With the recent activities of Open Carry Texas lawfully asserting their rights in an effort to get the Texas legislature to vote for the legalization of openly carried handguns, and counter protests to that—including the poorly attended rallies of the Bloomberg-funded Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America—the open carry of firearms has been in the news quite a bit. Those not paying attention might assume that open carry is something new, something rare, perhaps reckless at best and dangerous at worst, but that is far from the truth.
Open carry has been around since before the birth of this nation. Open carry has been legal in Michigan, my state of residence, ever since it became a state over 175 years ago and as a territory before that. In fact, open carry is currently legal in 44 states, and in 30 states you don’t need a license to openly carry a holstered pistol. Open carry used to be the norm, and one had to be licensed to hide your gun. Over the years various restrictive gun laws have been created state by state, largely in an effort to suppress the ability of minorities and criminals to carry guns. The ability to lawfully carry a hidden gun became a symbol of status and privilege. In some states it still is.
Today people carry their firearms openly for different reasons. Some people open carry as a political statement and to publicly show that “I have a right to keep and bear arms, and I accept that I am solely responsible for the safety of myself and my family.” Some open carry to normalize it among the populace and to show that good people can carry guns. Some just carry openly because it is easier and they think that works best for them.