A violent crime can occur anywhere at any given moment. However, it should not be a surprise to anyone that violent crime occurs more often in urban environments than in suburban or rural communities. A person venturing into a well-populated city for business or recreation would be well advised to conduct some pre-trip planning to ensure a safe stay. Accordingly, persons who are concerned about big city crime may wish to legally carry their firearms for personal protection during their visit. Appropriate arrangements should be made to ensure a hassle-free and safe experience.
Statutorily Defined Firearm Concerns
The first consideration for carrying a firearm in the city is to ensure you are aware of any local ordinances regarding firearms. In some states, such as Michigan, firearm laws are "pre-empted" at the state level. As such, firearm laws are uniform and the same all across the state. However, in other states, such as North Carolina, gun laws may vary depending on what county you are visiting. Furthermore, different cities within a county may have varying laws at the city level. Failing to know the laws of the city you are visiting is not a legally valid excuse of running afoul of them.
You should be aware of the statutorily defined "gun-free zones" in the city you are visiting. In addition, you should also research all of the businesses on your itinerary to see if they have any company-specified bans on carrying firearms for visitors. If your plans involve traveling to and entering these areas, you must decide upfront what you are going to do with your gun. You may elect to leave your firearm in your vehicle, if local law allows you to do so, but please be mindful that criminals frequently prowl parking lots of "gun-free zones" looking to steal firearms from unattended vehicles. Thus, if you must leave your gun in your car, it would be wise to secure it in a car safe.
If the risk of having your firearm stolen from your vehicle is too great for comfort, you may want to have it secured in a safe in your hotel room or in a safe at the hotel's front desk. Do not just leave your firearm unattended in a hotel room, despite how well you think you can hide it. If there are no safes available at the hotel or you can't securely store your gun in your vehicle, you're best bet may be to leave it at home.
Soft Personal Protection Tips
A great way for visitors to stay safe in urban environments is to always be aware of their surroundings. Large cities offer many visual distractions that can prevent visitors from identifying potential threats. As such, activities performed in public—such as talking on a cell phone, taking tourist photos and reading maps—can signal that a person is "safe" to victimize. A defensive firearm has no practical benefit if the carrier is not paying attention to his environment.
A predator prefers an unaware target because the victim won't see the attack coming, which ensures the bad guy's safety. As such, visitors should always be aware of the people around them and what activities they are performing. The tasks strangers are conducting should be congruent to that specific environment. Strangers should not be allowed to violate a visitor's personal space. Crime is a personal affair—it requires the assailant to be physically close to the target. Any variety of ruses can be employed to close that gap, such as requests for assistance, submission of personal questions or attempts to return something you allegedly dropped. Never allow a stranger to encroach and violate your personal space.
Furthermore, a visitor can also enhance his personal safety by confidently and briskly traveling to his destination with a full head of steam. The visitor knows exactly where he is headed, because he did his research online and mapped out his route ahead of time. Accordingly, he can't be easily taken off course by any ruses and doesn't have to depend upon the kindness of strangers to help him make it to his destination. More importantly, he does not appear to be a hapless tourist by any attending predators. The best form of protection is avoidance facilitated by prior preparation.
The Bottom Line: Knowing The Law and Having A Plan
Carrying a defensive firearm for personal protection in an urban environment requires more preparation and active attentiveness than doing so in suburban and rural communities because the risks of being a crime victim are higher. There are more criminals present in the city who are enabled by an even higher number of visual distractions. As a consequence, the defensive-gun carrier should engage in pre-trip planning to ensure a smooth and safe visit to the city. Requisite tasks include conducting firearm-law research and planning an itinerary with travel directions. Moreover, once the visitor has arrived in the city, it is imperative for him to be actively aware of his surroundings and to jealously guard his personal space.