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Zimmerman at gun show: 'No reason to be angry'

NEED TO KNOW
  • George Zimmerman was a special guest at a gun show in Orlando, Florida, over the weekend
  • He told a reporter he always packs heat and doesn't understand why people are still upset at him
Zimmerman at gun show: 'No reason to be angry'

Zimmerman’s trove of deadly weapons revealed in photos

56 witnesses: Zimmerman trial by the numbers

56 witnesses: Zimmerman trial by the numbers

George Zimmerman was all smiles this past weekend at a gun show in Orlando, Florida, where he made an appearance as a "special guest," signed autographs and took pictures with fans.

Organizers said they had to move their event to a new location after their original event space canceled on them over their controversial guest choice.

The 30-year-old notoriously sparked a heated nationwide discussion of race as well as a debate over Florida's so-called "Stand Your Ground" law after he shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in 2012.

Zimmerman, who was a neighborhood watch captain at the time, had a confrontation with the unarmed African-American teen after calling police to report a suspicious person. He later told police he shot Martin in self-defense. Zimmerman went on trial for second-degree murder in Martin's death and was acquitted by a six-person jury in 2013.

There was no sign of protesters outside the gun show this weekend, which had about 200 people in attendance, according to HLN affiliate WOFL.

Read more: Zimmerman's new 'Angie' art draws scrutiny

After the gun show, Zimmerman spoke exclusively with the TV station and said safety is a serious priority for him.

"I walk around armed. I walk around with a bulletproof vest," he explained. "It’s not even so much for my safety as it is for those around me. I can’t be around my family and have something happen to them. There’s children around me, etc. Those threats -- I have to be able to defend myself against them like any American."

Zimmerman said he didn't understand why people could still be so upset over the not guilty verdict: "I’m willing to talk to everyone and try and answer their concerns and questions and help them realize that there’s no reason to be angry."

Gallery: Zimmerman’s trove of deadly weapons revealed

When asked why he doesn't disguise himself, move away from Florida and get a new name, Zimmerman had this to say: "I do disguise myself, I do wear a hat and sunglasses, etc. But I will never change my name. I’ve had so much taken away from me -- I’ll never let someone take my name away from me. Same reason I won’t leave the United States. This is my country, I won’t leave. No one’s going to make me leave."

Zimmerman said he wanted to make an appearance at the gun show, despite his concerns over safety, to show support to those who supported him during his trial. Those same supporters were also thanked on Twitter by @TherealGeorgeZ (the Twitter account that has been associated with Zimmerman):

 

The account also tweeted about the highlight of the weekend:

It also addressed the heated feelings surrounding the trial:

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