Okay, I decided to post this, I hope it doesn't become extremely controversial. I support the idea of open carry, and I guess it goes all the way back to my youth as to why I think it is good. I'm going to detail a few experiences of mine, probably going to be a long read.
From the time I was in 5th grade until about the 10th grade, I was the shortest boy in my school. The only person we had who was shorter was a girl. As such, I was the low-hanging-fruit for the school bullies. And we had a lot of them. The bullies picked on a lot of kids, but I was their favorite. Now, I know many people will suggest that I brought it on myself because I mouthed off, or started trouble. Before that even comes up, I will tell you right now that this is not the case. I was very shy, I tried my best not to talk to anyone at school. I tried my very best to avoid the bullies whenever possible. They bullying really started in 6th grade and went into highschool. Usually 2 or more of them would confront me, call me names, push me around, and even hit me in order to evoke some kind of response. At that age, my response was usually to start crying. I couldn't help it. But they loved it, that was what they wanted to see. I would never fight back. I was afraid that if I hit one of them that I would make things worse for myself. Some of these kids even threatened to kill me. Now, this was back in the 1980's and sort of out the country. This was long before the days of having police officers and security guards in schools. Even if we had those, it wouldn't have helped because often they'd track me down as I was trying to get home. It was not unusual for me to come home with bruises, bloody lip, and crying. My parents called the school many times, but nothing ever came of it.
Then, one day my life changed forever. About 7 of the bullies had dragged me into a secluded area behind the school during lunch period. They were pushing me around inside of a circle. One would hit me, then shove me to the opposite side like they were playing volley ball and I was the ball. They were hitting me pretty hard and laughing and having a good ole' time. I was just about at the point where I thought they would kill me, and there was pretty much no way I was going to make things worse for myself. So I punched the ringleader right in the nose. He fell on the ground, holding his nose, bleeding all over the place. At that moment I saw the look in his face and couldn't believe it. He was afraid of me. I began to run after him but he retreated. When I turned around, expecting the other 6 boys to all attack me, they backed off. They wanted nothing to do with me. It was that point I realized that they were all cowards. And here I thought I was the coward and they were the brave ones. So I continued to chase after the ringleader and scuffled and fought with him some more. He hit me a few times but with the adrenaline going I barely felt it. We continued to fight until a bunch of teachers came and separated us.
I was suspended from school. How was that for irony? The bullies hit me hundreds of times, and nothing happened to them. But when I fought back, I was punished. Truth be, I didn't care about the suspension. I had made a breakthrough. Those bullies NEVER bothered me again. And I realized that my problem all along had been that I allowed myself to be a target. By not fighting back, I presented myself as target that they could hit anytime they wanted without consequence. They were not brave, they weren't even that strong, it turns out. I learned that bullies don't want a fight. They act like they want a fight, but they really don't. They just like to act tough. That is why I can't stand all of these darned psychologists that say you should ignore the bullies, and not to fight them. Bull! If anyone ever asks me, I tell them punch the bully right in the face the first time he messes with you and you'll never hear from him again.
Once I got about 20, I started taking self defense classes. Too bad I hadn't had any of those classes back in my school days. Anyway, besides learning to fight hands on, I also learned a lot about criminal situations. A lot more than what we learn in our CHL classes. We learned about situational awareness, how to spot potential criminals before they pounce, etc. We also learned how to posture ourselves to make us look less attractive. For example, don't be talking on your cell phone when walking through a parking lot. Stand up straight, look confident, like you are on a mission. Robbers look for people who are not paying attention. They want easy targets, or low-hanging-fruit, so to speak. I don't try to act like a macho-man or anything. But when I'm alone, especially in public, I put on a different persona than I do when I'm around people I know. The idea is that if somebody is looking to mug me, they'll see me, but decide I might put up a fight. So instead 90% of your typical street criminals will avoid me. They'd rather wait for a woman talking on her phone, carrying a baby, or arguing with her 4-year old, or better yet - listening to her iPod. Those are much easier targets.
So, the way I see it, if I had a gun on my hip that is going to make a big difference to your typical street criminal. Now, I realize that there are times where that won't deter somebody. It just depends on what their motivation is. If it is a personal vendetta, and they think they can catch you by surprise, that may be different. Even wearing a shirt that suggests maybe I am into guns as a hobby, such as my Glock shirt, would most likely make me an undesirable target for somebody scoping out a parking lot for a mugging. I could also walk around dressed in my martial arts outfit, and achieve the same effect. (too bad the law won't allow me to wear a sword)
I have to wonder, even that situation I talked about that happened 10 years ago with the car full of thugs. If they had known I had a gun, it is likely they would have just kept driving.
Now I may be totally off track on this line of thinking. But I suggest that 90% of criminals are cowards just acting tough because it is part of their persona, much like the bullies I dealt with as a child. The other 10% are probably psychopaths and have no sense of fear at all. Those are probably the only ones I need to worry about.
Maybe some of the LEOs on this forum could verify or debunk what I just said. Obviously I don't have a book of statistics, but I think those numbers are good guesses.