My wife and I each have handguns and carry permits. We also live in Tennessee, where carrying is not at all frowned upon from a governmental/legal perspective, as long as the carrier has his or her permit. I'm on the fence when it comes to the concealed vs open carry discussion. I get the appeal of each, but personally, I conceal. Everyone makes good, valid points in favor of open carry, yet I still feel slightly uncomfortable doing it, because I know it makes others feel uncomfortable. It's unnecessary for me to put them in that state when I don't have to.
I don't mean for this to come off as offensive to anyone, but there are different kinds of individuals who carry. Not everyone's the same, and it's that mystique that frightens people. I like to think I fall into the carry category of strictly for protection and self defense purposes. I actually hate feeling like I have to carry at all. I see other individuals who carry because they can, waving the US Constitution Second Amendment flag, in addition to self defense, which is also fine. I do often question the intent of some of those people. Then there are those who are incredibly responsible and fall into a bit of each category.
Here's how it boils down for me:
When people are in public around other people whom they have no familiarity, they know only of each other what their outward appearance tells them. Until I've spoken to someone who has an exposed firearm on their hip, it's difficult for me to not make some general assumptions about the intent behind their carry. I don't look at that person and immediately think to myself, "oh, there's a responsible gun owner and if we encounter a troublesome situation, thank goodness they're here to help protect everyone." I reserve those notions for individuals in law enforcement (perhaps a bit naive?). In all likelihood, what I'll probably think is, "hmmm...let's distance ourselves from that person." All that person has done is tell me that he/she has a gun and nothing more. Frankly, since I don't know them, I'd rather not know if they're carrying...ignorance is bliss.