by Steve Davis, Esq.
Guns Save Life Immediate Past President

Greg Ellifritz always delivers some of the best presentations among the distinguished cadre at the Rangemaster Tactical Conference.  Based in Ohio, he works as a cop during the day and does top tier training on the side as the principal of Active Response Training (activeresponsetraining.net). Greg presents his lesssons with a penetrating logic and analysis.

Ellifritz travels too, and recently lectured with the Liberty Defense Company in Peoria.

Recently he wrote about the topic of open carry.  The title of his piece sums it up nicely: “Friends Don’t Let Friends Open Carry.”  

Yes, Illinois has no provision for open carry, but every state surrounding Illinois does – even without any permit or license in the case of Kentucky.  Some of our Illinois folks might be tempted to exercise what they see as their right to open carry in those states.

Ellifritz gives a piercing analysis as to why he discourages open carry.  

Of course, I suggest to all readers that they access the article and read it.  At the same time I know most will not.  With that in mind, I will relate the high points for our Guns Save Life family and friends.

I concur with Ellifritz’s advice on open carry.  Once again, even though Illinois is not an “Open Carry” state, the logic and recommendations of Ellifritz’s article have applicability to open carry on your property and to concealed carriers who sloppily conceal.  
OC practitioners frequently cite two reasons for open carry. The first is to educate the public that carrying a firearm is not an abhorrent, unsafe behavior and to cultivate its acceptance.

In response, Ellifritz recognizes the reality that many, many people are scared of firearms to their core.  Many of these folks fear the sight of a gun in public, especially by someone not in uniform.  Heck, we’ve all read news articles about people afraid of the sight of a uniformed police officer’s gun.  Exposing them to the sight of a gun will likely only deepen their irrational fears of guns.  


Even those who tolerate concealed carry often feel uncomfortable with someone in the Starbucks or grocery store with an AK-47 slung  over their shoulder. This is not the road to winning hearts and minds politically.


The second argument frequently cited involves crime deterrence.  Yes, Ellifritz acknowledges that on some occasions an open carried gun may contribute to an inhibitory influence to criminal misbehavior.  

Balanced against this, Ellifritz notes two very specific and well documented tactical problems which target the open carrier. Both tactical problems stem from the simple reality that a significant and sizable percentage of criminals are simply not scared or intimidated by someone carrying a firearm.

With a serious criminal history comes the likelihood that the bad guy has had a gun pointed at him before, or maybe even have survived a gunshot wound. This is not their first rodeo and they may specifically target the open carrier to take home a nice gun.
Indeed, criminals do take/steal guns from open carry practitioners.  Ellifritz believes there is much more of this occurring than is generally known.  Every year, even trained police officers have their handguns taken from them.  Ellifritz reminds us that police officers have likely had extensive retention training and are utilizing good retention holsters.


Whether it is ordinary theft or the special challenge of ripping off an open carrier, Ellifritz gives the web address for over a dozen of such cases.

Ellifritz also has the web address for a number of instances illustrating the second tactical problem: criminals specifically targeting open carriers to initiate a criminal attack to prevent  resistance. Often the open carrier is shot before they can respond or even before they become aware of anything amiss. Many times an open carrier being at the wrong place at the wrong time makes them a certain target.  Don’t believe it?  Just look to stories of police officer ambushes.

All of the above leads to a simple mantra to live by:  concealed means concealed.   Remember, letting your concealed carry handgun become apparent or observable puts you into the same tactical perils noted for open carriers.

In all respects keep it to yourself. Concealed means concealed.


7 thoughts on “OPEN CARRY: In a word, don’t.”
  1. Being a resident of Kansas, we are free to open carry or conceal carry. However, for the several years that I've carried a pistol, I have ALWAYS carried concealed, for the reasons above.

    Great article…nailed it!

  2. Ridiculous article. I open carry all the time virtually no body notices, get many positive comments when they do. Sorry, bad guys don't lime armed resistance and move on to gun free zones. 

    1. Open carry a handgun while discretely dressed?  Perhaps so.  But you still have to be very situationally aware at all times.

      OC a rifle or while dressed like a slob?  You're doing us no favors, sir.  You're scaring the sheep.


  3. Very good article. Those who carry concealed are sheepdogs in sheep disguise so the wolves have no idea who is armed and prepared for defense or trouble. Open carry might disuade some thugs from carrying out mischief, but on the other hand thugs might try to disarm the open carrier to obtain another firearm he doesn't have to steal elsewhere.

  4. During the Ferguson Missouri riots a few years back there were several photos and videos of homeowners and business owners gathered together at times openly carrying America's favorite rifle slung over their shoulders while keeping watch over their neighborhoods……during times of civil disobedience, insurrection  and ongoing riots I see no problem with like minded folks open carrying knowing there are many in your vicinity who have your back….other than that I would never want to give up my tactical advantage and I always conceal….always…..stay safe out there.

  5. Excellent article Mr. Davis and thank you for having been a great president! I agree with you 100% and any doink that thinks OC is a good idea is definitely not doing the rest of us any favors and probably suffers from SPS as well. 

  6. Yep…a good article. I've come across these points before and couldn't agree more with them. Proponents of OC I know are amazed when I bring up the scenario "What if you're in line at 7eleven with your XDS on your hip and a thug behind you with a stolen Glock tucked in this belt just takes you out, robs the store and steals your XDS to boot?" What's your wife and kids going to think about your open carry then? Covert is the best way to carry unless you're on your ranch.

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