Social media and sensationalized reporting have made "innocent until proven guilty" a thing of the past.
The next public topic of discussion, which will inevitably inspire more social media outrage and hatred toward Zimmerman, will be regarding the return of Zimmerman's handgun to his possession. The Huffington Post, among others, have reported that Zimmerman's gun, which was indisputably used to kill Trayvon Martin, will be returned to him.
… and rightfully so.
Zimmerman will now likely legally repossess and carry his handgun, a 9mm Kel-Tec.
Since his acquittal, Zimmerman has reportedly gone underground, resorting to disguises and a bullet-resistance vest in an attempt to avoid vigilante attacks. Mark O'Mara, Zimmerman's defense attorney, claimed in an exclusive interview with ABC News that he believes Zimmerman will now need the gun more than ever.
Since the jury's decision, Twitter and other outlets have exploded with death threats. Public figures like New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz predicted Zimmerman's death in a tweet which has since been deleted.
Shirts depicting Zimmerman's face with cross hairs and racial epithets were sold outside of the Sanford, Florida courthouse.
Zimmerman's life will now be changed forever. With the mainstream media covering every aspect of the trial and Twitter / Facebook viral posts of his face, the Zimmerman trial and images will be recognized nationwide. For many, Zimmerman has unjustifiably come to represent the face of racism in the United States. His safety will most certainly be at risk for many years to come.
The prosecution team, in response to the news of Zimmerman carrying his handgun once again, expressed their opinion that he "had better be careful" with the conditions under which he carries it and that it had better be under the right circumstances. Additionally, they also implied that he was guilty or hiding something because he did not take the stand in his own defense — something he has every right not to do. Their opinions and harsh view of Zimmerman, despite the justice system finding him not guilty, can easily inspire hostility.
Despite social media and the mainstream media's conviction of Zimmerman, we are a nation of laws. George Zimmerman has been found not guilty by the best system of justice that we have came up with. There is no reason, given our laws, that Zimmerman should be barred from repossessing his firearm. He legally owned it prior to the shooting and given the lack of a guilty verdict, he can still legally own and carry it. He truly will need it now, more than ever before, to defend himself from those who wish him harm and might take the law into their own hands.
Out of respect to our nation and to our justice system, collectively, we ought to condemn violence and respect the court system. Racial tension has and will continue plague our nation; this, if anything, might even antagonize tensions. The best thing for everyone is to use this tragedy, which it really is regardless of your opinion of Zimmerman's guilt, to move forward and combat the real problems facing our nation.
Every minute that he is in public, he will likely be recognized and most likely the target of outrage by someone. Remember the verdict, remember our standard that requires evidence for guilt as being "beyond a reasonable doubt."
Our laws are clear — he is not guilty and cannot be treated as if he is. If you believe that Zimmerman ought to be prevented from protecting himself by legally carrying his firearm, then I do ask, who will protect him?
"When seconds matter, the cops are only minutes away."