Open Carry at the NRA Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, 2023

Image Courtesy Dean Weingarten

On Friday, April 14, at the first day of the NRA Annual Meeting in Indianapolis in 2023, this correspondent rode the shuttle from the Gate Ten parking lot to the Indiana Convention Center.  A passenger was openly carrying what appears to be one of the Springfield XD series of pistols in a thumb-break outside the waistband holster. Notice the clip on the right front pants pocket. It is almost certainly attached to the ubiquitous folding pocket knife. The gentleman was perfectly willing to have this picture taken of him openly carrying. His comment was to the effect: Never leave home without it.

The next morning, on Saturday, this correspondent had only been off of the shuttle for a few minutes when another gentleman was seen openly carrying a 1911 clone of some manufacturer, of which there are many. The open carrier informed this correspondent the pistol was loaded with Hornaday Critical Defense loads in .45 ACP. In this case, the pocket knife is a simple folding box-cutter knife.

Image Courtesy Dean Weingarten

One of the reasons open carriers were more difficult to spot at this meeting is the ubiquitous carry of cell phones. With so many people carrying cell phones, it is much more difficult to “make” an open carrier or a concealed carrier. With so many people carrying bulges on their belts or in their pockets, it is very difficult to know who is armed and who is not.

Image Courtesy Dean Weingarten

On Sunday morning, this open carrier was spotted waiting for entry to the exhibition halls. Steve is carrying an IWI Masada in 9mm. The holster appears to be a simple trigger guard/friction retention type. It is actually a class II retention holster with the release hidden behind the pistol. The design makes the pistol very “snatch” resistant. The folding knife is an inexpensive Carambit knock-off. Steve also carries a tourniquet and other medical supplies. Steve’s attitude on open carry changed after the Greenwood Park Mall mass murder in 2022. He decided tactical deterrence was an important component of defense of self and others.

Image Courtesy Dean Weingarten
Image Courtesy Dean Weingarten

There were no restrictions on open or concealed carry in the exhibition halls. Indiana is now a Constitutional Carry state. No signs were posted; security monitoring the entrances told this correspondent there was no prohibition on carrying of handguns, openly or concealed.

Open carry is a political statement and active defense of rights protected by the Second Amendment. It promotes tactical deterrence. Some perceive concealed carry as more conducive to tactical surprise.

Talking to a couple of security people, the thought was, as Indiana is now a Constitutional Carry state, there is less of an incentive to make a political statement with open carry.

Both methods of carry have their advantages and disadvantages. In a Constitutional Carry state, one or the other, or both, may be employed as the situation warrants.

Open carry has the advantage of tactical deterrence. Ordinary criminals do not wish a gunfight. Mass murderers, such as the one attempted a few miles away in 2022 at the Greenwood Park Mall in Indianapolis, may wish to kill armed defenders first. However, in the Greenwood Park Mall, it did not make a difference. The first person shot and killed, Victor Gomez, was carrying concealed.

Another armed Samaritan, Elisjha Dicken, used the time gained by Victor Gomez’s sacrifice to engage and stop the murderer from a distance of 40 yards.

Twenty-five states now have Constitutional Carry. Florida has permitless concealed carry, so there are 26 permitless carry states. Both North and South Carolina appear to be seriously considering Constitutional Carry Bills. Nebraska has one more closure vote (requiring 33 senators in their unicameral legislature) to achieve Constitutional Carry. The chances of another addition to the Constitutional Carry club in 2023 are good. North Carolina, South Carolina, and Nebraska already have open carry in their states.

About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

Dean Weingarten