It has been over four years since the murder of Trayvon Martin, yet it is a name that lives on in the hearts of most, a name that will not soon be forgotten. On 26 February 2012, one George Zimmerman fatally shot young Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old unarmed African-American whose only crime was to be in a gated community where he was living with relatives, a community ‘protected’ by a neighborhood ‘watchman’ named George Zimmerman. Zimmerman claimed it was an act of self-defense, though evidence failed to support the claim. Nonetheless, Zimmerman was found ‘not guilty’ and both his freedom and his gun were returned to him. Why, you ask, am I bringing this up now? Because today Mr. Zimmerman is back in the news in the most disgusting way possible.
George Zimmerman plans to auction the gun with which he murdered Trayvon Martin, claiming that it is a “piece of American history” and setting the initial bidding at $5,000. “Prospective bidders, I am honored and humbled to announce the sale of an American Firearm Icon. 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.” Zimmerman said proceeds from the sale would be used to help prevent violence against law enforcement by Black Lives Matter, to counter the anti-firearm rhetoric of presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton and to end the career of Angela Corey, who led the prosecution against him. Such noble goals, don’t you think?
Zimmerman claimed that in the past, many had sought to buy the gun from him, including the Smithsonian. However the Smithsonian released a statement to the contrary, 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.”
Certainly it is not unusual for guns used in infamous crimes to be sold or auctioned to either museums or private collectors. The gun that Jack Ruby used to kill Lee Harvey Oswald after the Kennedy assassination in 1963 sold for $220,000 in 1991. It was later put up for auction again, but the starting bid of $1 million was not met, so presumably it is still in the hands of the man who paid $220,000. Other ‘historical’ guns that have been sold include:
- Bonnie and Clyde’s guns – $504,000
- Buffalo Bill’s Remington revolver – $239,000
- Hemmingway’s Double Rifle – $340,000
- The Fuhrer’s Golden Gun – $114,000
- Wyatt Earp’s Colt .45-caliber Revolver – $225,000
- The .44-caliber Smith & Wesson that Killed Jesse James – $350,000
- Teddy Roosevelt’s Double-Barreled Shotgun – $862,500
- Simon Bolivar’s Flintlock Pistols – $1,687,500
- George Washington’s Saddle Pistols – $1,986,000
So, while selling a gun used in a murder may not be all that unusual, I find this particular one to be among the most inappropriate and downright disgusting acts imaginable. George Zimmerman murdered a young teen in cold blood, got away scot-free, and he is not satisfied to live out his life outside the limelight? He insists on continuing to re-open the wound for the family of young Trayvon Martin and the rest of us who have a social conscience? When questioned about his motives, he responded, “I’m a free American. I can do what I’d like with my possessions.” This is true, however it seems wrong to me that a person should be able to actually profit from the commission of such a heinous crime as Mr. Zimmerman committed.
Just as some people are born missing an arm, a leg, or a kidney, I believe that some are born missing the part of the brain we mostly refer to as a conscience. Apparently Mr. Zimmerman is one of those people. As for the gun? I firmly believe it should be destroyed. No, I am not saying that the gun itself is evil. The gun is just a tool made mostly of metal. But the controversies that may yet be fueled by the very existence of this tool may light a fire that this nation does not need … now or ever.
Update: I began writing this piece last night and finished it this morning. The auction was scheduled to begin at 11:00 a.m., but according to CNN, “mysteriously, when the auction was slated to begin, the weapon vanished from the website, replaced by a note that read, “Sorry, but the item you have requested is no longer in the system.” CNN attempts to reach the auction site were not immediately successful. Reached via phone, Zimmerman told CNN, “Thanks for the call. I’m not speaking to media right now,” and hung up.
I do not know what happened, but I do know that last night there was a huge outpouring of incredulity and anger at Zimmerman’s arrogance. In an interview on Wednesday, he claimed that he had received death threats since announcing that he would put the gun up for auction. So, my best guess is that some of the threats proved credible, as I do not believe the opinion of society matters one whit to Mr. Zimmerman, and I am certain that he didn’t suddenly have a change of heart and realize the inappropriateness of his actions. We may never know.