George Zimmerman must find a new auction website on which to sell the gun purportedly used to kill Trayvon Martin after his first choice turned him down, according to a statement posted Thursday by GunBroker.
“Our site rules state that we reserve the right to reject listings at our sole discretion, and have done so with the Zimmerman listing,” the GunBroker statement said. “We want no part in the listing on our web site or in any of the publicity it is receiving.”
Three years ago, Zimmerman was acquitted in the 2012 fatal shooting of Martin, an unarmed African-American teen, after he claimed self-defense.
The gun was supposed to be auctioned off on GunBroker, beginning at 11 a.m. ET Thursday. Zimmerman told CNN he moved the auction to another website, giving a different reason than GunBroker.
“Unfortunately, (the site) was not prepared for the traffic and publicity surrounding the auction of my firearm,” Zimmerman said in a text. “It has now been placed with another auction house.”
‘A piece of American history’
Zimmerman is now trying to sell the gun through United Gun Group, an online marketplace for firearms. The new website listed the weapon at a starting bid of $5,000, the same as on the previous site.
“I am honored and humbled to announce the sale of an American firearm icon,” the post said. “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.”
The post bragged about the gun’s popularity, describing it as a “piece of American history.” The post, and the site, were inaccessible late Thursday afternoon when CNN tried to view them.
United Gun Group owner Todd Underwood told CNN he’s offered Zimmerman advice on how to handle the transaction if the gun sells.
Zimmerman will be responsible for having his licensed firearms dealer ship the 9mm pistol to another dealer chosen by the auction winner. The second dealer would have to perform background check before handing over the pistol to the new owner, Underwood said.
Underwood described his website as a “social market for firearms community.” Services are free and no money is made, he said.
The posting on United Gun Group, apparently written by Zimmerman, said many museums, including the Smithsonian Institution, have “expressed interest in owning and displaying the firearm.”
But the Washington-based Smithsonian released a statement saying, “We have never expressed interest in collecting George Zimmerman’s firearm, and have no plans to ever collect or display it in any museums.”
Since his acquittal in 2013, Zimmerman has made news several times, including an arrest in a domestic violence case. Prosecutors dropped the charges after his girlfriend refused to cooperate with the investigation.
‘I’m a free American’
Zimmerman’s plans to auction the weapon surfaced Wednesday.
In an interview with WOFL-TV in Orlando, Zimmerman said he decided to sell the weapon and move past it.
“I recently received it back from the Department of Justice,” he said. “They took it after my trial, after I was exonerated.”
Zimmerman told the station he has had death threats since he put the gun up for sale.
“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.”
Proceeds from the gun’s sale were supposed to be used to “fight [Black Lives Matter] violence against law enforcement officers,” according to the original post that later disappeared.
After rejecting the Zimmerman weapon, GunBroker issued this full statement:
“Late last night, George Zimmerman created a listing on our web site for the gun from the Trayvon Martin case four years ago. Mr. Zimmerman alerted news organizations that began reporting on the listing first thing this morning. Listings … are user-generated, exactly like social media posts. Mr. Zimmerman never contacted anyone at GunBroker prior to or after the listing was created and no one … has any relationship with Zimmerman.
“Our site rules state that we reserve the right to reject listings at our sole discretion, and have done so with the Zimmerman listing. We want no part in the listing on our web site or in any of the publicity it is receiving. GunBroker prides itself in being a safe and legal way to buy and sell firearms online in full compliance with all Federal, State, and local laws. GunBroker proudly supports the Second Amendment rights of the American public. GunBroker will not be fielding press inquiries regarding this matter.”
Martin’s family: Focus is on ending gun violence
Martin’s family earlier declined to comment on the purported sale of the gun, saying the Trayvon Martin Foundation is focused on ending gun violence in the United States.
“This election season, we are laser focused on furthering that mission,” Martin’s family said in a statement.
“As such, the foundation has no comment on the actions of that person.”
The former neighborhood watch volunteer admitted to shooting Martin in February 2012 but said he was defending himself after the teenager attacked him.
His acquittal sparked nationwide debate and protests in a case that was racially charged from the start.
Critics of the verdict have described Zimmerman as an overzealous wannabe police officer who racially profiled Martin and shot him down.