D.C. Businessman Found Guilty of Possessing Inert Muzzleloader Bullets

There was a case we reported on a while back involving a D.C. businessman who was arrested and charged with possession of unregistered ammo.

Apparently, they think it wouldpromote public safety” to order 30 officers decked out in full tactical gear to the house of D.C. businessman Mark Witaschek, raid his house, use a battering ram to break down the door to the bathroom where his 16-year-old son was taking a shower, pull him out of the bathroom naked, hold the businessman and his girlfriend in their room at gunpoint after having handcuffed them, all while they tear his house apart to the tune of $10,000 in damages, looking for guns. And no, according to Emily Miller’s article in the Washington Times, they didn’t find any.

But guess what they did find? Police documented their findings:

  • “One live round of 12-gauge shotgun ammunition”
  • “One handgun holster”
  • “One expended round of .270 caliber ammunition”
  • “One box of Knight bullets for reloading”

Miller stated that the 12-gauge shotgun round was actually misfired years earlier on one of his hunting trips. He kept it as a souvenir. She also notes that the handgun holster is not illegal, even in D.C. And apparently, the Knight bullets are in fact not for reloading, but are used in “antique-replica, single-shot, muzzle-loading rifles.”

So, they didn’t find any guns. But they still charged him with possession of unregistered ammunition and a brass casing. He faced two years in jail and a hefty fine.

He was offered a deal where he could plead guilty to one charge of possession of unregistered ammo, pay a $500 dollar fine, make a contribution to a victim’s fund and spend a year on probation, but he turned it down. He told Miller, “It’s the principle.”

They’ll let Feinstein perform her little gun circus act on TV, and they’ll let Gregory do his high-capacity magazine bit, but when it comes to ordinary citizens, they get the Nazi treatment.

Witaschek’s case was brought before the judge, and after a rigamarole of technicalities, he found Witaschek guilty of “attempted possession of unlawful ammunition.” Here’s Emily Miller with the Washington Times:

Until the final hours of the trial, both the defense and government focused the case on whether the single 12 gauge shotgun shell that was found in Mr. Witaschek’s D.C. home was operable. The judge, however, never ruled on it.

In the afternoon on Wednesday, Judge Morin shook the plastic shell and tried to listen to something inside. He said he could not hear any gunpowder. He then asked the lawyers to open the shell to see if there was powder inside.

(This seemed like a bizarre request since the lack of primer — not gunpowder — would be relevant to the interoperability of the misfired shell.)

Assistant Attorney General Peter Saba said that the government wanted to open the shell but that, “It is dangerous to do outside a lab.”

The prosecutors and police officers left the courtroom to try to find a lab that was open in the afternoon to bring the judge to cut the plastic off the section that holds the pellets. When that proved not possible in the same day, the judge decided to just rule on the bullets.

The 25 conical-shaped, .45 caliber bullets, made by Knight out of lead and copper, sat on the judge’s desk. They do not have primer or gunpowder so cannot be propelled. The matching  .50 caliber plastic sabots were also in the box.

There was much debate over whether the bullets were legal since D.C. residents are allowed to buy antique replica firearms without registering.

The judge seemed inclined to throw out this charge since he repeatedly asked how the bullets could be illegal if the gun that they go in was not.

During lunch, the government came up with a list from ATF of types of muzzleloader rifles that could be converted to use rimfire ammunition. Not that Mr. Witaschek owned one of these nor was modern ammo at issue in the trial.

Nevertheless Judge Morin said, “I’m persuaded these are bullets. They look like bullets. They are hollow point. They are not musket balls.” He then ruled that Mr. Witaschek had possessed “beyond a reasonable doubt” the metal pieces in D.C.

The judge “sentenced him to time served, a $50 fine, and required him to enroll with the Metropolitan Police Department’s firearm offenders’ registry within 48 hours.”In addition to the judge’s sentencing, Mr. Witaschek could lose his license to run his financial management company, all because he had inert “bullets” in his home.

If they’re that adamant about enforcing these asinine laws on innocent people like Mr. Witaschek, why did they not care about Diane Feinstein’s “assault weapon” publicity stunt or David Gregory’s on-air “high-capacity” magazine stunt?