Prank bids drive US killer’s gun auction to $65mn

May 14, 2016 10:58 am
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Zimmerman's trial and subsequent acquittal exposed deep racial fissures in US society/AFP
Zimmerman’s trial and subsequent acquittal exposed deep racial fissures in US society/AFP

, WASHINGTON, United States, May 14 – Bidding for the gun used by a Florida neighbourhood watchman to kill unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin hit $65 million Friday, as hoax buyers appeared to jack the controversial sale to astronomical levels.

Nationwide protests erupted over the 17-year-old’s shooting in 2012, in what the watchman George Zimmerman said was self-defence but which the teen’s family and friends claimed was a murder driven by racism.

Zimmerman’s trial and subsequent acquittal exposed deep racial fissures in US society.

Overview
  • Bids for the Kel-Tec PF-9, a 9mm pistol, began at $5,000 on Thursday - already far above the market value of a secondhand weapon - and had reached $65,039,000 by Friday morning on UnitedGunGroup.com, with more than four days left to go in the sale.
  • Some 1,019 bids had been made within less than 24 hours of the sale beginning on the United Gun Group auction site.
  • An attorney for Martin's family denounced the "insulting" sale.

Bids for the Kel-Tec PF-9, a 9mm pistol, began at $5,000 on Thursday – already far above the market value of a secondhand weapon – and had reached $65,039,000 by Friday morning on UnitedGunGroup.com, with more than four days left to go in the sale.

Some 1,019 bids had been made within less than 24 hours of the sale beginning on the United Gun Group auction site.

An attorney for Martin’s family denounced the “insulting” sale.

“Think about what that means: This is a gun that took a child’s life and now he wants to make money off of it,” Daryl Parks told The Washington Post.

US reports said a bidder using the screen name “Racist McShootface” made several offers of around $65 million overnight, though the account was later deleted.

The top bid belonged to a user identified as Craig Bryant.

It was difficult to verify the validity of the bids, with participants using pseudonyms and seemingly bidding against themselves. The website does not request down payments for bids.

Amid growing backlash over the sale, United Gun Group said it would press forward “unless the law has been violated,” and offered condolences to the Martin family.

One bidder went by the pseudonym Tamir Rice – the name of a 12-year-old African American boy shot dead by police while carrying a toy gun. That bidder’s highest offer was for $430,000.

Website users sparred in the comments section, with some denouncing bids that were clearly fake.

“This just goes to show people how stupid yall really are,” said a user who went by the pseudonym “Quit trolling it’s not worth it.”

User Brez Morrell, whose highest bid was listed as $485,000, said: “Obviously the jury didn’t think it was murder. He did nothing wrong.”

Zimmerman had previously listed the gun on GunBroker.com, but the auctioneers swiftly removed it, saying: “We want no part in the listing on our website or in any of the publicity it is receiving.”

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