The gun used to kill unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin in a 2012 case thattriggered protests across the United States was put up for auction on Thursday.
Former neighbourhood watchman George Zimmerman, who shot dead the 17-year-old, listed the weapon on the United Gun Group’s website — hours after it was removed from a previous site which said it wanted nothing to do with the sale.
Zimmerman advertised the weapon as “the firearm that was used to defend my life and end the brutal attack from Trayvon Martin” and called the sale “your opportunity to own a piece of American history.”
The Kel-Tec PF-9, a 9mm pistol, had a starting price of $5,000. Two hours after it was posted online, there were no bids, though it had been “liked” by two users. At times, the website appeared to be down.
Zimmerman had previously listed the gun on GunBroker.com, but it was swiftly removed by the auctioneers.
“Mr Zimmerman never contacted anyone at GunBroker.com prior to or after the listing was created and no one at GunBroker.com has any relationship with Zimmerman,” the website said in a statement.
“Our site rules state that we reserve the right to reject listings at our sole discretion, and have done so with the Zimmerman listing,” it added. “We want no part in the listing on our website or in any of the publicity it is receiving.”
Zimmerman had told the Orlando Sentinel that the first auction website was not “prepared for the traffic and publicity surrounding the auction of my firearm.”
Martin’s killing was the first in a series of high-profile deaths of young black men in recent years, which have sparked a national debate on race in America.
A neighborhood watch volunteer in a gated community in Sanford, Florida, Zimmerman fatally shot the high school student as he was walking home with iced tea and candy in February 2012.
Zimmerman insisted he had been following Martin on suspicion the youth was involved in robbery, and that he shot him in an act of self-defense.
He was acquitted of second-degree murder the following year, setting off protests nationwide over Florida’s “stand your ground” gun laws.
‘Fight Black Lives Matter’
The weapon’s description on United Gun Group, which bills itself as a “social marketplace for the firearms community,” was accompanied by photographs of the gun taken when it was displayed as evidence in court.
“Offers to purchase the firearm have been received; however, the offers were to use the gun in a fashion I did not feel comfortable with,” Zimmerman wrote in a description accompanying the listing.
“Many have expressed an interest in owning and displaying the firearm, including the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC,” he said.
The Smithsonian denied his claim, tweeting: “We have never expressed interest in collecting George Zimmerman’s firearm, and have no plans to ever collect or display it in any museums.”
Zimmerman said a portion of the proceeds of the sale would be used to “fight BLM (Black Lives Matter) violence against law enforcement officers,” referring to the activist movement against police brutality against African Americans.
He also said it would be used to “ensure the demise of Angela Correy,” who prosecuted him, and Democratic presidential contender “Hillary Clinton’s anti-firearm rhetoric.”
“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,” he added, highlighting President Barack Obama’s middle name as foes of the US leader have often done to question his origins and legitimacy.
The 32-year-old Zimmerman has made headlines repeatedly since his acquittal over Martin’s death, notably for selling paintings of the Confederate Flag — which is viewed by many as a racist symbol — in partnership with a Florida gun store.
He has also had several subsequent run-ins with the law.
Last year, he was accused of assault by his girlfriend, although she later withdrew the complaint.
In September 2014, he allegedly threatened a man during a road rage incident on a Florida highway, but police released him because the man did not want to press charges.
In 2013, his estranged wife Shellie Zimmerman called police to say he had threatened her with a gun, but she too failed to press charges.