This question can have a thousand different answers depending on what state, city, county, or even street you live in! It will have a lot to do with the societal norm in that respective area.
For instance, some people here feel that it's a violation of rights for an officer to ask ID when first making contact with an OCer. This could be true if the involved state requires more than just a firearm to stop & detain. Keep in mind I said "detain." Walking up and making consensual contact is not illegal anywhere. Even asking for ID can be construed as consensual. It's up to the courts in the state to interpret when the consensual contact becomes a "detainment." In TN, it is unlawful to carry a handgun (open or concealed) without a valid handgun carry permit. Technically under statute I can walk right up to you and your open-carried weapon and demand to see your permit to carry it. The permit is a defense to unlawful carry. If you fail to show it, then I can arrest for unlawful carry and you can offer your permit as a defense to the charge in court. Under statute it also requires the permit holder to show ID when requested by LE, so we have some wiggle room in my state. BTW, I have yet to approach and demand to see a permit based on the sole observation of open-carry. If I've asked about a weapon, it's been during a traffic stop or other investigatory encounter.
Another example would be something as simple as the common method of carry in your neck of the woods. Although permit holders have the option to carry open or concealed in TN, most in my area choose to carry concealed. I'm in a large urban environment. I would say in more rural areas of TN open carry may be more common. I don't know as I don't work those areas. With that said, it doesn't mean I'm going to approach and investigate a person carrying openly, but depending on the time, area, movements, body language, and a multitude of other things, I will make a judgment call whether to keep driving along or stop and make contact. Again, if I keep the contact consensual, things the holder says or does can rise to a situation where I may ask for the permit or it moves into something else.
I think it's ill-informed to make a blanket statement about LEOs and their views of gun holders. I'm sure there are some areas where interactions between gun toters and LEOs have not been that pleasant. I'm sure there are other areas where gun toters have yet to have one negative encounter with law enforcement. The multitude of LE know that we can't be everywhere at all times. As far as most of the officers I've spoke with, we encourage responsible carry. I teach part-time at the state academy and I've been in the business for 10+ years. I've spoken with quite a few LEOs during my career. None of them I have spoke with have ever said that people shouldn't carry guns around. I think most have the same opinion as me. We expect responsible gun carry.
Not to get too long-winded, but also keep in mind that gunfire is usually either the #1 or #2 (sometimes behind traffic crashes) cause of death to police on-duty. Look at the amount of officers just this year who were ambushed with gunfire. We simply cannot make the assumption that every person carrying a firearm is Mary Poppins. I'm going home to see my wife and kids at the end of the day. If that means I have to hurt someone's feelings to do it, then so be it. I have done nothing but been respectful to all of the permit carriers I've stopped in my time. I have arrested several as well, but treated them nicely during the encounter unless it was time not to be nice. Those arrests didn't involve use of their weapon, but simply having it while being DUI or involved in other non-threatening criminal activity.
Bottom line, there are way too many variables at play to give one simple statement about LEOs and their opinion on gun carriers. In my opinion, based on my work in my area, we encourage carry as long as it's done responsibly. I just ask that holders try to put themselves in our shoes every once and awhile. I encourage everyone to go on a ride-a-long if they ever get the chance. I think it will open your eyes a little bit about why LE in general are precautionary when dealing with weapons. There's always a LEO that will be a butt-head during a weapon-related encounter, but it's immature to suggest that all LE is the same way. That's like any other profession. If I get a plumber or carpenter who screws me from a job, I don't assume all of them are crooked or bad at what they do.
Sorry for the long post. My .02.
Last edited by SgtScott31; 10-06-2012 at 00:13..