Mark Witaschek holds his Knight Revolution .50 caliber muzzleloader. This is NOT a firearm under federal or District of Columbia laws.
Mark Witaschek holds his Knight Revolution .50 caliber muzzleloader. This is NOT a firearm under federal or District of Columbia laws.

A poorly-educated District of Columbia judge has found Mark Witaschek guilty of a gun crime because he possessed 25 pieces of metal that were modified cylinders, instead of balls.

Yes, it really was that stupid of a prosecution:

In a surprising twist at the end of a long trial, a District of Columbia judge found Mark Witaschek guilty of “attempted possession of unlawful ammunition” for antique replica muzzleloader bullets.

Judge Robert Morin sentenced Mr. Witaschek to time served, a $50 fine and required him to enroll with the Metropolitan Police Department’s firearm offenders’ registry within 48 hours.

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.