Which are better: open carry or concealed carry laws?

Michigan is debating a law that would permit concealed carry in schools but ban open carry.

Many concealed-carry supporters support the legislation as a compromise that would clarify a conflicting web of laws and court precedents on firearms while ensuring that guns could still be taken into schools.

"This is a very unusual bill in that it's being attacked by the usual suspects — all the Bloomberg groups — and it's also being attacked by some of the open-carry groups," said Steve Dulan, a board member for the Michigan Coalition for Responsible Gun Owners, which supports the bills. "We expect all the folks in the matching T-shirts to be against it. We didn't necessarily expect some of the guys wearing guns to be against it."

The Legislature passed a similar bill three years ago, but it was vetoed by Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, who has said individual school districts should have the option of banning guns altogether. 

Many other gun owners prefer concealed carry, because it is more subtle and allows law-abiding gun owners to maintain an element of surprise in confronting criminals. Some gun owners are also critical of certain open-carry practices, saying they can be intimidating and disruptive.

I think this is right.  Concealed carry is a valuable tool, especially in schools, where one lunatic can massacre large numbers of people without worrying about getting shot himself.

Open carry is a little dicier.  If you come from a rural culture where many people carry guns, you might not bat an eye if you see someone with a pistol.  But in many suburban and urban cultures, it is very unusual to see someone with a gun.  When I see a person with a gun, I think, "Is this a person who is just exercising his right to protect himself...or is this person carrying around a gun because he is quick to use it?"  I think this because I, like millions of others, grew up in a culture where we just didn't see people with guns.

Now, if we have open carry, that may deter crazies from committing massacres.  But I think concealed carry does it even better.  With concealed carry, the crazies have no idea who might be carrying a gun.  The risk to themselves is even greater.  (And believe me: they care about the risk to themselves – they want to carry out their killing spree without interruption.)

That's why, unless the culture of the entire country changes radically, concealed carry laws are best.  They are great for places with large number of unprotected people – movie theaters, malls, places of worship, and yes, even schools.  Designating them "gun-free zones" only really means they are "target-rich zones."

Exit question: Which do you like better, concealed or open carry, and why?

This article was written by Ed Straker, senior writer of NewsMachete.com, the conservative news site.

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