Please explain the US open vs concealed carry laws.

As far as I understand, there are states that allow open carry of firearms. There are states that allow concealed carry, and then there are states that allow both.

I can understand laws allowing firearms, and I can understand allowing open carry - though I’m not really convinced it’s a good idea. I’m not so sure about allowing concealed, but I can maybe go along with it. But IFAIK there are states that don’t allow open carry yet still allow concealed. What’s the reasoning behind that? Why is carrying a gun acceptable when nobody knows you’re doing it but not otherwise?

I’m asking this in GQ, because I’m not interested in a debate about gun restrictions in general. Also: I’m Dutch, and not particularly informed about US gun laws, so clarifications/corrections are very welcome.

Oh, and if the moderators would please correct the spelling of “concealed” in the title, I’d be grateful.

Since laws vary, I don’t know that there is one answer. One possibility is that open-carry might be considered provocative. It also makes some people nervous, as many are not familiar with firearms. Concealed-carry allows a person to be armed without causing a scene.

The first thing that comes into mind is a bond enforcement agent. There’s no reason for them to carry a gun except to and from going to get a person who has failed to appear for court date.

If you walk around on a subway with a gun, that’s gonna make a lot of people nervous. It could panic a drug dealer into doing something he normally wouldn’t do, thinking the guy carrying a gun is a cop, when he’s simply a bond enforcement agent.

Bond Enforcement Agents (bounty hunters) have no power to arrest anyone other than the person who has been named as failed to appear.

Conversely if a bond enforcement agent sees a hold up, he doesn’t have to act on it. He can walk away. If someone saw a hold up and saw a bond enforcement agent with a gun, he may scream, “Use your gun do something.”

In most cases it’s better to let the armed robber have his money and leave, rather than try to detain him.

So that is one example, I’m sure there are others.

As you wish, I’ll try not to start a debate, but I will give you a few facts. Since 1986 the total number of states that have implemented what is known as a “shall issue” system for concealed carry permits has risen from 8 to 38. “Shall issue” means that if the state cannot show cause for rejection of an application the issuing authority is obligated by law to issue you a concealed carry permit. In that time there has been a huge drop in violent crimes. I am not correlating the two by asserting that the increase in concealed carry has reduced violent crime, because that is absolutely debatable. My intention is to show that the increase in people carrying concealed weapons has not caused an increase in violent crime. You may determine for yourself by that whether or not it is a good idea.

So, why is open carry allowed in places where concealed carry is not? 43 states have a provision within their constitutions for the right to keep and bear arms, but not all of them provide for carrying a concealed weapon. Therefore open carry is the only option. On the other hand, in some places where concealed carry is permitted open carry is not, typically on the basis that the public will find it alarming. And to an extent they have a point, it is fairly unusual to see someone carrying a weapon openly. But in states where open carry is permitted but concealed carry is not it is the only means for people to exercise their rights.

In yet other states, both types of carry are legal, and in those states open carry is typically done for political motives as it is easy enough to get a concealed carry permit.

I’m not really on board so much with open carry as a political movement. It depends too much on the judgment of other people. As an example, it is not unusual for the police to get a “man with a gun” call from a panicked citizen. When they get to the scene they have to use their judgment. And in some cases, they do not know that open carry is legal, which leads to all kinds of tension and disruption for everybody involved. It’s simply not worth it unless you have no other choice.

Anyway, the reason why you’re seeing open carry so much of late is that it’s a political movement. It used to be virtually nonexistent in most places and is still very rare, but highly visible, and Brady Campaign and the news media have risen to the bait.

I hope that somewhere in that rambling you find at least an idea of the answer you were looking for. I get a bit long-winded sometimes about the subject.

you can’t demonstrate this cause and effect, either. for all you know concealed carry has retarded the decrease in violent crime such that, in the absence of Factor X which caused violent crime to decrease, there would have been an increase in violent crime.

not saying that’s true, but the causation you’re (rightfully) spurning above is the same type of causation that you’re claiming now.

I highly doubt this.

Like all State laws unless there is pressure from the outside to streamline them they all have individual twists.
I am referring to traffic laws as those being streamlined by the US-DOT.
There is some progress in changing some carry laws. Texas is always thought to be a gun friendly state, but someone with a concealed carry permit has to have that gun so well concealed that if it “Prints” (outline seen of it under a garment) the permit holder can have his permit revoked.
We have open or concealed with permit here in Minnesota but it is better to have it concealed for many reasons.
One would be, if someone were to commit a crime in public and noticed an openly carried gun, well that would be a necessary 1st target, however the not knowing who is carrying with concealed is better for everyone that could be a victim, the unknown is an advantage.
If you think the open vs concealed carry is messed up, try and understand all the variations in state to state laws regarding carry in a motor vehicle:dubious:

In Vermont we have no restrictions of any kind on carrying firearms - open or concealed. Outside of hunting season, it is rare to see someone openly carrying. However, a lot of folks carry concealed at least part of the time.

I made no claim of causation. I made a statement of fact. Concealed carry is up, violent crime is down. Concealed carry has not contributed to an increase in violent crime because there has not been an increase in violent crime.

No, it does happen. Cite



As an example, it is not unusual for the police to get a “man with a gun” call from a panicked citizen. When they get to the scene they have to use their judgment. And in some cases, they do not know that open carry is legal, which leads to all kinds of tension and disruption for everybody involved.


Do not doubt a fact. We have had concealed carry for many years and I have asked policemen this very question and have found that some would arrest and confiscate a gun and let the DA deal with it. I have told this one in-particular that if he were to do that with me I would sue for false arrest.
Additional there are many constables and part time LEO’s that would be better stocking shelves at Wally World.
Our County Sheriff doesn’t know that a handgun is not required to be registered, as in No registration in Minnesota!
And there is no reason to be excited about him announcing his retirement come December because who knows what we will get next election:smack:

and, again, that’s a fallacious conclusion. it’s just plain unsuported by the data.

can you not think of any data set where one factor contributed positively to something, but the entire trend was negative?

apparently from gleaning over the comments of your cite

a) Omaha requires a permit to open carry
b) the man let his open carry permit expire as an act of political defiance

so, no, they weren’t wrong. (assuming that’s true) (also, I’m not debating the “wrongness” of their acts from a judicial/constitutional standpoint, rather it’s my position that they new what the law ostensibly was and enforced it)

it just makes absolutely no sense that larger police forces that are professional would not elucidate the state’s relevant gun laws to their policemen - sure, it probably happens in smaller towns, and certain citizens may get caught in the nexus between a legislative or judicial change to the rules and the delay in percolating that down to the coppers, but again, their job is primarily knowing the laws of the land and enforcing them.

First Google result for “ohio gun open carry” -

cstamets, was that the post you meant to reply to? That link is certainly a cite for police sometimes being ignorant of the gun laws, but it doesn’t really offer any evidence concerning the effect of guns on safety.

Nope… totally not the post I meant to quote. Sorry about that. Was replying to this, from Rumor Watkins: