.

Now the part that got my heart beating a bit was when I went to shake his hand. The moment I did I realized one crucial thing. This man has the thing that brings everything together, my right hand. Without that hand, I don’t have ****, and my little bit of inertia doesn’t mean jack crap if at that point he wanted to pull me around. This was a non-issue, and he is like 99.9% of people and just wanted to give me a friendly gesture, but it became troubling at that time.

I do have a remedy for this, as when I OC I always carry my BUG (Back Up Gun) in my left pocket, so that were I to lose control of my right hand, the left was all ready to fire in the second it would take me to draw. This is pretty fool-proof IMHO, except… for the first time ever…. I forgot my BUG. So while it was all fine and dandy, it taught a lesson that I should always carry a BUG when OC, were I come into a vulnerable position like that again. As a great man once said,

“Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet. “

After the typical “defend the Superior American” remarks to this very poor response to being molested in public while carrying a gun, I wrote out my take on the encounter. If you are “street” you will know what I mean……if you are not, your will think that I am being a jerk. It all comes down to context.

Here is how I responded.

I’ve been keeping this to myself for a while, but here is my take on the OP confrontation.

A street smart guy saw the open carry gun and noticed how poor the awareness and the street smarts were by the man carrying the gun. He decided to have a little fun and to teach the open carry man a very valuable lesson.

To start off the lesson he showed utter disrespect by spitting tobacco right over the mans shoulder. This was a “who do you think you are……you ain’t squat” opening to the confrontation…….and yes is was a confrontation to educate the reality of the street and the utter disdain it has for people who have no street smarts. The street knows the danger of the street and has zero respect for those that do not know the streets.

The lack of a quality reaction to this “interview” led to the next lesson. This lesson was all about invading the open carry guys personal space. Basically it was a lesson stating “If I wanted your gun, I could take it.” “I am in your space/face and I have access to your gun and you do not even know how to act.”

IMHO this lesson was designed to solidify the point “If you do not know the streets…….the streets could eat you alive if you do not have the education, preparation, or mindset.”

In other words “YOU AIN’T NOTHING!”

There are two very good things that came out of this…….the street smart guy was not a serious bad guy and the lesson did not cost the OP guy his life. The lesson of lack of mental preparedness seems to have had a very profound effect on the OP’s mindset and what he could do better next time the street decides to have a little fun.

BTW, the streets idea of fun can be brutally lethal.

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