Online bidding for George Zimmerman’s gun has reached $65m (£45m), less than a day after it was relisted on the site UnitedGunGroup.com, in what appears to be an effort by internet trolls to highjack the auction.
Bidding for the firearm - used by Zimmerman in the 26 February 2012 killing of the unarmed, black teenager Trayvon Martin - started at $5,000 Thursday evening. The top bid by early Friday morning exceeded the $65m mark, placed by a user called “Racist McShootface”. The account was later deleted.
Multiple bids of more than $400,000 were placed under the name of “Tamir Rice”, after the 12-year-old child killed by a Cleveland police officer while holding a toy gun.
United Gun Group, a gun-selling community launched after Facebook banned the private sell of guns on its site, hosted the listing of Zimmerman’s Kel-Tec PF-9 9mm handgun after a first site had rejected it.
“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,” the site’s founder, Todd Underwood, told the Washington 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 the gun was temporarily removed from the site Thursday night becuase the listing was not in “the best interest” of the site.
“Our mission is to esteem the 2nd amendment and provide a safe and secure platform for firearms enthusiasts and law-abiding citizens; our association with Mr. Zimmerman does not help us achieve that objective,” the company wrote in a statement.
But the controversial handgun, which Zimmerman regards as an “American Firearm Icon”, is still listed on the United Gun Group site. According to a bid clock, the auction will end around 18 May.
Mr Underwood was not immediately available to confirm the authenticity of the bids or if he intends to keep the listing on the site.
Zimmerman first listed the pistol on GunBroker.com Wednesday night. The gun was removed the following morning by the site administrator, who invoked the company’s right to reject listings at their discretion in a statement.
“We want no part in the listing on our web site or in any of the publicity it is receiving,” the statement said. Zimmerman told the Post that “Gun broker was not prepared for the traffic and publicity” of the firearm.
Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin in a Sanford, Florida, gated community while the 17-year-old was walking to his grandparents’ house. He was charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter, but acquitted by a jury in 2013 due to the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law - which does not require an attempt to retreat before using deadly force as self-defence.
When asked to comment on the auction, lawyers for the Martin family declined, saying: “The Trayvon Martin Foundation is committed to its mission of ending senseless gun violence in the United States … [and] has no comment on the actions of that person.”
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