ORLANDO — George Zimmerman, who shot and killed Trayvon Martin on February 26, hasn’t just avoided arrest — he is still licensed to carry a concealed handgun in the State of Florida. This morning, local civil rights leaders called on Gov. Rick Scott (R) to suspend Zimmerman’s concealed carry permit to protect the public.
Wesley T. Leonard of the Florida Civil Rights Association, flanked by numerous civil rights attorneys, clergy and community activists, spoke outside the office of the state’s licensing division in Orlando. The group argues that “Mr. Zimmerman is not fit to maintain his license because he has demonstrated to be a clear threat to public safety.”
Ordinarily, a concealed permit in Florida can only be suspended after an arrest. But in an interview with ThinkProgress, Orlando civil rights attorney Shayan Elahi explained that Scott has broad executive powers that gives him the authority to suspend Zimmerman’s license in the name of public safety.
Elahi argued that action by Scott was essential in light of the “botched” investigation by the Sanford police, which accepted Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense despite numerous witnesses and other evidence that conflicts with his account. Zimmerman would then be able to contest the suspension at an administrative proceeding within 20 days.
Thus far, Scott’s administration is defending its decision to keep Zimmerman’s permit active, arguing that “short of a permit holder being convicted of a felony, the state does not have the authority to revoke a permit.”
Elahi also criticized the decision of Brevard-Seminole State Attorney Norman Wolfinger to send the case to a grand jury rather than charging Zimmerman himself. According to Elahi there is concern in the Florida civil rights community that these proceedings are secret, so the public will never know what evidence is or is not presented to a grand jury. If Zimmerman was simply charged, all proceedings would take place in open court.