Realistic Gun T-Shirts Have Good Intentions but Dangerous Risks

Paul Liebe has started selling realistic gun T-shirts from his Colorado business, Nitelife Billiards. The T-shirts, with realistic prints of guns in holsters, are designed to be conversation-starters about the second amendment:

“Freedom of speech, it’s your right, and it just has a little kick on the side,” Liebe said.

Among the cue balls and pool sticks are open carry custom shirts sporting a realistic gun in holster and shoulder strap that make it appear the person wearing it is carrying openly.

Liebe says the shirts started as friendly gifts around town, but soon orders started coming in from all over the country. Now they have gone global with boxes of orders stacking up.

They also come with a warning about how to wear the realistic gun T-shirts. Police, according to the warning, are likely to overreact to the T-shirts. You think? The warning mentions the obvious: Don’t reach for the printed gun or put your hand near it when confronted by police, and listen to and comply with all police orders.

These seem like no-brainers. And they bring up the obvious question: Are these realistic gun T-shirts even worth the risk? Sure, they’re cute. And they’re not illegal, yet. But why not just actually carry a weapon? And is it even a terribly good idea to open carry? It makes people unnecessarily uncomfortable around you in many cases. It puts police on super high alert. And it could make you a target for gang violence and the like.

This is especially the case since most open carry laws prohibit having a loaded firearm unless the carrier also has a concealed carry permit. If you already have a concealed carry permit, it seems like a better idea to just conceal your loaded weapon.

So, at the end of the day, these realistic gun T-shirts seem to have all the controversy and risks of open carrying without any of the benefits. They may make a statement, but it’s not one that seems terribly prudent given the risks.