SC Police Chief Worried About New Open Carry Law

SC Police Chief Worried About New Open Carry Law
AP Photo/Carlos Osorio

I’m always amazed at the people who freak out over open carry. While I’m not a fan of it for strategic reasons, I’m a supporter of it politically. I recognize that it doesn’t represent a threat to anyone and that the Second Amendment says the right to bear arms shall not be infringed. It says nothing about an except for deciding how people can carry their guns.


In South Carolina, though, open carry wasn’t even an option.

Gun rights advocates wanted permitless open carry, but that didn’t happen. Still, they’re getting open carry, so that’s good.

Unsurprisingly, there are some who aren’t happy about it.

Greenville City Police Chief Howie Thompson has some fear about South Carolina’s open-carry law that was signed into law Monday.

One of Thompson’s fears is for those carrying guns.

“Everyone will see it, and if someone who is committing a criminal act goes in and sees someone carrying a gun, well now the person who is carrying becomes a threat,” he said.

Another concern Thompson has deals with law enforcement officers. Thompson said if someone saw another person who is carrying legally and calls law enforcement to investigate, law enforcement  will not know if  the person has a permit to carry. Thompson thinks service calls for visible guns will increase.

“They’re going to ask for the permit, and maybe the person feels harassed, but in reality the police are just following up on a service call and making sure the person has a permit,” he said.


Now, Thompson’s first concern is something that we talk a lot about in the Second Amendment community. It’s why a lot of us don’t like to open carry.

Of course, there are some who argue openly carrying a firearm may prevent an attack since they can see their potential prey has teeth of their own.

However, that doesn’t seem to be a particularly common occurrence in other places that allow open carry. The only threat most open carriers face is harassment from anti-gun Karens who completely lose their crap at the idea of a private citizen having the means to defend themselves.

Still, it’s not out of the realm of possibility of it happening, so I get the concern.

The other, well, there’s a way to avoid people thinking the officers are harassing them. The trick is in how the officer handles it.

This isn’t the Old West where everyone, good guy and bad guy alike, carry their weapons openly. Criminals don’t openly carry for a variety of reasons, one of which is simply they don’t want to alert their targets that they’re armed.


Open carriers, however, aren’t playing that particular game. If they’re openly carrying, they’re highly unlikely to be a criminal. Approaching them like they’re breaking the law is far more likely to make people feel harassed than if the officer approaches them like he recognizes they’re probably law-abiding citizens but has to check anyway.

Attitude makes a lot of difference.

Chief Thompson would do well to pass that along to his officers.

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