Concealed Carry vs. Open Carry (Guns)

(I’m not sure if this is the right forum, feel free to move it.)

In the US, or even anywhere else, if you are allowed only one of
A. to carry a concealed gun; or
B. to carry a gun openly

which one is it more likely to be? I would have thought it was B, but from what I can tell from a little searching it seems to be A.
But this can’t be right, can it? I mean I want to know who around me has a gun, so that I can stay away from the gun. How can I protect myself from people with guns if I can’t see who they are?

It varies from state to state. Each has their own laws in regards to these things.

For example, in Minnesota (where I live), no distinction is made between open carry and concealed carry. You can do either with a permit. In some states there is only concealed carry.

Not sure if it’s the right forum either…but I believe among citizens (that is, non LEOs) concealed legal carry is generally more common than open legal carry (and that the people you need to worry about protecting yourself from aren’t likely to be carrying legally in any case).

So are there any places where you can carry your gun openly, but not concealed?


It’s fine in this forum as long as people stick to what is legal, and don’t get into discussing whether concealed or open carry should be legal.

Such a question would be better for IMHO or GD, so let’s not pursue it here.

General Questions Moderator

I believe in New Hampshire, you can carry open without a permit, but need a permit to carry concealed. Beyond that, I don’t care to plow through all 50 state laws to look for one.

As far as numbers, Minnesota (population roughly 5.4 million) has 103,146 permit holders as of June 30th, 2012, or roughly 2% of the total population.

A recent Star Tribune article, in saying as much, had to (reluctantly) admit that permit holders were extremely well behaved and absurdly more law abiding than other citizens (contrary to their alarmist predictions before the law passed). For example, an amazing 1 in 7 adults in Minnesota have some form of DUI on their record, but only 1 in 535 permit holders does.

I live in PA. Technically, you can open carry without a license or permit or anything, but a concealed carry requires a license.

As a practical matter, while open carry is legal, it’s often not tolerated very well and you can expect to be harassed by law enforcement for doing it. On the other hand, we don’t really have a “concealed carry” license. It’s technically a “license to carry firearms” and while you can carry it concealed (and can also carry it loaded inside your car, which you can’t do with the LTCF) you aren’t required to carry it concealed. A lot of folks have the attitude that the LTCF allows you to do pretty much whatever you want to do.

West Virginia allows open carry but requires a permit for concealed carry, but like PA, you can expect to be harassed quite a bit if you open carry.

So while both are permitted from a strictly legal point of view, it is much more practical in PA and WV to carry concealed.

IIRC MD technically allows open and concealed carry with no distinction between the two, but they make it almost impossible to get a permit to do so.

Correct. EXCEPT. The cities of Charleston and Dunbar have grandfathered ordinances (no more cities are allowed to pass gun control laws) that prohibit open carry unless you have a concealed carry permit.

Otherwise, WV law enforcement doesn’t harass people for open carry. It’s completely legal with or without a permit, and in most places you won’t get a strange look. If some misinformed citizen calls about a “person with a gun,” law enforcement are usually knowledgeable on this law.

In PA, open carry without a permit is prohibited in Philly. I’m not sure about LEO attitude, but you are correct that vehicle carry is prohibited without a permit.

I don’t want anyone to know what I’m carrying.
It makes me a target for theft of my gun, it makes me a target if I’m in line at the bank and a robber sees it, it makes me a target for crazy theater shooters and the like.

It scares everyone who doesn’t own/like guns and makes them call the cops.

It makes cops nervous, even though they may be 2A supporters. They’re often obliged to ID open carriers, just as a matter of policy, or they just like to fuck with open carriers.

Either way, the only time I open carry is hiking or fishing. Not for bad guys necessarily, but for quick reaction to a snake or predator.

Open carriers are just needle-dicked trouble makers.
Concealed carriers are Clark Kent. We just do our thing in peace and anonymity until it’s time not to.

There are places in Colorado (mainly local government buildings) where you can’t carry openly but can carry concealed (with permit).

However, in many states, the requirements for carrying concealed are more stringent than for carrying openly. Again, using Colorado as an example–in general, you need to get a permit to carry concealed, but the only thing you need to do in order to carry openly is to own a gun.

Note–I have never been harassed in any way while open carrying, although I did once greatly surprise a family from California, who had no idea that such a thing was possible.

Up until last November Wisconsin only had open carry and no concealed carry except for peace officers. Arizona had it the same way up until they got concealed carry.

I have seen no data whatsoever that this is in any way a significant problem for open carriers.

In Wisconsin open carry has been codified. And if I as a police officer try to ID someone just for open carry with no other reason, they can tell me to pound sand and walk away and there is nothing I can do about it.

The only weird thing about OC in Wisconsin is, you don’t need a permit to do it, UNLESS you’re in a school zone (1000) feet from a school. Then you need a concealed carry license even though you’re not concealing. This is to get around the federal school zone law.

Interestingly, in many jurisdictions the law is mute on the subject of carrying long guns (rifles/shotguns).

They do in the northern panhandle. I’m from that area originally and still have friends there. One of them likes to open carry and gets harassed fairly often.

Can’t speak for the rest of the state, though.

Here is a site dedicated to open carry. Go on the forums page and you can read experiences from each individual state.
The map section needs to be updated. It is now legal to openly carry a handgun in a vehicle in Wisconsin.

I’ve been able to conceal since 1982, but I always open carry when I walk my dog (Milwaukee/West Allis area). I’ve never had a problem with it. I usually don’t open carry into businesses. Though I have, I usually don’t.
I’ve opened carried in populated areas of Arizona, Alaska, South Dakota, Kentucky, and Virginia with no problems. The key is, law enforcement in those areas are well educated to it’s legality.

Just 2 weeks ago I took a 4 hour in-service training that was entirely on open carry in Wisconsin. Unfortunately quite a few other cops there were completely in the dark as to it’s legality.

Amusingly, in NJ there is a licensing requirement for buying a firearm (any type). But there’s no provision for owning a handgun. Yet another reason that NJ sucks (with apologies to both of the people out there who like the Garden of Evil State). :slight_smile:

Apparently Maryland may allow citizens to obtain concealed carry permits (court ruling).

Ohio is also an open carry state. Based on accounts I have read on various forums, it would appear most LEOs in Ohio know open carry is legal. That’s the good news. The bad news is that some of these LEOs will detain a person who is open carrying simply because they are open carrying. In other words, some LEOs are detaining citizens who open carry without reasonable articulable suspicion that they have committed a crime, which is illegal to do.

Although the above poster didn’t experience it, there was a fair amount of harassment in Wisconsin. People were being charged with disorderly conduct for the mere act of carrying a firearm. The attourny general tol authorities to knock it off but that didn’t stop the practice, there was an incident in Madison after the order came out.

Most LEOs know they can’t detain someone unless they have RAS that they committed a crime. But there are always a few who have no qualms about doing it, unfortunately.

I’ve been open carrying for years, and have never been hassled by anyone. But in case I am ever hassled, I always carry a digital audio recorder on me.