BRISTOL, Fla. - The sheriff of rural Liberty County was acquitted this week of falsifying a document in a gun arrest, and the case is a window into the likely outcome of a hearing next week on the stand your ground law.
Liberty County, with a population just over 8,000, is Florida's smallest county. Its name was inspired from our founding fathers. Guns here are a way of life.
In June, state police arrested Liberty County's sheriff after he set a man free who been arrested by a deputy for carrying a concealed weapon without a permit.
When prosecutors asked a jury pool of two dozen, 'How many of you own a gun,' virtually every hand in the room went up.
Thursday, Sheriff Nick Finch was acquitted. He's already back on the job.
"I think that in this case, you know, Second Amendment issues are important, and I believe in the Second Amendment," said Finch. "I think that, you know, people do have the right to keep, bare arms."
State lawmakers hold a "Stand Your Ground" hearing next week. The committee chairman represents the western Panhandle. He's already vowed not to change even a comma in the law.
Harold Revell was sheriff here for 24 years, which means he knows his voters.
"I didn't worry about people carrying a gun," said Revell. "If you need it, you got it."
As for sheriff Finch, he thinks "Stand Your Ground" has been misused, but he said he is "a supporter in the 'Stand Your Ground' law."
The people who elected Finch agree, right down to the jury that concluded the Second Amendment is as much as a way of life in this rural part of the state as anything else.
Gov. Rick Scott reinstated Finch a couple of hours after the verdict was read by jurors.
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