ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
An infamous gun is for sale online, starting bid $5,000. The gun belongs to George Zimmerman. Back in 2012, he used it to shoot Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black 17-year-old in Florida. A jury acquitted Zimmerman of all charges, but the shooting helped spark the Black Lives Matter movement.
NPR's Greg Allen reports the gun sale is the latest provocation from a man who just can't stay out of the public eye.
GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: For anyone who followed George Zimmerman's trial for shooting and killing Trayvon Martin, the Kel-Tec PF-9 pistol is familiar. It was displayed as evidence at the trial. A new one sells today for about $350. Enlisting it for sale at auction, Zimmerman made it clear he expected to receive much more than that for the gun. I am honored and humbled to announce the sale of an American firearm icon, he wrote in his listing.
The firearm for sale, Zimmerman wrote, is the firearm that was used to defend my life and end the brutal attack from Trayvon Martin. In an interview with Orlando TV station WOFL, Zimmerman said he was putting it up for sale so he could, in his words, move past the firearm.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: And if I sell it, and it sells, I move past it. Otherwise, it's going in a safe for my grandkids and never to be, you know, used or seen again.
ALLEN: But the sale, which was set to begin this morning at 11 a.m., didn't happen. The website GunBroker.com pulled Zimmerman's Kel-Tec pistol before the auction began. In a text to the Orlando Sentinel, Zimmerman said the website was not, quote, "prepared for the traffic and publicity surrounding the auction of my firearm."
He's now listed the gun for sale with another website, UnitedGunGroup.com. Benjamin Crump is an attorney who represents Trayvon Martin's parents. He spoke on a cell phone from a noisy airport.
BENJAMIN CRUMP: Trayvon's parents were outraged when they heard that he was trying to again profit off the loss of their child.
ALLEN: Profiting off the death of their child has been an issues the Martins have continued to fight. Crump says the family is focused on the work of the Trayvon Martin Foundation, which is trying to end gun violence. In his listing on the websites, Zimmerman angered his critics by declaring he'll use some of the proceeds of the sale to fight, in his words, black lives matter's violence against law enforcement officers and Hillary Clinton's anti-firearm rhetoric.
What's not clear is how much demand there is for a gun used in a notorious and controversial killing, one that has, in many circles, made Zimmerman, despite his acquittal, a pariah. Robert Livingston, is with RR Auction in Boston, a company that four years ago, sold two handguns once owned by outlaws Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow for a half million dollars.
ROBERT LIVINGSTON: There's a giant difference between someone like George Zimmerman and Bonnie and Clyde.
ALLEN: Livingston says over decades, Bonnie and Clyde became romanticized and became historical icons, making their guns desirable to collectors.
LIVINGSTON: But someone like George Zimmerman, there is no popular culture interest in Zimmerman. And, therefore, his gun is not something that we would offer or even consider offering.
ALLEN: As for those upset about the gun sale, Zimmerman told WOFL, quote, "I couldn't care less about them." Greg Allen, NPR News, Miami. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.