Continued from page 1

He added, “I don’t think they’ll stop here. After two years of this, why would they?”

Mr. Witaschek feels he has been wrongly convicted. His attorney, Howard X. McEachern, filed a motion for a new trial on Friday. Mr. McEachern will also appeal the ruling both on the technicality of the charge and his client’s Second Amendment rights.

The basis for a new trial is that muzzleloader bullets are not “ammunition” under the law.

In the court filing, Mr. McEachern points out that muzzleloader firearms are antique replicas and exempt from the registration laws. They are never used in crimes because they can only fire one shot at a time, and it takes a long time to reload.

The lawyer explained that the Knight-brand bullets did not contain the gunpowder or primer present in cartridges used in modern firearms.

At one point during the trial, Judge Morin seemed to be using common sense. He said to the prosecutors, “It would seem somewhat counterintuitive that a replica of a muzzleloader itself would be legal in the District of Columbia, but the ammunition used for those weapons would be illegal.”

Yet when it came to a verdict, the judge made his decision based on the bizarre notion that there could possibly be another use for a piece of cone-shaped copper.

This came from the prosecutors’ insistence that there are muzzleloader firearms that could be converted to semi-automatic, which Mr. Witaschek could, in theory, secretly own. He does not.

But even if he did, the government never explained how a piece of metal with no primer or gunpowder would be propelled from a modern rifle.

The judge finally just said, “I’m persuaded that they are bullets. And they look like bullets. They are hollow-point bullets … . They’re not musket balls.”

A new trial could bring back the issue of the single, misfired shotgun shell. Most of the first trial was a debate over the operability of the shell.

Judge Morin clearly did not understand that primer being struck is what would make the shell most likely inoperable. He held up the green shell from evidence, shook it and told the court: “I can’t hear any powder.”

When the government asserted that it would be “dangerous” to open the shell any place other than a “lab,” the judge said he could not determine if it was classified as ammunition.

No matter, operability is irrelevant because shotgun shells and empty casings can only be possessed in the District by residents with registered guns.

Mr. Witaschek’s trials and tribulations have gotten national attention as an example of how government can become tyrannical and destroy a law-abiding person.

Story Continues →