Scott is a wedding photographer based in Portland, Oregon. He focused primarily on wildlife & nature photography, before shooting his first wedding in Alaska, in 2003. His work has been featured in many publications and he has traveled the World in pursuit of unique and fun weddings.
There are many gun arguments among gun owners, but I feel perhaps the most contentious is around concealed and open carrying. The root of the argument is whether to carry with a round chambered or not.
Initially I was part of the ‘not’ crowd. Some of my thoughts were:
Racking a slide can often be enough intimidation to scare away an attacker;
I do not want a negligent discharge;
If stopped by police, it seems better to announce the weapon is loaded but not chambered;
My muscle memory after years and years of shooting was more familiar with unloaded weapons.
Of course, this view has a bunch of pros and cons. And, yes I have seen the video of an attack where the shooter had no time to even rack the slide and the nasty outcomes of that. But again, my personal pros seemed to outweigh the cons.
That’s when I started realizing this isn’t really a black or white situation. We do not need to always be chambered, and we do not need to always be empty, either.
To me, the decision comes down to risk profile.
While at home, when I feel the risk of one of the kids somehow (I know people say never, but accidents do happen) got ahold of the gun is high, I can keep the chamber empty. I mean the risk of someone entering my home and me not having the situational awareness to get the gun and rack the slide seems pretty remote. So chambered risk is high, unchambered risk is low.
However, once I leave the house, I rack the slide and chamber a round. The risk is higher out there than at home, and the risk of accidental discharge is lower. So it makes sense. The moment I come home and remove my holster, I simply eject the magazine and the chambered round. I am back into a lower risk profile.
And, after concealed and open carrying for many years, I can say my weapon has never had an accidental trigger pull or negligent discharge.
I call this approach of chambered and not chambered hybrid carry.
This approach makes the most sense for me. I can weigh all the risks of chambered and empty, and adapt the scenario to the associated risks.
Hopefully, this approach will also put to bed one of the most contentious arguments in the gun world. Hopefully.
I get this question a lot. And the answer is a resounding YES.
Being vegan I tend to hang with a lot of more “progressive” people, and many of them seem to lack the understanding about AR-15s and why they are important. So I will address my long-winded answer in parts:
Part 1: Basing Rights on Needs
This is a VERY slippery precedent to be setting. As Americans, we are granted a series of rights per our Bill of Rights which is an extension (amendments) of our constitution. Some of these rights focus on religion, speech, press, illegal searches, and self-implication.
Once we ask ourselves what rights are “needed,” we open all of them to the same scrutiny. What if in the future, a loud minority of our population questions our need to free speech? I mean, do we really need it? How about a right to a speedy and fair trial?
The bottom line is that all amendments together are crucial to the freedoms we all enjoy and appreciate. We should not do anything to undermine the inherent “need” of any of them, lest we compromise all of them.
Part 2: The Musket is not the same as an AR-15
Many anti-gunners point to the fact the weaponry available today is crazy advanced against the muskets and muzzleloaders of our forefathers as they inked the constitution. I think in the 1750s the fastest shooter was able to fire about 3 rounds per minute.
At least these are the myths perpetuated by the media.
But, even during the revolutionary war, there were some advanced weapons. The Ferguson rifle shot a projectile MUCH larger than today’s rifles, and could be fired up to 7 rounds per minute. Then there were other advancements like the Puckle Gun, which, in 1722 fired 63 rounds in 7 minutes.
Even the Jennings rifle fired 12 rounds instantly! That rifle was released just 30 years after the Bill of Rights was signed.
But why base our modern day rights off the times and technology of the 1700s? Do we find it odd that people exercise their 1st amendment rights using a computer and not a quill pen and ink?
The point here is that the Brown Bess or the “musket” of the time was about the same weapon that armies and governments were outfitted with. Our founding Fathers wanted the citizenry to always be equal to the military, in an effort to secure a free state.
The bottom line here is that there was no way to predict the future of weaponry when the BOR was ratified. But it is clear to see that even back in the day, there were some pretty crazy guns floating around, and those advancements were there in our founding days.
Part 3: A Gun for Everyman
The AR-15 (which, BTW stands for Armalite Rifle, the company that first designed and produced it) is a basic rifle that is adaptable and customizable in a million different ways. Which is why it is so appealing. When you consider the fact the .223 cartridge is actually pretty underpowered (the military has been looking for a larger caliber replacement for years after claims the 5.56/.223 caliber round is ineffective at stopping enemies), you begin to see it’s utility.
Some people use it for varmint control, some use it for defense (watch this crazy video), and others (like myself) use it for recreational and competition shooting. It is the Jack of all trades and master of none.
After living in Alaska for a few years, I grew addicted to the necessity of carrying a weapon with me in the back country. Call me paranoid, but I like the idea of being able to defend myself against animals (but hopefully never having to). My AR-15 was designed (by me) to be small, reliable, and lightweight. So, I sling it over my back on occasion when exploring into the woods. It is purely my utility rifle. It gets dirty and scratched up, but that is the purpose of it.
That to me is the beauty – and the reason why we need AR-15s. They are simple, customizable, and are OK (not perfect) at just about anything we need them to do.
I know it seems like a logical question. We have a mass shooting, and in our collective anger we ask ourselves if we, the people, really need these guns. But to properly answer that question we need to look at an examine a host of other questions and points. From the constitution, to the utility.
But we also need to remember our rights as Americans were never given to us based on need alone. We have a lot of things we do not need.
In the end, when you consider the low number of crimes committed with these weapons (Nationally, “assault weapons” were used in 1.4% of crimes involving firearms and 0.25% of all violent crime … In many major urban areas (San Antonio, Mobile, Nashville, etc.) and some entire states (Maryland, New Jersey, etc.) the rate is less than 0.1%) and the adaptability, sporting uses, and original intent of the second amendment, the answer is still a resounding YES.
This past week I purchased a brand new Sig Sauer P320. I love the idea of 17+1 capacity with my EDC (Every Day Carry) gun. But it is a full-frame pistol, so concealing it is pretty tough.
So I figured what the heck, I’ll open carry for a week and see what happens. Now it’s important to know I am not one of those open carry a-holes on YouTube that deliberately walk around schools, prisons, and police departments with 20 GoPros strapped on them, ready to document the slightest Law Enforcement slip up. That is not me.
However, if I can open carry a full-frame pistol and happen to have some meaningful conversations along the way, I am all for it.
I find that a lot of the issues surrounding animal rights nowadays are pretty polarizing. On one side, we have organizations like PETA that grab headlines with crazy stunts. On the other hand, we have people like Ted Nugent screaming about how many animals he mercilessly slayed.
I find that the vegans are preaching to the vegan choir, and the hunting, consumptive users are preaching to Ted Nugent.
And, with that scenario, it is impossible to make any progress.
Johnathan Safran Foer, in his book Eating Animals laid out an extraordinary story about a vegan that helped build a slaughterhouse. Basically this vegan wanted the ability to help build and design an ethical(ish) slaughterhouse. This viewpoint is similar to my personal objective on hunting.
1. Global Veganism just ain’t happenin.
Do I wish that tomorrow, the World would be vegan? Yes. Absolutely. We would very quickly improve a lot of the health issueswe all face, as well as make inroads on curing hunger, and potentially reverse climate change, as well as countless other benefits.
But we all know that just about will not happen. So, once we can accept that, we need to ask ourselves the next question.
If the World isn’t vegan, what is the next best moral position?
I always figure that if a hunter can go into the wild, and humanely harvest a mature, legal animal, that is okay. If that hunter can use that animal to feed his family for a long time, that too is okay. But if the taking and eating of that wild animal prevents that family from buying mass-produced, factory-farmed meat, than that is great!
Therefore, to me, that is the better moral position.
2. It’s closer to the natural order
I was not around in the paleo days. I don’t really know if our ancestors ate mastodon or maize-tofu burgers with a sweet chili glaze.
But I do know this, if you yourself hike into the wilderness, humanely take an animal, field dress it, hike it all out, and prepare that grass-fed, humanely-raised meat – that is how it should be.
If you are going to eat meat, this just seems like the way to go.
3. It’s better for people and the animals too
Mass-produced beef today is pumped full of hormones, antibiotics, and other goodies. Cancerous meat is sold for human consumption. The list goes on and on with ways that modern meat is full of junk that people should not be eating.
And, this means less demand on CAFOs for animal-sourced protein which in turn makes it better for the cows/pigs/etc. Might not be so good for the deer in the crosshairs, but if the hunter is legal and ethical, the deer’s days were probably numbered anyway, given the rise of healthy wolf and other predator populations.
4. On Trophy Hunting, Trapping, Bear Baiting and Exotic Sport hunts
I lived in Alaska for about five years. That place was magical in just about every conceivable way. The hardest part of living there? Animals are regarded pretty poorly by the “consumptive” crowd.
It is one of only two states (Maine being the other) that allows bear baiting – the act of deliberately leaving out piles of food and sweets to attract bears, while the hunter “window shops” and finally shoots the one he or she wants.
These are just a fraction of the backwards policies on animal use in Alaska.
If you hunt only for the trophy (typically antlers or a head to mount on the wall) you are a pretty shitty person.
Yeah, I said it. It is one thing if you take an animal and respect it, and consume it in a way that prevents the suffering of other animals. It’s another thing entirely if you take an animal just to have it’s head hanging on your wall, or it’s hide beneath your feet.
That is the line this vegan takes on hunting. If it is needed to feed you and your family, or if you choose that meat as a healthier alternative AND you harvest the animal in a humane manner, I am OK with that.
If you take the animal just for something to look at, than that is completely wrong. Or, if you hunt animals in other countries, ticking off some weird passport of exotic animals, that is completely wrong too.
You may remember the above story that went viral last Summer. It was a great example of what I am talking about. This type of hunting is just plain stupid and wasteful, and if I was a hunter I would be outraged. People like the Texas Cheerleader are making you all look like crazy people.
So, in closing yes I support hunting. But only with a focus on being ethical and legal, and only if the meat is for consumption not some stupid rack on your living room wall.
NOTE: In a recent poll where I asked my readers what type of content they would like to see on this blog, a handful asked for more personal opinion pieces. This is my first in this series.
Sometimes I like Bill Maher. Emphasis on sometimes. He tends to have anger at a time when I need some sort of angry consolation prize. But on a recent show, he and his guests were discussing how America needs to completely redo gun policy and implement tough new controls. But Bill Maher has never really been a fan of gun rights.
It made me realize how far off the liberal, anti-gun agenda is (and I consider myself pretty liberal so this is not a jab).
Like a broken record, it has happened again. And, like a broken record, legal gun owners must mix defensiveness with their mourning for the victims. And, I am pretty sure it will happen again.
Perhaps the one potentially positive outcome from these shootings, is that the national consciousness comes together for a discussion about guns and gun ownership. That debate is often heated, and polarized with little needle movement from either camp.
In my opinion however, we do need to look at current and future gun policy with an eye to both rights preservation and compromise.
I submitted my thoughts to Vice President Joe Biden’s “Gun Control Committee” in the wake of the shooting in Newtown and was thankful to hear from his staff that my comments were included. Most of that stance remains unchanged.
UPDATED! I have purchased another vegan holster, from Bladetech and included it at the end.
I’ll save the whole “Wait…you’re a vegan and you have guns!?” discussion for another day. Yes, yes I own guns and enjoy self-defense and target shooting. Moving on.
One of the hardest things to find for me, is a vegan concealed carry holster. Most brands, made by companies like Galco and others are made mostly with leather and polymer.
Fortunately, when I recently purchased my Springfield XDS .45, the store had an ample supply of vegan holsters made by Blackhawk.
It is important to note that these holsters are not marketed (for obvious reasons) as a vegan holster. They are basically an inexpensive option for people that can’t afford (financially or morally, I guess) the leather versions.
I’ll take it! This puppy was $12.00 and works like a charm. It’s like the Payless shoes for vegan gun owners (vegans will get the joke)!
The nice part about their website is that they also organize the holsters by material. So you can quickly identify which are vegan and which are not. The nylon options are here.
My only complaint is the tapered section (as you see in the image) leaves the grooves on the rear of the slide exposed. When seated, this presses those metal grooves into your back which is not the most comfortable. Eventually this may affect the gun’s finish, but we’ll see.
For a $12.00, non-leather holster you cannot go wrong with this option!
In December, 2015 I was strolling the aisles of my local cabelas, and looked at the plastic CCW holsters they offered. I found this option for the XDS, priced at $23.
Unlike the Blackhawk above, I wanted something that offered more positive locking of the pistol. The holster from Bladetech was inexpensive, solid plastic, and has a positive “click” when the gun is fully seated.
The belt clip also has a much better “barb” that provides more secure carry in the belt.
I have not spent a ton of time with the holster, but the past few days I feel it is comfortable and easy to carry.