Remember this? When NBC's David Gregory brandished and waved around a 30-round magazine on Meet the Press during an interview with the NRA's Wayne LaPierre about gun control? The incident occurred inside the District of Columbia where magazines with a capacity of more than 10-rounds, and even fake magazines, are illegal. Not only did he violate D.C. gun laws, but according to D.C. police, he knowingly violated the law after being denied the use of the illegal magazine on the show. A review of the law:
No person in the District shall possess, sell, or transfer any large capacity ammunition feeding device regardless of whether the device is attached to a firearm. For the purposes of this subsection, the term large capacity ammunition feeding device means a magazine, belt, drum, feed strip, or similar device that has a capacity of, or that can be readily restored or converted to accept, more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
Regardless a well connected, pro-gun control Gregory escaped without charges for illegal possession of the magazine, which would land a regular person in jail for up to a year with a $1000 fine. After D.C. police completed their investigation into the incident, D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier turned the case over to the D.C. Office of the Attorney General [OAG], headed by Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan, to determine whether prosecution would be appropriate. The ruling from the OAG on Gregory's prosecution? No charges, no trial, no jail time and no fines.
Having carefully reviewed all of the facts and circumstances of this matter, as it does in every case involving firearms-related offenses or any other potential violation of D.C. law within our criminal jurisdiction, OAG has determined to exercise its prosecutorial discretion to decline to bring criminal charges against Mr. Gregory, who has no criminal record, or any other NBC employee based on the events associated with the December 23, 2012 broadcast.
Now the same Attorney General, Irvin B. Nathan, who failed to bring charges against Gregory, is doing everything he can to make the life of D.C. business and family man Mark Witaschek (who, like Gregory, doesn't have a criminal record) a living hell. Why? Cops in full SWAT gear raided Witaschek's Georgetown home on July 7, 2012 looking for "firearms and ammunition … gun cleaning equipment, holsters, bullet holders and ammunition receipts." Police found a single empty shotgun shell and muzzleloader sabots (lead balls), no guns. Witaschek is facing jail time as a result of those finds and prosecutors are arguing Witaschek was in illegal possession of "ammunition" even though neither the empty shotgun shell casing or the sabots can be fired without other components. Emily Miller explains:
The District of Columbia has finished presenting its case on why Mark Witaschek is a danger to society for possessing a single shotgun shell and muzzleloader sabots in his home. This outrageous legal battle shows how far unelected, anti-gun liberals will go to attempt to destroy a man’s life.
When Attorney General Irvin Nathan’s prosecutors rested on Tuesday, they established simply that Mr. Witaschek did not have a registered gun in the city, so he violated the firearms laws by having ammunition.
Mr. Witaschek has never denied these charges, but has said that he didn’t know that inoperable ammunition was illegal. He also insists that his constitutional rights have been violated.
“The police and attorney general obviously have infringed upon my Second Amendment right to keep arms, or ammunition, or even the muzzleloaders borne by our Founding Fathers,” the father of three told me. “And they trampled on almost every other amendment to the Bill of Rights not only for me, but my entire family.”
Right before the trial began, Mr. Nathan’s office dropped the charge from possession of unregistered ammunition to attempted possession.
It’s unclear how Mr. Witaschek could attempt to possess something that was in his home, but the facts aren’t the reason for the shift. The lesser charge carries a penalty of six months in jail, which means Mr. Witaschek was not eligible for the jury trial he wanted.
Judge Robert Morin has listened almost impassively as the government put police officers on the stand to explain how they raided the business man’s house twice looking for guns. Mr. Witaschek is a gun owner and hunter, but has always kept his firearms at his sister’s home in Virginia.
Miller pressed OAG spokesman Ted Gest about the clear double standard and difference in prosecution for Gregory and Witaschek. Gest told her, "Mr. Nathan and our prosecutors believe this is in the interest of public safety" while attempting to smear Witaschek with an allegation of domestic violence that has never been investigated or proven by police. “Accusations that are unproven in court factor into prosecution decisions," Gest told her.
Equal treatment under the law? Not in Washington D.C.
Witaschek's trial resumes in March when the defense will make its case.