- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 21, 2013

Nathan Haddad, a former Army staff sergeant in New York, was selling his gun magazines when he was arrested for violating a state law prohibiting possession of magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. He was arrested and charged with five felonies. This is the crime that David Gregory of NBC News committed in Washington a few months ago; Mr. Gregory was not prosecuted because he’s, umm, well, a celebrity.

The district attorney for Jefferson County, N.Y., offered Sgt. Haddad, now a civilian employee at Fort Drum, N.Y., a deal that would require him to plead guilty to five Class A misdemeanors to avoid going to jail. Sgt. Haddad has several weeks to decide whether to go to trial.

“My first reaction was that I’m going to still be branded as a criminal and probably lose my job,” he told The Washington Times. “The military doesn’t consider a 30-round magazine a weapons system — it is just a component of a weapons system.”

Seth Buchman, Sgt. Haddad’s attorney, said the charges “should not have been brought in the first place.” Under the law, the same ammunition feeding device is legal if it was manufactured before 1994 but a felony if made afterward. The only way to tell the difference is by examining markings stamped on the bottom of some — but not all — magazines. After Sgt. Haddad was arrested, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed still another law, this one reducing the round count from 10 to 7.

Sgt. Haddad said he wasn’t aware he had done anything wrong since he has lived in New York as a civilian only since 2010 when he received a medical discharge from the military. Mr. Gregory, on the other hand, knew he was breaking the law on Dec. 23 when he displayed a 30-round magazine on his Sunday show. He had asked the Metropolitan Police Department for permission in advance, but was refused. D.C. prosecutors said there was no point pursuing charges against the host.

When asked, Sgt Haddad said he saw a double standard. “I’m upset,” he conceded. “The District of Columbia set a precedent this is not a dangerous thing. So one [jurisdiction] has a ban, but says it is not something that needs to be prosecuted, and another state does the opposite. What the heck?”

Since his arrest, Sgt. Haddad has sold all his property, including his AR-15 rifle, to pay his lawyer. His New York state permit to carry a gun was taken away, and the sheriff’s office confiscated his pistols. His brother, Michael Haddad, has started a legal-defense fund.

“It sickens me the way they are treating a combat veteran,” Michael Haddad says. “Our country sends him overseas to fight with a tank and a bazooka, then treats him like a terrorist on our own soil.”

Instead of making us safer, the gun-control laws in Washington and New York only hurt “lawbreakers” such as Sgt. Haddad. Such pointless laws should be repealed. If Mr. Gregory isn’t to be prosecuted, someone who has served his nation shouldn’t be, either. Fair ought to be fair.

Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.