If you think that carrying empty shells or casings is harmless, think again. Strangely enough, owning empty casings and shells is a crime as serious as having an illegal firearm.
It is also, apparently, a law that applies only to average citizens, and not to public figures.
As noted by the Washington Times, one year ago, NBC News anchor David Gregory was found to be in possession of a prohibited 30-round magazine during an anti-gun tirade on live TV. Although the broadcast was filmed within district limits, District of Columbia Attorney General Irvin Nathan dropped all charges on the grounds that arresting Gregory “would not promote public safety.”
Now, Nathan is refusing to drop the same charges against Mark Witaschek, a financial adviser with no criminal history and, unlike Gregory, no highly public profile. What he does have, however, is an angry ex-wife and a gun collection – he is a hunter – at his sister’s house in Virginia.
The case began in 2012 when police, acting on his ex-wife’s word, raided Witaschek’s house twice in one summer. Although they found no weapons, they handcuffed Witaschek and his girlfriend, put his terrified children in a separate room, and proceeded to search his entire house.
Their warrantless search produced only ammunition. Witaschek estimates that the damage done to the house during the search comes out to about $10,000.
Two pre-trial hearings have been held, after which the only piece of evidence that might still stand up in court is a misfired shotgun shell that Witaschek had kept as a souvenir from a hunting trip. The shell, having failed to have been propelled properly the first time it was used, cannot be fired again.
If he is found guilty for possessing this single, inoperable shell, he will face a year in jail and $1,000 in fines.
“Since the night my home was invaded and family terrorized by a militarized D.C. police force, I am more afraid of what government is doing than I am of any of the people I encountered when I spent the night in jail,” Witaschek has said.
The jury trial will start of February 11. After the first of pre-trial hearing, Judge Robert Morin ruled that the warrantless search was disallowed; a box of rifle ammunition was removed from the charges.
After this hearing, the two assistant attorneys general for the District offered Witaschek probation if he pleaded guilty. Witaschek declined.
In the second hearing, prosecutors turned their attention to the items gathered from the second raid: a misfired shotgun shell, and a box of sabots (plastic bullet covers). Because there is no propellant on the sabot, it is unclear whether it can be categorized as ammunition, and thus, only registered gun owners can possess them.
The prosecution soon offered Witaschek a second deal in which, in return for pleading guilty to the lesser charge of “attempted possession of ammunition”, Witaschek would still be facing up to six months in jail. Again, Witaschek declined.
Witaschek has spoken out about the warrantless raid and the prosecution’s attempts to cover it up, saying, “I believe that some in the prosecution and police apparatus know what they did and are trying to continue this charade to cover their tracks.”
“If I am proven a ‘criminal,’ then their bad acts are covered. If not, they are liable,” he continued.
Without a weapon – and no weapon was discovered in his house – none of the ammunition could be used. Witaschek’s case is the first known case of a citizen being prosecuted in D.C. for inoperable ammunition.
Sources: Washington Times, policestateusa.com
Photo Source: Washington Times