Sanford police officer Timothy Smith holds up the gun used to kill Trayvon Martin, while testifying during George Zimmerman's trial in Sanford, Fla., on June 28.
The weapon George Zimmerman used to kill Trayvon Martin will likely be returned to him, if he requests it.
Shawn Vincent, an aide to defense attorney Mark O’Mara, told NBC News on Sunday that the Keltec 9mm handgun Zimmerman used to shoot and kill Martin on Feb. 26, 2012 will be returned, but said he did not think authorities have released the weapon yet.
“It’s something that will happen, but I don’t think it has happened,” Vincent said.
Vincent cast doubt on reports that the weapon has already been returned to Zimmerman, who was acquitted late Saturday of second-degree murder in Martin's death by a Florida jury.
“I’m not sure that’s accurate,” he said.
Florida law bars people “convicted of a felony in the courts of this state” from possessing “firearms, ammunition, or electric weapons or devices unlawful.”
But because Zimmerman “is not a convicted felon, he can keep his gun,” University of Florida law professor Darren Hutchinson told NBC News on Sunday.
However, matters could get murkier if federal prosecutors file charges against Zimmerman and he is convicted of a federal felony, Hutchinson said.
The Justice Department began reviewing the case less than a month after the shooting in Sanford, Fla., and on Sunday the NAACP launched a MoveOn.org petition calling for civil rights charges.
A statement released by the Justice Department on Sunday said that there is "an open investigation into the death of Trayvon Martin."
Hutchinson said that under Florida law a conviction on a federal felony charge would throw Zimmerman’s ability to possess a handgun “in jeopardy.”
“If the federal government pursues charges against him and they succeed, he would lose his right to possess a gun,” he said.
Zimmerman’s weapon was turned over to police on the night of the shooting and later entered into evidence in Zimmerman’s trial.
The handgun, like all other evidence in the case, has been handled by the Sanford Police Department.
The custodian of records and the evidence team were not available Sunday, so the weapon is unlikely to have been returned to Zimmerman, according to Sanford Police Capt. James McAuliffe.
McAuliffe said he does not believe there would be any restrictions or holds placed on any evidence in the case, now that the trial has come to a close.
He added that Zimmerman would be required to make a formal request for the return of his weapon. At that time, it would be signed over to him with a receipt.
Special Prosecutor Angela Corey said Saturday that the case against Zimmerman had “never been about the right to bear arms."
“This case has never been about race, nor has it never been about the right to bear arms, not in the sense of proving this as a criminal case,” she said in remarks to reporters after the jurors' verdict was read.
“But the right to bear arms is a right in which we all believe. I especially believe in that right,” she said later. “What we want is responsible use when someone feels they have to use a gun to take a life. They have to be responsible in their use and we believe that this case was all along was about boundaries and that George Zimmerman exceeded those boundaries.”
Tracy Connor of NBC News contributed to this report.
George Zimmerman has sued NBC Universal for defamation. The company strongly denies the allegation.
First published July 14 2013, 5:42 PM