Illustration by Jason Reed (Licensed)
The Kel-Tec PF-9 pistol was the weapon employed by Zimmerman in a 2012 altercation in Sanford, Florida, that left the unarmed African-American teenager dead. The shooting sparked a national outcry about the intersection of racism, violence, and “stand your ground” laws. While Zimmerman became an infamous figure across the country, he was acquitted of charges relating to Martin's death the following year.
Zimmerman is reportedly in the process of vetting several offers made on the gun.
The Orlando Sentinel reports that the top bid on the firearm, which came in at $138,000, wasn't serious. Instead the bid, which was attributed to a user with the handle “John Smith,” was the work of a prankster who wrote a computer program to automatically bid for him in an effort to drive up the price.
Ever since Zimmerman announced the sale of the gun earlier this month, the auction has attracted trolls aiming to disrupt it. Users deluged the auction site with fake bids, including a $65 million offer from someone going by the handle “Racist McShootface.”
The listing initially appeared on the site GunBroker.com, but was removed by site administrators following the subsequent uproar. “We want no part in the listing on our web site or in any of the publicity it is receiving,” a spokesperson for GunBroker.com wrote in a statement.
The listing soon reappeared on the site UnitedGunGroup.com. Todd Underwood, the owner of United Gun Group, has insisted he was simply acting as a neutral platform for buyers and sellers engaged in an entirely legal activity. “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 Washington Post. “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.”
A message sent to United Gun Group was not immediately returned.
In his description of the firearm, Zimmerman pledged that “a portion of the proceeds will be used to: fight BLM [Black Lives Matter, an anti-racism movement in part sparked by Martin's death] violence against Law Enforcement officers. ... and Hillary Clinton's anti-firearm rhetoric.”
Shortly after the sale was announced, Martin's father released a statement declining to directly address Zimmerman's efforts to profit from his son's death.Nevertheless the sale has attracted widespread criticism. In a column for the Miami Herald, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Leonard Pitts, Jr. compared the sale to the practice to selling the body part of African-Americans who were lynched during Jim Crow-era. “People claimed hundreds, thousands, of trophies from the murders of African Americans. They kept bones. They kept sexual organs. They kept photographs of themselves, posed with mutilated corpses,” Pitts opined. “So perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised to see it happen with Trayvon.”
In the years since his acquittal, Zimmerman has remained in the headlines. He attracted attention for retweeting an image of Martin's dead body. He teamed up with the owner of a Florida gun store, which had declared itself a “Muslim-free” zone, to sell Confederate flag art. He was also suspended from Twitter for posting a revenge porn image of his ex-girlfriend, who described their relationship in an interview with the Daily Dot as “horrible.”