Apparently unsatisfied with becoming the source of many Americans' fury four years ago when he killed unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman is once again making headlines for trying to auction off the gun he used to kill Martin.
Zimmerman gave the details on his auction page, which was taken down by GunBroker.com then placed on UnitedGunGroup.com: "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. … Many have expressed interest in owning and displaying the firearm including The Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C. This is a piece of American History."
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
He added that the proceeds would be used to "fight [Black Lives Matter] violence against Law Enforcement officers, ensure the demise of Angela Corey's persecution career and Hillary Clinton's anti-firearm rhetoric." (There's no evidence the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement led to an increase in violence against police — and on-duty police deaths are in fact near record lows.)
This is not the first time he has made headlines for controversy since the Martin shooting. Last year, he drew attention when, according to the Washington Post, "he teamed up with Florida Gun Supply — a gun store that had publicly declared itself a 'Muslim-free zone' — to sell prints of a painting by Zimmerman depicting a Confederate battle flag."
But Zimmerman has also drawn a lot of attention from law enforcement, the group he apparently wants to protect from Black Lives Matter, thanks to run-ins with police over the past several years.
Zimmerman's become no stranger to the law
Zimmerman has not faded from public view since his trial. He has had no fewer than seven other run-ins with the law since he killed Martin, none of which have resulted in a conviction.
The string of encounters reveals a more complex view of Zimmerman than we got during a trial that seemed to focus much more on Martin's behavior than his:
- In July 2013, police in Forney, Texas, pulled over Zimmerman for speeding. Zimmerman told the officer he had a legal firearm in the glove compartment, and the cop let Zimmerman go with a warning.
- In August 2013, a Florida Highway Patrol trooper pulled over Zimmerman and warned him that his windows were too darkly tinted and his tag covers were illegal.
- In September 2013, police in Lake Mary, Florida, stopped Zimmerman for driving 60 miles-per-hour in a 45 miles-per-hour zone. This time, Zimmerman received a $256 ticket.
- In September 2013, Shellie, Zimmerman's estranged wife, called police during an argument with him. She said Zimmerman had smashed an iPad, threatened her with a gun, and attacked her father. She later recanted parts of her story, and no charges were filed.
- In November 2013, police in Seminole County, Florida, arrested Zimmerman after his then-girlfriend accused him of pointing a shotgun at her, smashing a coffee table, and locking her outside. She eventually recanted and told police she didn't want Zimmerman charged with aggravated assault, battery, and criminal mischief.
- In September 2014, Zimmerman allegedly threatened to kill Matthew Apperson in a road rage incident, and later reportedly showed up at Apperson's workplace, prompting a 911 call. No charges were filed for the incidents. In May 2015, this escalated further when Apperson tried to shoot Zimmerman, although Apperson says he only did it after Zimmerman pointed a gun at him.
- In January 2015, police in Lake Mary arrested Zimmerman for alleged aggravated assault after another ex-girlfriend said he threw a wine bottle at her. The charges were later dropped after his ex stopped cooperating.
Some people who feel Zimmerman should have been convicted for Martin's death might look upon these these legal scrapes with satisfaction, as proof of his capacity to commit a terrible crime. But no number of arrests will correct what Martin's mother and so many others see as a devastating miscarriage of justice. "He took a life, carelessly and recklessly," Martin's mom, Sybrina Fulton, told the Associated Press in 2015, "and he shouldn't deserve to have his entire life walking around on the street free."