West Virginia Gun Laws

Citizens, here’s why you should conceal carry your firearm

Open Carry Has Limited Utility

Exercising Second Amendment Rights

Openly carrying a firearm allows you to publicly demonstrate your Second Amendment rights. It can be an effective form of protest or advocacy. However, it also draws additional scrutiny from law enforcement and the public.


Open carry may seem more comfortable than concealed carry, but with the right holster and clothing, concealed carry can also be comfortable. Comfort should not come at the expense of safety and tactics.

Open Carry Puts You at Greater Risk

Increased Police Scrutiny

Openly carried firearms will generate 911 calls and police responses. This can lead to uncomfortable interactions with law enforcement. While most officers support gun rights, open carry demonstrations still create headaches and hassles for them.

Increases Your Visibility to Criminals

Openly carried firearms effectively announce to criminals that you are armed. This can make you a target for robberies, assaults, and other crimes intended to separate you from your weapon.

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Makes You a Target for Disarmament

Statistics show many police officers are killed with their own service weapons every year. Open carry puts citizens at risk for the same, as criminals will see you as an easy target to be disarmed.

Maintaining Situational Awareness is Challenging

Being Hypervigilant is Exhausting

Safely open carrying requires being constantly alert and aware of your surroundings. You must be prepared to defend yourself against surprise attacks. This level of hypervigilance is mentally and physically draining over time.

Criminals May Still Target You

Dedicated criminals conduct surveillance of targets for hours or days before striking. Simply seeing an openly carried weapon may not deter them from robbing a store or attacking a victim. You cannot assume open carry will scare offenders away.

Open Carry is Often a Tactical Disadvantage

Loses the Element of Surprise

Openly carried weapons advertise that you are armed. Criminals get the drop on you, since they know exactly where your gun is located and can initiate contact accordingly. This allows them to dictate the terms of the engagement.

Limits Your Options in a Confrontation

If a criminal gets the drop on you, an openly carried weapon leaves you few options. Any attempt to go for your gun may get you shot. And if the criminal orders you to surrender your weapon, compliance may be your only choice. This effectively takes you out of the fight.

Concealed Carry Has Significant Advantages

Allows You to Maintain Tactical Advantage

Remain Undetected

Concealed carry allows you to blend in with the public, rather than advertising that you are armed. Criminals may not identify you as a threat, allowing an element of surprise.

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Maintain the Element of Surprise

If a criminal initiates a confrontation while you are concealed carrying, they lose the critical advantage of knowing exactly where your gun is located. This may provide opportunities to reach your weapon without escalating the situation.

More Options in a Confrontation

Concealed carry leaves open more options for responding to a threat. You may be able to buy time by complying with criminal demands, waiting for an opening to discretely draw your weapon. Open carry forfeits this tactical flexibility.

Best Practices for Concealed Carry

Know Use of Force Laws

Educate yourself on state laws governing the legal use of deadly force in public spaces. Ignorance of these laws can land you in legal jeopardy, even when defending yourself against criminal threats.

Seek Out Additional Training

Basic concealed carry qualification is not enough. Seek advanced training in firearms handling, retention, and defensive tactics. This will prepare you to responsibly use your weapon under pressure.

Maintain Proficiency

Practice regularly with your concealed carry weapon to maintain shooting accuracy and safe weapons handling skills. This ensures you can deploy it quickly and precisely if needed.

Consider Whether to Intervene

Simply being armed does not make you an officer of the law. In volatile situations that do not directly threaten you, keeping your weapon holstered may be the wisest and safest choice. Every scenario is different. Think critically before drawing your weapon.


While open carry has some limited applications, it has significant downsides in terms of personal safety and tactics. Concealed carry mitigates these weaknesses substantially, while retaining critical tactical advantages in self defense situations. Responsible concealed carriers must train extensively and educate themselves on legal use of deadly force. Done properly, concealed carry keeps citizens safe while protecting their rights under the Second Amendment.

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What are the main disadvantages of open carry?

The main disadvantages are it draws additional police scrutiny, advertises that you are armed to criminals, makes you a target for disarmament attempts, and forfeits the element of surprise in defensive situations.

When is open carry appropriate?

Open carry demonstrations can be appropriate forms of Second Amendment advocacy, especially when done in large groups with law enforcement coordination. Outside of controlled demonstrations, concealed carry is typically the better option.

Doesn’t openly carrying a gun deter crime?

While it may in certain situations, serious criminals often conduct extensive planning before committing crimes. Simply seeing an openly carried weapon is unlikely to deter them once action is imminent. Concealed carry retains the element of surprise.

Can concealed carry be comfortable?

With a quality holster and proper clothing, concealed firearms can be quite comfortable for everyday carry. Comfort should not override personal safety and defensive responsibility when carrying in public.

Why get training beyond basic concealed carry certification?

Additional defensive training, including firearms handling, retention techniques, de-escalation, and legal concepts better prepares you to use concealed weapons responsibly. Basic certification only teaches basic safety and marksmanship.

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