Mark Witaschek, a Washington, DC, businessman with no criminal record, must now post his name on a firearms offender registry after a shocking court verdict.
As previously reported by Off The Grid News, Witaschek was the subject of a police raid after a disgruntled ex-wife claimed he had guns in the home and had threatened her. A judge dismissed the charges as baseless, noting Witaschek did not have any firearms in the home, but only a few keepsake and antique replica bullets. It was those bullets that became the focus of a trial.
Witaschek was charged with the “attempted possession of unlawful ammunition” relating to the replica muzzleloader bullets. Judge Robert Morin sentenced the sportsman to time served and issued a $50 fine for the “illegal ammo” but also mandated that he enroll with the Metropolitan Police Department’s gun offenders registry within 48 hours. Witaschek is appealing the verdict which has left Second Amendment supporters across the country in a state of both shock and anger.
Washington, DC, police had searched Witaschek’s home for gun paraphernalia such as empty holsters, ammo, empty magazines, ammo receipts, and even gun cleaning equipment. Witaschek’s whole neighborhood was locked down by the officers during the ordeal. The gun owner’s 14-year-old daughter opened the door and was met with more than two dozen officers in full tactical gear during the raid on the home.
The search of the home lasted for many hours, and came up entirely empty for guns of any type. But police did find, according to The Washington Times:
- One live round of 12-gauge shotgun ammunition — an inoperable shell that misfired during a hunt years earlier that Witaschek kept as a souvenir.
- One handgun holster — which is legal, even in Washington, DC.
- One expended round of .270 caliber ammunition — a spent brass casing.
- One box of Knight bullets for reloading, according to a police notation on the warrant. Except, The Times notes, they aren’t for reloading; they’re for antique-replica, single-shot, muzzle-loading rifles.
In Washington, DC, gun owners are required to register all firearms with the local police department and the law also states that only registered firearm owners can possess ammunition – even spent shell casings.
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“They used a battering ram to bash down the bathroom door and pulled [my son] out of the shower, naked,” Witaschek said after the raid. Officers also reportedly placed all of the children in the home in a room together while the adults were ushered upstairs and handcuffed. Witaschek distinctly recalled hearing them crying in the room below. Approximately $10,000 worth of damage resulted from the raid.
After the judge rendered his ruling over the illegal possession of ammunition, Witaschek told reporters:
I’m completely outraged by it. This is just a continuation of the nightmare. Just to sit there. I could not believe it. None of these people know anything about gun issues, including the gun. They label it gun offender registry to make it sound like a sex offender registry.
Witaschek’s attorney, Howard X. McEachern, told the media that they are not done fighting and plan to appeal the decision in the near future. When asked what he thought about the verdict issued, the defense attorney said, “Clearly the judge thought that this was overkill. The sentence reflects how he felt about the prosecution of the case.”
The hunter stores his guns at his sister’s home away from the city. Her home was searched as well.
When Witaschek surrendered himself for the firearms offender registry process the police officers who fingerprinted him and took his mugshot reportedly reminded him throughout the process that the “registry no longer applies to him” since he has moved to Virginia. He had to sign a form that should he move back to the city or begin to work in the city, he has to appear at the police department again and update his information and once again be subject to the dictates of the DC gun law.
What do you think? Should Witaschek have been convicted? Let us know in the comments below.