Nathan Haddad, a decorated combat veteran, was arrested earlier this month in New York for possessing unloaded 30-round magazines. Mr. Haddad, who has been recognized by the Army for his selfless acts of generosity to fellow soldiers, was charged with five felony counts of possession of “high-capacity” magazines.
Since 1994, magazines over 10 rounds have been illegal. This month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation that makes any ammunition feeding device over 7 rounds illicit in New York. (Click here to read New York’s Radical Gun-Control Law.)
Mr. Haddad, who was medically discharged in 2010 after 12 years of service, was arrested when he was stopped by police on Jan. 6 in LeRay, Ny. Through his brother Michael, Mr. Haddad declined to comment on the cause until after his Feb. 20 conference date to meet with the prosecutor and the judge.
“He’s not proclaiming innocence,” Michael Haddad told me in a phone interview. “He thought he had something that was legal and it turned out that they weren’t.” Michael said that his brother told him that, “‘I was arrested. I was charged with a crime. It is what it is.’”
The case has brought national interest because of the comparison to NBC’s David Gregory, who ran afoul of the same law in Washington, D.C. Unlike Mr. Haddad, Mr. Gregory asked permission from Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department in advance to possess the illegal 30-round magazine and was denied.
The anchor of “Meet the Press” went ahead anyway with it on national TV, but the attorney general for the District of Columbia refused to prosecute. (Click to read more about that decision: David Gregory Gets Off Scot Free.)
Michael, who is raising money for a legal defense, said that his brother’s goal is only to get the charges reduced so he can go on with his life. “No one wants to spend 35 years in prison, least of all a decorated, combat, disabled veteran who has done nothing but good for veterans his whole life,” Michael said.
According to Jefferson County Sheriff’s office sources, Mr. Haddad was in the parking lot of a closed business at 7:30 p.m. when an officer asked him what he was doing. The police allege that the Fort Drum civilian employee said that he was meeting someone to sell the AR-15 style rifle magazines. A police source also said that the magazines were stamped with the words “Restricted. For military use only.”
For the possession of the magazines, Mr. Haddad was arrested, booked in county jail and charged with five counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree, according to the arrest report. Mr. Haddad did not have his AR-15 rifle in the car, but it is unclear whether he had another firearm. Police say that he was in possession of a New York State carry permit. He was not charged with any other offenses.
These charges are considered “violent class D violent felony offenses” under New York state law and carry a punishment that ranges widely from conditional discharge to seven years in state prison. (The five charges would be served concurrently.)
Kristyna S. Mills, the chief assistant district attorney for Jefferson County, is prosecuting the case. “It’s against the law to possess these types of devices,” she told me in an interview Friday. “He was arrested in accordance with possession of these devices, and it’s our job to prosecute those cases that run amok of the law.”
Emily Miller is senior editor of the opinion pages for The Washington Times. Her “Emily Gets Her Gun” series on the District’s gun laws won the 2012 Clark Mollenhoff Award for Investigative Reporting from the Institute on Political Journalism. Click here to follow her on Twitter and Facebook.