When it comes to open carry there seems to be two definite groups in the firearm community.
Group A – Open carry unnecessarily draws attention. You should conceal carry instead if you can.
Group B – If the law says I can open carry, I’m going to do it if I feel like it.
I fall into Group B.
If you are an adult that is afraid of guns, I can’t help you. You are going to have to figure out on your own that the simple presence of a gun does not mean people are going to die. The more people that open carry the more obvious this will become.
Gun owners that decide to exercise their rights should not be treated like criminals.
A perfect example is the latest open carry incident in Tennessee:
What an absolute disaster of speculation and misinformation.
This is a picture of the actual gun (note the orange airsoft-like tip):
The story according to the Tennessee man involved:
I went to the Tennessee State Radnor Lake State Park this afternoon to take in some nature and get some exercise. I dressed in boots, blue jeans, t-shirt, vest, and an old military issue gore-tex woodland camo jacket. I carried my new Romanian Draco AK pistol loaded with 31 123 grain FMJ ammunition from Walmart. I arrived at approximately 3:30 pm and with the pistol slung on my back I started my walk. It was mostly uneventful. I saw no deer and passed maybe 30 hikers. As I reached the end of the trail I made sure no one was close by and shifted the ak-47 pistol to the front of my body. I reached the end of the trail and turned onto the roadway where I saw the first ranger of the day. He asked me if it was an airsoft and I said no it was an AK-47 type pistol. He looked at me strangely and asked to see my permit. I showed my Tennessee handgun carry permit. He asked where I parked and I told him. He said I could keep walking I kept walking as he called someone. By the time I reached my car the ranger was no where in sight as I walk quickly. However, another ranger vehicle pulled in the parking lot and a ranger jumped out with a shotgun pointed at me and yelled at me to stay still and put the weapon on the ground. After I put the weapon down he told me to move away which I did. He then told me to put my face on the ground and my arms on my head. I complied. I think he had a gun trained on me the whole time, but I couldn’t see. He searched me quickly and put my AK into the truck. This particular ranger has seen me before and has asked to see my TN handgun carry permit. He asked to see the permit again and asked for my driver license. I told him I would not give him my license, but he could see the permit.
Three Nashville metro cop cars showed up pretty quickly. They talked among themselves for about an hour and then a cop pulled out a citation for arrest. It said I was being arrested for 39-17-1311 unlawful possession of a weapon. He asked me to sign and I told him I wanted to speak with his supervisor. He said okay, but that it would take a long time and he just wanted to cite and release me for my convenience (yeah right). I asked what part of 39-17-1311 I violated he said I couldn’t carry a rifle. I told him my firearm was classified as a pistol. It has no stock and never had a stock. I also pointed out that it has an 11.5” barrel with complies with the length of a handgun definition in Tennessee. He said it looks like I had cut the stock off and another said they had never heard of a 7.62×39 handgun. It took about another ½ hour for the sergeant to show up. In the meantime one of the original cops left, another park ranger came and left and two more cops showed up. The sergeant showed and I tried to explain that the firearm was a handgun. I also told him if they were going to arrest me to just take me in front of the magistrate right away. They spent another ½ hour asking me if I had a form 1, that the ATF classifies my pistol as a rifle, and they had never seen an AK pistol before. Finally they told me they had gotten in touch with the manufacturer and the manufacturer said it indeed was a pistol. I highly doubt that, but that is what they told me. They released the handcuffs, and gave me back my magazine, ammo, and pistol. (Source – AR15.com)
This is how I propose situation should have been handled:
- Police get a frantic call that there is a man with a gun in the park
- The police operator asks for a few details.. what is he doing, what is he wearing etc.. and it comes out that he is simply walking on the trail and he happens to have on a camouflage jacket
- Officers are sent to the scene to investigate
- They show up and see the man with gun. He is not doing anything threatening, so they just ask to see his carry permit.
- Officers then ask the man a couple of questions about what he was doing, paying close attention to his demeanor and attitude
- The man is presumably quite calm and collected, and the officers find out he was simply going for a walk just minding his own business
- Officers initially are dubious that the AK-47 is an actual legal pistol, so they ask the man about it
- The man explains that it is a legally manufactured Draco AK-47 pistol with absolutely no modifications to it
- The officers Google “Draco AK-47 pistol” and verify what the man told them
- Officers apologize to the man for the inconvenience, and send him on his way
- A note is made in the police computer, that there is indeed such thing as an AK pistol, and all officers in the department are issued a short memo to avoid future speculation and confusion
Did the man carry the AK pistol that day to try to “push the limits” of the law? Probably, but the law does not specify that rifle caliber handguns are not allowed so why not?
Is painting an orange tip on your AK pistol a dumb idea? Seems kind of pointless, but again I don’t see the problem. If he had a realistic looking airsoft gun people would have still called the cops and it would have been treated the same way (up until the police took it off him and realized it was airsoft)
Are rifle caliber pistols ridiculous for self defense? Depending on the situation it might be overkill. Such a powerful round definitely has risk of over penetration which could result in collateral damage, so that’s never good.
Do you think it would be a good idea for the same Tennessee man (or anyone else) to open carry an AK pistol or something similar in the near future? Definitely a good idea, in fact I’d recommend it if open carry is allowed in your state. The more reported incidents there are like this, people will realize what I mentioned above… the simple presence of a gun does not mean people are going to die.
I have to stress that you should always treat law enforcement with respect. It is definitely in your best interest, considering they will always have the upper hand. If you feel they are asking questions that are out of line, then get a lawyer. Always know your rights.
Buy your own Romanian Draco AK-47 pistol to open carry for $350 – HERE
Link to the AR15.com post by the Tennessee open carry man himself (username: kwikrnu) – HERE