A businessman and avid antique gun collector received some bad news this week when a Washington, D.C., judge found him guilty of “attempted possession of unlawful ammunition" — or more precisely, antique replica muzzleloader bullets.
Mark Witaschek was sentenced Wednesday to time served, a $50 fine and enrollment within 48 hours in the Metropolitan Police Department’s firearm offenders’ registry, the Washington Times reported.
You may recall the 2012 police raid on Witaschek's residence, during which cops in tactical gear shut down the streets for blocks around his Georgetown home, broke down a bathroom door with a battering ram and pulled his 16-year-old son out of the shower naked, pointed guns at the heads of Witaschek and his girlfriend, handcuffed them and then “tossed the place” for two hours.
One of the fruits of that raid included the antique replica muzzleloader bullets, of which Judge Robert Morin seemed skeptical in regard to their lethal capabilities.
More from the Times:
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.
Particularly in the spotlight are D.C.'s strict gun laws, as critics have pointed out that no action was taken against NBC News' David Gregory when he famously took out a high-capacity ammunition clip on "Meet the Press."
Before sentencing, Witaschek spoke directly to the judge, asking for leniency in a voice that cracked with emotion: “I’ve never been arrested in my life up until this incident. My use of firearms is strictly recreational. I’ve never had any criminal intent.”
Witaschek added: “I run the risk of losing my job, my occupation, as a result of this conviction. I ask the court not to add to that burden of what’s already been done to my life over the last two years.”
Outside the courtroom, Washington Times columnist Emily Miller asked Witaschek how he felt about the verdict. “I’m completely outraged by it,” he replied. “This is just a continuation of the nightmare. Just to sit there. I could not believe it.”
Shaking his head, Witaschek added that “none of these people know anything about gun issues, including the judge.”
Witaschek's wife Bonnie Witaschek was crying.
“It’s just so scary,” she told the Times. “You never think you’ll end up in a situation like this, but here we are.”
Witaschek’s attorney said plans to appeal the ruling.
Here's Miller in a radio interview with NRA News from last month regarding the progress of the trial:
Witaschek joined TheBlaze Radio's Buck Sexton for an in-depth interview diving into the details of the case and also saying that prosecutors spread false information about him to his neighbors. Listen to the interview in our follow-up story.