Now that he has been cleared of criminal charges, George Zimmerman is free to claim any of his property that was being held as evidence in his murder case — including the gun that was used to kill Trayvon Martin. NBC News reports that it's unlikely that the gun has physically been returned to Zimmerman by now, but since he is no longer an accused criminal and he has no felony convictions on his record, there is nothing to prevent him from owning a gun again or reclaiming the one that already belongs to him.
When asked if he actually will reclaim the Kel Tec 9 pistol, Martin's lawyer, Mark O'Mara, rather ominously replied that there is "even more reason now, isn't there?" O'Mara has repeatedly suggested that Zimmerman's life might be in danger due to vigilante attacks.
Martin's status as a gun owner could change, however, if the federal government decides to press charges, which it still might. The Justice Department says it is considering filing criminal civil rights charges against Zimmerman. The NAACP has also said they will push for such a case, though it will be a difficult road for prosecutors. In order to file and win a federal civil rights claim, the government has to prove that Zimmerman acted against Martin because of his race, and did so while using a "public facility"; in this case, a city street. (That last requirement alone could be tricky, since Martin was killed in a gated community, which the defense could argue is not a public facility.)
The return of Zimmerman's gun is merely another macabre detail to a story that continues to grip the nation even after the trial has ended. A day of nationwide protests on Sunday in likely to spill over into future demonstrations later this week, and with the DOJ investigation and a highly likely civil suit in the works, the story of Martin's death is not about to go away.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.