Where Florida had an estimated population of 19,057,542 in 2011, the percentage of the population that is licensed to carry a concealed weapon is only five percent (5%). Florida State and County QuickFacts, U.S. Census Bureau, (Sept. 25, 2012), available at http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/12000.html. Given the small percentage of the population that is licensed to carry a concealed firearm, the overwhelming majority of firearms, or 95%, are not licensed to be concealed. Thus, an officer’s suspicion that a firearm is not licensed would be reasonable because, in any given case, there would be, statistically speaking, a 95% likelihood of illegality.
Let's break this down into two parts. First, we have a fact: Only 5% of Florida's 19 million people are licensed to carry a concealed weapon. Then we have a conclusion: It is reasonable for an officer to assume that a subject carrying a concealed weapon is likely not licensed.
This is the kind of mathematical abuse one would expect from a gaffe, but in a brief filed by an attorney general in a court of law? Preposterous!
On the face of it, it appears fine, does it not? If only 5% are licensed, then naturally the odds that a random citizen is not licensed is 95%. Shouldn't that clinch it?
Before we answer that, let's take into account another fact. There are roughly 36,000 police officers in the state. So out of 19 million, just 0.2% are police officers. Based on that fact, can we conclude, in a manner similar to the brief's assertion, that it is reasonable for a citizen to assume that the officer arresting him is in all likelihood (99.8%) an impostor who is simply impersonating a police officer?
Because there is no fact that establishes that 99.8% of the population impersonates police officers, only that 99.8% are not police officers.
Likewise, given that 5% of the population is licensed to carry concealed weapons does not establish the fact that the other 95% carries weapons, let alone concealed weapons or more precisely, concealed weapons illegally. We would also need to know, for example, the statistics on compliance with the law on licensed concealed carrying of weapons. That is, we will need to know how often has an officer investigated a suspect carrying a concealed weapon and found it to be legal. For if the statistics show near total compliance, then the officer is not reasonable if he assumes illegality at all.
Now, is it possible for a Florida police officer to be reasonable and yet assume that a subject carrying a concealed weapon is doing so unlicensed and therefore illegally?
But not on the basis of the deduction cited in the brief.
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