Zimmerman struggled to find a gun seller that would auction the 9mm pistol. He listed the Kel-Tec PF-9 on UnitedGunGroup.com on Thursday after another website, GunBroker.com, pulled out, saying it wanted “no part” in the sale of a firearm whose use in the fatal 2012 shooting sparked a nationwide debate over race relations and “stand your ground” laws.
“We reserve the right to reject listings at our sole discretion, and have done so with the Zimmerman listing,” a Gunbroker.com statement read. “We want no part in the listing on our web site or in any of the publicity it is receiving.”
UnitedGunGroup.com accepted the controversial auction soon after.
“Unfortunately, Gun broker was not prepared for the traffic and publicity surrounding the auction of my firearm,” Zimmerman said in an email to The Washington Post on Thursday. “It has now been placed with another auction house.”
Todd Underwood, owner of UnitedGunGroup.com, confirmed that the gun was listed on his site, which Underwood called a “pro-Second Amendment community” that was created this year after Facebook banned private gun sales.
“I talked to George Zimmerman earlier today and told him that as long as all laws are being followed, he can list the gun on our site,” Underwood told The Post on Thursday. “I don’t support it, I don’t condone it, I don’t have anything against it. It’s his property, it’s his decision.”
But UnitedGunGroup.com took down the listing Thursday night because, it said, the auction did not reflect the organization’s mission, according to USA Today.
“Our mission is to esteem the 2nd amendment and provide a safe and secure platform for firearms enthusiasts and law-abiding citizens,” the site said in a statement. “Our association with Mr. Zimmerman does not help us achieve that objective.”
The auction, however, was back on the website Friday morning, apparently without explanation.
The listing features the pistol Zimmerman said he used more than four years ago to shoot and kill Martin, an unarmed black teenager, in Sanford, Fla.
“I am honored and humbled to announce the sale of an American Firearm Icon,” Zimmerman wrote for the description of the gun. “The firearm for sale is the firearm that was used to defend my life and end the brutal attack from Trayvon Martin on 2/26/2012.”
By Friday morning, the auction had more than 1,000 bids — including one for $65,039,000.
That bid followed another one for $65 million from “Racist McShootFace,” who was later removed from the website, according to the Associated Press.
Other bidders included one going by the name “Tamir Rice,” a reference to the 12-year-old African-American boy who was fatally shot by police in Cleveland in 2014.
Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter in the fatal shooting of Martin in Sanford, and he was acquitted by a Florida jury in July 2013.
“Why shouldn’t he be selling it?” Underwood, from UnitedGunGroup.com, told The Post on Thursday when asked about outrage sparked by Zimmerman’s auction plans. “Here’s the thing, parents lost their child and as a father it breaks my heart to even contemplate going through what they went through.
“But when you look at the facts of the case, he was charged and he was exonerated by a jury of his peers. This shouldn’t even be a story. A gentleman who did nothing wrong is selling a personal possession of his to the highest bidder.”
Zimmerman said in the listing that proceeds of the auction will be used to “fight [Black Lives Matter] violence against Law Enforcement officers” and to “ensure the demise of Angela Correy’s persecution career and Hillary Clinton’s anti-firearm rhetoric,” though he hasn’t described how that would happen.
Corey, whose name was misspelled, is the special prosecutor who was appointed by then-Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) to investigate Martin’s shooting death.
An attorney for Martin’s family said Thursday that Zimmerman’s plan to auction the gun was “insulting and disrespectful.”
“It is insulting to this family that he would decide that he would sell the gun that he killed their child with,” Daryl D. Parks, one of the attorneys for the family, told The Washington Post. “Think about what that means: This is a gun that took a child’s life, and now he wants to make money off of it.”
On both auction websites, Zimmerman claimed the case number from the trial is written on the gun in permanent marker and that “The Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C.” has expressed interest in “owning and displaying the firearm,” though he did not specify which museum.
The Smithsonian Institution, which operates 19 museums, refuted that claim Thursday morning, before the gun disappeared from the auction site.
“The firearm is fully functional as the attempts by the Department of Justice on behalf of B. Hussein Obama to render the firearm inoperable were thwarted by my phenomenal Defense Attorney,” Zimmerman wrote, “I recognize the purchaser’s ownership and right to do with the firearm as they wish.”
He closed the description with si vis pacem para bellum, which means “If you want peace, prepare for war” in Latin.
Zimmerman told Fox affiliate WOFL on Wednesday that he “recently received [the gun] back from the Department of Justice. They took it after my trial, after I was exonerated.”
He told the Orlando station that he had received death threats since listing the firearm on Gunbroker.com but decided to continue with the sale anyway.
“What I’ve decided to do is not cower,” he said. “I’m a free American. I can do what I want with my possessions.”
Parks, the attorney for Martin’s relatives, said Thursday that “the family does not want to dignify this with a response. Everyone agrees this is insulting and disrespectful. Without question, as time passes, we are seeing more and more the real person — who George Zimmerman really is versus who he was portrayed to be by his defense team.”
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) criticized Zimmerman’s decision to sell the gun in a statement issued shortly before the sale was halted then moved to the second auction site.
“Trayvon Martin’s cold-blooded killer should be in prison,” Jeffries said. “Instead, he is trying to profit from the stunning miscarriage of justice that occurred three years ago in a Florida courtroom. It should shock the conscience of every decent American that this man is peddling his murder weapon for sale. America must reject this merchant of death once and for all.”
Lucy McBath, faith and outreach leader for Everytown for Gun Safety, said in a statement that she was “deeply disappointed” that Zimmerman would try to profit from the “very gun he used to cut that precious life short.”
“But what’s even sadder is that this deplorable lack of value for human life is espoused not only by him — but also by the gun lobby that has created and continues to push for laws that allow people like him to shoot first and ask questions later,” said McBath, whose son Jordan Davis was shot and killed at a Florida gas station in 2012. “Florida’s dangerous Stand Your Ground law was the defense used in Trayvon’s murder and in the murder of my dear son, Jordan Davis. And it’s the same kind of legislation that NRA-backed legislators in Missouri brought up again recently — and that the gun lobby continues to push for in states across the country, including in Florida where they are still trying to expand the law.
“It’s time we stand up to this dangerous thinking — as I know from firsthand experience, the lives of our children and the safety of our communities depends on it.”
This isn’t the first time Zimmerman has caused controversy by selling a personal item. In August, he teamed up with Florida Gun Supply — a store that had publicly declared itself a “Muslim-free zone” — to sell prints of a painting by Zimmerman depicting a Confederate battle flag. It included the inscription, “The 2nd protects our 1st,” presumably referring to the Second and First amendments.
This post has been updated.