Does the "Good Guy with a Gun" Theory Make it Harder for Cops to Search Suspects?

The Florida House Criminal Justice Committee has advanced a bill (SB 621) that would allow school-designated individuals, who undergo 40 hours of FDLE gun training, to carry a gun with them while they are on school campuses.


This proposed law is part of a greater national push to allow more and more firearms in public places. While supporters of these provisions often cite that "good guys with guns can help stop bad guys with guns," these laws can have the unintended consequence of removing an important tool that law enforcement use to justify "stop and frisks," making it harder for them to prevent tragedies before they happen.


This situation typically plays out as follows:

"That guy looks suspicious, let's stop and frisk him, I'll bet he's got drugs on him."

Then, in the police report, the officer will write:

"The suspect was in a no carry zone. I saw a bulge in his waist area. Given my training and experience, I reasonably suspected that said bulge was a firearm. Even if one has a concealed weapons permit, you cannot possess a gun in this area. Therefore, I stopped and frisked the individual. No gun was found, but I did find a joint, so I arrested him for possession of marijuana."

Similarly, if an officer reasonably believes that a suspicious looking person has a gun on him, and that suspect is near a school or a church, we, as a society, want to that officer to be empowered to stop that threat before it happens. These broader gun laws, which are intended to empower the "Good Guys," often have the unintended consequence of removing essential policing tools… because suspecting that a person has a gun near a school (for instance) would no longer be illegal… and therefore this suspicion would not constitute reasonable grounds to detain and search a suspect.

If you feel that you have been unlawfully searched, contact Florida Bar Board Certified Criminal Trial Expert Benjamin Jones for a free consultation at 407-426-5757 or email at mail@LongwellLawyers.com.