The shocking, disturbing behavior of the cops, prosecutors, and judge in this case give all the reason needed for a . . . well for something to happen in this country of ours. The Washington Times’ Emily Miller has covered the story well, so for those of you who haven’t followed along, based upon what was later determined to be a meritless charge by his ex-wife, 30 (yes, 30) police officers executed a search warrant at his DC home. here’s some history:
After entering the house, the police immediately went upstairs, pointed guns at the heads of Mr. Witaschek and his girlfriend, Bonnie Harris, and demanded they surrender, facedown and be handcuffed.
[ . . . ]
His 16-year-old son was in the shower when the police arrived. â€śThey used a battering ram to bash down the bathroom door and pull him out of the shower, naked,â€ť said his father. â€śThe police put all the children together in a room, while we were handcuffed upstairs. I could hear them crying, not knowing what was happening.â€ť
[ . . . ]
The police shut down the streets for blocks and spent more than two hours going over every inch of his house. â€śThey tossed the place,â€ť said Mr. Witaschek. He provided photos that he took of his home after the raid to document the damage, which he estimated at $10,000.
The police found no guns in the house, but did write on the warrant that four items were discovered: â€śOne live round of 12-gauge shotgun ammunition,â€ť which was an inoperable shell that misfired during a hunt years earlier. Mr. Witaschek had kept it as a souvenir. â€śOne handgun holsterâ€ť was found, which is perfectly legal.
â€śOne expended round of .270 caliber ammunition,â€ť which was a spent brass casing. The police uncovered â€śone box of Knight bullets for reloading.â€ť These are actually not for reloading, but are used in antique-replica, single-shot, muzzle-loading rifles.
Fast-forward to yesterday. Witaschek was convicted:
In a surprising twist at the end of a long trial, a District of Columbia judge found Mark Witaschek guilty of â€śattempted possession of unlawful ammunitionâ€ť for antique replica muzzleloader bullets.
Judge Robert Morin sentenced Mr. Witaschek to time served, a $50 fine and required him to enroll with the Metropolitan Police Departmentâ€™s firearm offendersâ€™ registry within 48 hours.
While it’s true that the judge did not “throw the book” at Witaschek, he should have thrown the book into the trash and dismissed the charges:
The 25 conical-shaped, .45 caliber bullets, made by Knight out of lead and copper, sat on the judgeâ€™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, â€śIâ€™m persuaded these are bullets. They look like bullets. They are hollow point. They are not musket balls.â€ť He then ruled that Mr. Witaschek had possessed â€śbeyond a reasonable doubtâ€ť the copper-and-lead, conical-shaped pieces in D.C.
The judge, however, still seemed to think this was a strange issue for a court. â€śItâ€™s taken four lawyers all afternoon to get through an interpretation of whether or not these are lawful,â€ť he noted.
Right then and there, he should have dismissed the case. If for lawyers need a day to figure out what is legal and what isn’t, how is the average citizen supposed to interpret the thousands of gun laws on the books?
Read the full articles at the links for a lot more about the injustice done to Mark Witaschek. His lawyer says they will appeal. Let’s hope so, and that a higher court uses more common sense. BTW, I wonder what the cost to taxpayers was for this entire travesty?
Oh, and here’s the hypocrisy of the prosecutor’s office:
The D.C. attorney general on Friday declined to charge the host of NBCâ€™s â€śMeet the Pressâ€ť for displaying an empty ammunition magazine on national television, saying that doing so would not make the District safer.
[ . . . ]
In a letter to NBC, Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan admonished Gregory for knowingly flouting the law, but Nathan said he decided to exercise â€śprosecutorial discretionâ€ť and not pursue a criminal case. â€śProsecution would not promote public safety in the District of Columbia, nor serve the best interests of the people,â€ť Nathan wrote.
But the prosecution of Witaschek did?
We’re coming to a tipping point in this nation — one that could easily set off a rebellion of some sort. I’ll say nothing more than that.