WASHINGTON: The Smithsonian Institution wasted no time Thursday in refuting George Zimmerman’s claim that the museum was interested in acquiring the firearm he used to kill Trayvon Martin.
In an advertisement on GunBroker.com, Zimmerman name-dropped the "Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C." in an effort to auction off "an American Firearm Icon [sic]," which he later referred to as "a piece of American History [sic]."
The firearm, scheduled to begin bidding at 11 a.m. EST on Thursday with a starting bid of $5,000, was later removed from sale. Zimmerman told the Orlando Sentinel that the gun was pulled from GunBroker.com due to a high volume of traffic that overwhelmed the website. At press time, The Daily Beast reported that the firearm is now on auction at UnitedGunGroup.com.
After being made aware of Zimmerman’s claim through a Washington Post article, the Smithsonian sent out a tweet and brief statement in response Thursday morning, John Gibbons, senior press secretary at the Smithsonian Institution, told PRWeek via email.
We have never expressed interest in collecting George Zimmerman’s firearm, and have no plans to ever collect or display it in any museums— Smithsonian (@smithsonian) May 12, 2016
"We knew there was going to be high interest and we wanted to correct it right away," said the Smithsonian Institution’s chief spokesperson Linda St. Thomas. "So we sent out the statement on Twitter at 9:30 a.m. to head it off as soon as possible."
On Thursday afternoon, GunBroker.com released a statement to the public which said, "We want no part in [Zimmerman’s] listing on our web site or in any of the publicity it is receiving."
Before being taken down, Zimmerman’s advertisement referenced a much publicized shooting incident involving him and another Florida resident. Then Zimmerman said he would use a portion of the proceeds to "fight BLM violence against Law Enforcement officers, ensure the demise of Angela Correy's persecution career and Hillary Clinton's anti-firearm rhetoric."
Twitter users sounded off on the museum’s succinct statement:
@smithsonian Thank you for clarifying this.— ürb (@urbanbohemian) May 12, 2016
In a controversial series of events in 2012, Zimmerman shot and killed Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old African-American. Zimmerman then claimed self-defense and was later acquitted.
The shooting sparked protests and a national conversation on "Stand Your Ground" laws and race relations. Since then, Zimmerman has been in and out of the national spotlight following a string of run-ins with the law, including domestic violence.