News & Politics

No, the Smithsonian Does Not Want the Gun That Killed Trayvon Martin

Photograph via iStock.
A gun similar to the one used by Zimmerman. Photograph by Jchance; via Wikimedia Commons.

George Zimmerman, the Florida resident who was acquitted of the 2012 killing of black teenager Trayvon Martin, attempted Thursday to auction off the pistol he used in the deadly encounter. In the now-deleted auction listing for the 9-millimeter firearm, Zimmerman writes that “Many have expressed interest in owning and displaying the firearm including the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC.”

The Smithsonian swiftly struck down Zimmerman’s suggestion in a two-sentence press release: “The Smithsonian has never expressed interest in collecting George Zimmerman’s firearm. The Smithsonian has no plans to ever collect or display this object in any of its museums.”

Zimmerman shot Martin on February 26, 2012 in Sanford, Florida, during an altercation that started when Zimmerman, a neighborhood-watch volunteer, confronted Martin, who was visiting family in the neighborhood. Zimmerman defended his shooting of Martin under Florida’s “stand your ground” law, which allows people to use force in self-defense instead of retreating in response to a perceived threat. A jury the following year cleared Zimmerman of second-degree murder and manslaughter, sparking a wave of protests around the country.

The auction page reads that Zimmerman, who has had other run-ins with the law since 2013, wants to use the proceeds from the sale to “fight [Black Lives Matter] violence against law enforcement officers” and “Hillary Clinton‘s anti-firearm rhetoric.” (The Democratic presidential candidate has made a strong gun-control push, and has been accompanied at campaign events by Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton.)

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.