Open carry laws guarantee the right of citizens to openly carry a gun virtually anywhere, provided they have the right to own a gun. Note that it may be necessary to obtain a permit first. "Open carry" is in contrast with "concealed carry," whereby the gun is concealed from view by others.
The vast majority of states in the United States have open-carry laws, only some of which require a special permit to do it. Effective Jan. 1, 2016, Texas became the largest state to legalize open carry.
Open carry around the world
There are millions of privately owned guns, in the majority of countries (see: List of countries by gun ownership, for details), but national and local gun laws vary widely. In some countries, open carry has a long-standing tradition, is legal, and is still a commonplace sight in rural areas, as part of "strong hunting traditions." But elsewhere, such as in most of Europe except Finland and Switzerland, laws have been enacted to require registration of firearms. Social stigma is also a factor in Europe, where gun owners are often distrusted by both government leaders and fellow citizens. Tens of millions of guns are held privately and kept hidden in defiance of registration laws in Europe, with many of them dating back to World War II. But, obviously, those cannot be carried publicly or taken to a public shooting range.
In some countries, firearms laws are consciously and even contemptuously ignored by the citizenry, who see the right to own and carry firearms as a traditional right that pre-dates the advent of government. The latter is typified in the Philippines and in Yemen, where there are millions of unregistered firearms, and where provincial law enforcement officers often make no attempt to enforce national firearms laws, with many considering the laws intrusive and dictatorial.
Open carry in Africa
The private ownership and open carry of small arms is commonly seen in a number of African countries including Burundi, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan., Uganda, and Zambia. In Somalia, boys as young as nine years old are seen carrying loaded guns. The reasons for the proliferation of arms vary, but often include self-defense, hunting, and protection of livestock. In some African countries such as Kenya and Rwanda, owning and carrying guns is done in defiance of national laws.
Open carry in Asia
In Afghanistan weapon ownership is common some of the rural and border states and union territories of India, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Pakistan (in flagrant disobedience to the "public display" ban enacted in 2000), Sri Lanka, the predominantly Kurdish provinces of Turkey, and Yemen. In Iraq, doctors may carry guns for self-protection.
Open carry in Latin America
Open carry of firearms is fairly common, and predominantly a practice of middle and upper-class residents in the rural regions of many Central American and South American countries, primarily for self-defense. Doing so is legal in most Latin American jurisdictions, but laws on registration and vehicular carry vary widely. Open carry is rare in cities, where concealed carry is more commonplace. These countries include Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guyana, Honduras, and Nicaragua.
Open carry in Oceania
Some citizens of the Pacific Islands fairly regularly carry guns, usually for self-protection and for hunting wild game, including fruit bats. These nations include East Timor (where a ban is in effect, but widely flouted, and a law allowing legal ownership has been proposed), Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, and the Solomon Islands. In East Timor, where somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000 civilians (about one-third of the population) were killed on a genocidal scale, there is a division of opinion. Some idealists want to try to disarm the country, while others see privately owned firearms as insurance that another invasion and genocide won't be again attempted. The Australian reported "Almost all the ammunition and more than half the firearms of East Timor's national police force are missing. Unaccounted for, according to a security analyst, are more than half the 3,000 Glock 9mm pistols issued to the 3,400-member police force (PNTL), whose authority has ceased to exist in Dili. More than half the PNTL's 400 Steyr assault rifles and Heckler & Koch HK-33 assault rifles, 160 of 200 FNC assault rifles and all F-2000 assault rifles issued to police bodyguard units are also missing." Many of these guns ended up in the hands of gangs, but many others are being held by otherwise law-abiding citizens as "[anti-]genocide insurance." In the Philippines, some news reporters carry guns.
- "Gun ban in Yemen ineffective" UPI online edition
- "An African village’s armed self defense story" exainer.com
- "Arms Transfers and Trafficking in Africa" www.defense-aerospace.com
- "Saving Somalia's youth from the gun" Toronto Star online edition
- "Earth Report" Television for the Environment and Television Trust for the Environment Web site
- "Pakistani vigilantes take on Taliban" The Christian Science online edition
- "Yemen's weapon culture" BBC News online edition
- "Iraq says doctors can carry guns for protection" msnbc.com
- "Brazilians reject gun sales ban" BBC News online edition