SARASOTA COUNTY – The George Zimmerman “Stand Your Ground” case is throwing Florida's gun laws into the national spotlight. What if any role did they play on why Zimmerman is a free man?
Todd Von Bender is a certified NRA concealed weapons instructor. He knows all about the law of guns in Florida and the rest of country. "What we have in Florida, gun law wise, is really not that different."
He says other than concern for being accosted, most students want to know what their rights are. “Just as much they are afraid of our legal system."
He says for the most part it's simple. "In the State of Florida, without any license whatsoever, you can carry a loaded handgun in your car. It just has to be behind one barrier: a snappable holster, a zipped holster, or behind your glove box…don't need any permit whatsoever."
It gets a little trickier from there. Von Bender says Florida is one of only seven states where you can't walk around with one on your hip. "If you want to exit your vehicle with that loaded gun, then you need a concealed carry permit, because in Florida it has to be hidden. You don't want to scare the tourists, now."
Florida passed the millionth issued permit for that just a few months ago.
He says students also want to know about if they have a gun and get into a violent situation, what their rights are. In 2005, Florida was the first state to enact a Stand Your Ground law without requiring potential victims to first try to flee. People are able to defend themselves with the use of deadly force if you feel someone is trying to kill or seriously harm you.
Since then, 30 other states have passed similar versions. "If they call it Stand Your Ground Law or not, they all have a concept of you don't have to run away," says Von Bender.
The law was not actually used in the George Zimmerman trial, but has still received plenty of attention. "It's amazing how many things are discussed in an issue that are not relevant to an issue. It was not relevant in trial. It did not exist. One person pinned down is not a Stand Your Ground issue. How something started, well, who is to know."
ABC 7 talked with a representative of the ACLU of Florida Monday who says as of right now, they don't have a stance against Florida gun laws.