For some Americans, happiness isn’t a warm gun but a nearby gun, one snugly holstered to the hip like a gunfighter’s. Since 2004, the most vocal proponents of expanding Second Amendment laws to encourage Americans to carry loaded sidearms in public are the devoted members of the “Open Carry” movement—an inchoate mass numbering in the tens of thousands, according to their website. The group consists of armed citizens who go about their business in public with unconcealed weapons attached to their belts wherever possible. They believe that more guns will lead to less crime.
Firearm laws vary state-to-state, but in 14 states across the country—with the right permits—it’s perfectly legal to walk around with a holstered weapon in full display. Just this week, it was announced that open-carry bills sailed through the Oklahoma state legislature. (As the Wall Street Journal reported, Representative Steve Martin, a Republican who co-authored the House bill, said: “Just because some people are not in favor of the practice doesn’t mean we should forbid it. If that were the case, we would also ban face-piercing.”) Minnesota was the most recent state to relax its gun laws, in 2005.