COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTVN) -- A local gun-rights group has sent a check to George Zimmerman to help him replace the gun taken during the Trayvon Martin murder trial.
The gun remains in the possession of the Sanford Police Department, according to the Buckeye Firearms Foundation's president Jim Irvine.
"Zimmerman really needs his stuff back and here we've got the Department of Justice refusing to allow his property to be returned to him," Irvine said. "That can be damaging to somebody, especially somebody who's been in a lethal force situation."
Irvine says Zimmerman should have his gun returned since being found not guilty of any crimes connected to the shooting death of Martin.
On Friday the group put a request on their website to raise funds to replace Zimmerman's firearm. Irvine says they expected to raise $1,000. They ended up with more than $12,000.
"We were overwhelmed with the response we got. We never expected anything close to this," he said.
Donations came in from 48 states and several foreign countries. The group sent a cashier's check to Zimmerman's attorney, Mark O'Mara. Irvine says what Zimmerman does with the money is up to him.
"Zimmerman is the one who's best in charge to be able say 'this is what I need' whether it's a gun, whether it's a gun, a security system, or a bullet-proof vest," Irvine said.
Critics say the move seems racist and like nothing more than a publicity stunt. Irvine claims it is neither.
"I'll help anybody in this situation get their gun back. It's not about race for us," he said.
This isn't the first time Buckeye Firearms Foundation has helped someone after authorities refused to return a firearm. In 2007, Cleveland resident Damon Wells fired three shots at two teens who pulled a gun on him. One of the teens was killed. The shooting was determined to be self-defense.