“A license to carry a concealed weapon is not a license to use it”
George Zimmerman was licensed to carry a concealed weapon, but no one is licensed to use deadly force except as a last resort in extreme, life-threatening circumstances. As the lawyer for Trayvon’s family has stated, “[Zimmerman] had a gun, Trayvon only had Skittles”. It seems highly unlikely that even in the event of a physical altercation, Zimmerman would have felt that his life was in imminent danger.
Florida law allows for the use of deadly force in certain extreme scenarios. Deadly force is permitted in order to protect oneself or another person from death or serious bodily harm, or to prevent a forcible felony such as rape, robbery, burglary, or kidnapping.
Florida law specifically notes that verbal threats are not justification for the use of deadly force, nor are most physical fights. An example of a situation that does not merit deadly force given by a Florida legal resource reads:
Two neighbors got into a fight, and one of them tried to hit the other by swinging a garden hose. The neighbor who was being attacked with the hose shot the other in the chest. The court upheld his conviction for aggravated battery with a firearm, because an attack with a garden hose is not the kind of violent assault that justifies responding with deadly force.
Similarly, it seems highly implausible that a physical attack by one unarmed 140 pound teenager would be able to inflict on an adult male with a deadly weapon would ever truly merit the use deadly force.
Under Florida law deadly weapon does not even have to be fired to secure a conviction for battery, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, or improper display of a firearm. In 1987, a Florida woman was convicted of aggravated assault with a firearm for brandishing an unloaded gun at a mechanic. The woman, a mother of three with no prior charges or convictions, had to serve a mandatory three-year sentence.