Man Arrested For Having Shotgun Shell In Home!

March 4, 2014

Shotgun

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Never mind the gun (Remington 870) — even empty shotshells are illegal to possess in D.C. without a registered firearm for each chambering.

There’s a case going on in Washington, D.C., that Texas Law Shield wants to bring to its Members’ attention for a couple of reasons.

The first reason is to note the obvious — gun accessibility is a political issue that cannot be ignored. Our Members and other citizens have to advocate for reasonable gun laws where they live.

The second is, divorce proceedings are almost always messy, but guns can make a civil matter criminal if you don’t pay attention.

Emily Miller, senior editor of opinion for The Washington Times and author of Emily Gets Her Gun, wrote this week about the trials and tribulations of Mark Witaschek, whom the District of Columbia is prosecuting for possessing a single shotgun shell and muzzleloader sabots in his D.C. home.

D.C. law requires residents to register every firearm with the police, and only registered gun owners can possess ammunition — which includes spent shells and casings. The maximum penalty for violating these laws is a $1,000 fine and a year in jail, Miller writes.

When Attorney General Irvin Nathan’s prosecutors rested on Tuesday, Miller reported, they established simply that Mr. Witaschek did not have a registered gun in the city, so he violated the firearms laws by having ammunition.

In essence, Witaschek is facing charges for possessing a misfired shotgun shell (it had already been struck by a firing pin) he kept on his home office desk and for keeping muzzleloader bullets.

When the trial resumes in late March, the defense will put on its expert to refute that muzzleloader bullets can be considered ammunition under the law.

Unfortunately, even if the judge rules that it is inoperable, an empty plastic shellshot is illegal in D.C. for anyone who is not a registered gun owner. The same goes for spent cartridge casings.

This illustrates how far the other side is willing to restrict gun freedoms, and why gun owners must oppose encroachments on the 2nd Amendment. We see Washington, D.C.’s laws as being patently unconstitutional, but the Supreme Court keeps avoiding further gun litigation, so who knows if D.C.’s laws will ever be overturned?

The second issue concerns divorce. Mr. Witaschek’s ex-wife, Gabriella Landinez, got a temporary protective order granted ex parte (without Mr. Witaschek answering the complaint), Miller writes. Unproven claims Ms. Landinez made against her former husband have factored into the government’s discretion to prosecute Mr. Witaschek, a government spokesman said.

Texas Law Shield has written extensively on how to defend your gun rights during a divorce or other family law litigation. Click here to see our archived newsletter.