This story’s gone viral, sparking all sorts of debate about whether open carry is really the way to go when one can in many cases opt to carry concealed.
Local media reports that a Gresham, Oregon, man was openly carrying a handgun this past Saturday when he was robbed at gunpoint by another man.
The victim, identified as 21-year-old William Coleman III, had recently purchased a Walther P22. He had it on his hip in plain sight while he was talking to his cousin on Oct. 4 at 2:00 a.m.
During their conversation, a man walked up to Coleman and asked for a cigarette.
According to Coleman, the individual said, “I like your gun. Give it to me.” The robber then pulled his own pistol from his waistband and pointed it at Coleman.
Coleman turned over the gun and the crook fled on foot.
Authorities said that the suspect is a black male between the ages of 19 and 23, around 6 feet tall with thin, short wavy black hair and a small patch of hair on his chin, local news affiliate KOIN reported. He was wearing sweatpants and a white T-shirt during the robbery.
Many open-carry advocates argue that a gun in plain sight is a deterrent to a criminal. While that may be true in many cases, it’s not true with respect to an armed gun thief, as this story illustrates. One can argue that to the gun thief, Coleman was an easy target.
Now, part of the blame has to be placed on Coleman, right? Why open carry at 2 a.m. on a city street? Why allow a strange person to approach at that hour? Overall, why not be more vigilant and cautious with one’s new pistol?
Open carry is fine, especially when one does it at a place where firearms are common or with a group of people who are also openly carrying. But a critical drawback of open carry is that it really takes away one’s ability to surprise a would-be robber. The armed crook knows the victim has a firearm, which changes the dynamics of the encounter. Instead of approaching one like a hapless, defenseless mark, the crook exercises more caution and may in fact be more prepared to use his weapon on the victim.
At the end of the day some carry is better than no carry, but if you have an option (and I believe Oregonians do), wouldn’t you go with concealed? I think that’s where I come out on this debate.
What are your thoughts on open carry versus concealed carry in this particular context?