Watertown man’s arrest fuels questions about gun control

Nathan Haddad in an undated photograph from the Fort Drum Mountaineer

At the meeting between gun owners and state police yesterday in Lake Placid, one of the people in the crowd demanded more information about the case of a man arrested in Jefferson County for allegedly carrying high-capacity 30-round magazines in the trunk of his car.

I hadn’t heard of the case in the Watertown area, so I googled it.

According to the Watertown Daily Times, Nathan Haddad, a 32-year-old veteran and former Fort Drum soldier, was allegedly found with five 30-round clips for an AR-15 assault rifle.

New York state currently has a ban on magazines that carry more than 10 rounds of ammunition, and the new gun control law approved earlier this month gradually reduces the size of an allowed clip to 7 rounds.

The newspaper reports that Haddad faces five felony counts for violating state law.

I also found that Haddad’s case has sort of gone viral in a minor way in the gun rights community.

The story was linked to on the “Legal Insurrection” website, where the arrest was described as an example of the way new gun laws are “applied to the little people.”

On the Survivalist boards site, one commenter called Haddad’s arrest “a load of crap” and argued that “New York is seriously moving in the wrong direction, and so damned quickly.”

At the NYfirearms website, a commenter questions whether Haddad’s clips were empty or full when he was arrested.

Haddad served multiple tours overseas before being injured while training at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in 2005.  Another gun-advocate website described his arrest as pitting a “military wounded veteran vs the Commies of Albany.”

One reason this case seems to resonate — if I read the mood accurately at yesterday’s meeting in Lake Placid — is that a significant number of gun owners may not comply with these new, tighter restrictions.

A number of gun-owners said point-blank that they wouldn’t register their assault rifles, or modify their high capacity magazines.  Others demanded to know if police would make efforts to find and confiscate newly illegal weapons or clips.

So what do you think?

Are arrests like Haddad’s likely to be more common in the future, as more gun owners in New York possess hardware banned under the tighter restrictions approved this month?

Do you see those who hold onto banned weapons as criminals, or as people committing acts of civil disobedience?



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56 Comments on “Watertown man’s arrest fuels questions about gun control”

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  1. jeff says:

    The article makes no case for why his vehicle was stopped. No information as to the age of the magazines, if they were pre-ban and therefore permissible. There was a comment following the article claiming he does not drink.

  2. Michael Greer says:

    We need a bit more on this story. Why was he stopped, and how did the police get to look in the trunk of his car? Also, where was he going with all that ammo. Surely he’s heard the news, so was this some blatant act of defiance or cluelessness?

  3. M Sedlacek says:

    It is very common knowledge within the Armed Forces community, the cartridges we are providing our warrior heroes are garbage. They are substandard quality and jamb consistantly. The result is our heroes and their families have been stepping up and supplying the appropriate equipment to do the job.

  4. If Clapton is God, Warren Haynes is Jesus says:

    Substandard rounds but we can waste money left and right at DOD on everything else imaginable? Yet another glaring example of how incredibly inefficient and wasteful the biggest branch of gov’t is. How can such ineptitude continue year in year out? Let me guess, the manufacturer of these substandard rounds has political connections or some no bid contract deal?

  5. LJR says:

    To answer Brian’s question: Civil Disobedience is defined as the refusal to comply with specific laws, as a peaceful form of political protest against unjust laws. Keeping illegal guns is definitely not civil disobedience. For one thing, it is not peaceful: it is an act of aggression. Second, it is not a protest against unjust laws. There is nothing unjust about trying to inhibit people’s “freedom” to threaten and intimidate. Third, those who engage in civil disobedience do so openly and they willingly accept the legal consequences of their disobedience of the laws as a way to bring awareness and sympathy to their cause. For more information, read Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience,” and King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”

  6. Newt says:

    This whole gun thing reminds of the ironic saying, “Drugs make people crazy.” Meaning just many people who use them, but also anyone involved in dealing with them, especially the general public, some law enforcement officials and prosecutors, and, especially, legislators who pass laws and pursue policies intended to make things better that in fact, make things worse (see the Rockefeller Drug law posts now showing next door).

    In this case, many normally sane and harmless- to-other-citizens, gun owners seem to have been driven mad by threats of limiting their ownership of their guns. Likewise, the hastily-passed NY gun laws, clearly more of an emotional reaction to Newtown than the outgrowth of the normal, considered, and researched legislative process, also seem more like a scream of “WE GOTTA DO SOMETHING NOW!” and a classic case of liberal knee-jerkism.

    I’m not sure if things will get better as a result. I keep thinking about the high school student in Malone, I believe. Shortly after the Columbine massacre, he made the mistake of telling one of his teachers that he had forgotten to remove his hunting rifle from his car trunk in the school parking lot that morning after hunting. He was then treated to a ride to the local lockup in handcuffs and charges and as a would-be school shooter as a reward for his honesty.
    Guns are really making people crazy, again.

  7. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Yeah, why was he stopped? White guy, short hair, uniform – why would police stop a guy like that?

    Now if he was a young black guy driving a nice car…well, you know.

  8. Jim Bullard says:

    I admit to not being an authority but I don’t recall that 30 round clips manufactured prior to the NYS ban of them being “grandfathered”.

  9. Rancid Crabtree says:

    First off, this was before the new law was passed! So the old laws should have applied and IIRC only certain 30 round mags were covered under the old law. Second, from what I understand these were only mags, not loaded mags. Either way, what proof is there the mags were manufactured after the start date (sometime in 1994 IIRC) and not grandfathered? Of course the question on why he was stopped, etc. should be asked. This is very poor reporting IMO.

  10. Rancid Crabtree says:

    Jim, if you’ll look up NYS Penal Law Article 265 you’ll find the grandfathered stuff explained. Here, I’ll provide you with the definition because most links go directly to the new law which isn’t in effect yet.

    23. “Large capacity ammunition feeding device” means a magazine, belt,
    drum, feed strip, or similar device, manufactured after September
    thirteenth, nineteen hundred ninety-four, that has a capacity of, or
    that can be readily restored or converted to accept, more than ten
    rounds of ammunition; provided, however, that such term does not include
    an attached tubular device designed to accept, and capable of operating
    only with, .22 caliber rimfire ammunition.”

  11. Peter Hahn says:

    When I lived in Syracuse, one of the children who was killed by stray bullets was killed when some Fort Drum soldiers came down to buy drugs, panicked (I guess thats what they did) and started firing randomly and left.

  12. Brian Mann says:

    Obviously there are a lot of facts still to be uncovered in this story. I shared what I have so far. According to WDT, Haddad was arrested following a traffic stop.

    My understanding is that current state law limits magazines to 10 rounds (this will soon be reduced to 7) unless the magazine was manufactured before 1994.

    (Even those earlier pre-1994 magazines will have to be modified, turned in or sold out of state, once the new restrictions phase in.)

    We haven’t heard Haddad’s defense, so I can’t say when his ammunition clips were manufactured, though I would guess that prosecutors checked their vintage before filing charges.

    It’s important to note, however, that all charges against him are allegations. He is innocent until proved guilty.

    We’ll keep an eye on this as it moves forward.

    –Brian, NCPR

  13. Paul says:

    “Are arrests like Haddad’s likely to be more common in the future, as more gun owners in New York possess hardware banned under the tighter restrictions approved this month?”

    I would imagine so. It appears that many people (including probably some in law enforcement) are confused about how these laws even work.

    You can have a 10 shot clip but can only load in 7 rounds, you have to do this or that or sell it out of state! These are very strange laws.

    I heard this morning that one group has filed papers giving them 90 days to file suit against the state suing on the grounds that these laws violate the constitution. Now it will start getting very expensive. This is just the start. The lawyers are ringing their hands.

  14. Mervel says:

    But just looking at the type of case not getting into this specific case is important.

    What a horrible waste of time and effort and money. This will be the new drug war, basically harassing rural people and hunters because they didn’t register their box of shotgun shells.

    Under the new law if I buy my shells in New Hampshire or Vermont would I have to register my shotgun shells in NY?

    This will do nothing to stop gun crime and mass murders, it will provide a whole new regulatory agency with something to do however and sweep a whole new group of citizens largely hunters, into the government’s data base of dangerous people.

  15. Paul says:

    Also, 5 felony counts? These are felony offenses? Some day maybe we will be having a discussion on the “Cuomo Gun Laws” like we are having on the “Rockefeller Drug Laws”.

  16. Mervel says:

    This whole effort has quickly moved from really looking at what can stop gun violence, of which gun control is certainly a part, to lets stick it to these gun people and hunters because we don’t like them.

  17. Rancid Crabtree says:

    Brian, prosecutors normally only review cases and file charges before an arrest in Grand Jury cases. What you have here is summary arrest on the side of the road. I wouldn’t put too much faith in the average police officers ability to determine the age of a mag unless it’s clearly date stamped. If that’s the case, fine, but his guilt should depend on his criminal culpability in the matter. Other posters have made the allegation he willfully ignored the law, in fact you state something to that effect. Guilty before trial?

    I once had a young police officer tell me Winchesters Black Talon ammunition was illegal. He was absolutely convinced of it. I showed him he was 100% wrong and he later verified it with his superiors. Police officers are just humans doing a tough job and they make assumptions and mistakes just like other people. I’d like to see the proof of the date of production and that this young man was culpable in his knowledge and actions before judging him.

  18. Mervel says:

    Its true Paul. Maybe this is the state response to keep law enforcement and our prisons busy since the drug laws were repealed. It certainly has nothing to do with reducing gun violence.

  19. Paul says:

    How can you be released without bail on 5 felony counts of criminal possession of a weapon? Doesn’t sound like the judge is taking this too seriously.

  20. michael coffey says:

    It appears that Nathan Haddad’s brother, Michael, is trying to raise a legal defense fund. Also, the brother says the magazines were empty and that Nathan thought they were pre-ban when he bought them.

  21. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    I just love uninformed speculation, keep it up folks!

  22. The Original Larry says:

    No bail might be the judge’s response to bogus charges. One thing is for sure: we don’t know all the facts of this case, and until we do, speculation can contribute to the mis-information.

  23. Will Doolittle says:

    OK, KHL, with your encouragement, here’s my speculation: The officers stopped the man for a traffic infraction, expecting nothing more than the chance to write a ticket, then saw his name was “Haddad” and thought, “Aha. We’d better rummage through this guy’s trunk.”

  24. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Good one Will!

  25. Paul says:

    “I just love uninformed speculation, keep it up folks!”

    Isn’t that what the internet is for. That and smut.

  26. Rancid Crabtree says:

    Doolittle, are you seriously alleging a bias related illegal search and seizure?

  27. Paul says:

    In this particular case if we had in place some of the new federal laws being considered would be also be charged with a federal crime? Or just one or the other. I assume that under those circumstance (which we may see with new federal regulations) you would want the state police and the FBI involved in an investigation.

  28. Rancid Crabtree says:

    ATF actually. IIRC they only get involved if there is interstate commerce involved. In fact there is a case pending in Montana I believe that challenges the right of the Fed Gov to enforce any gun law in a state where there is no interstate commerce involved, ie- a gun made in Mt, sold in Mt, used in Mt by a resident of Mt cannot be regulated unless it leaves Mt. IIRC that was the same type of case that FDR lost in the SCOTUS back in the 30’s involving a chicken farmer and the WPA or one of his New Deal alphabet agencies.

  29. Rancid Crabtree says:

    The SP would not get involved in a Sheriffs case unless requested AFAIK. Both agencies have authority as far as the Penal Law goes. Of course Cuomo could try and get legislation that make the SP handling those cases mandatory. He might want to do that in fact if 56 or 58 Co Sheriffs feel his new law over reaches too far. That would be a typical power grab I’d expect from the likes of him.

  30. Will Doolittle says:

    My uninformed speculation is always deadly serious, Rancid. And whenever I use the word “aha,” I am staking my personal and professional reputation on whatever follows.

  31. Rancid Crabtree says:

    Well, you aren’t risking much, are you?

  32. Will Doolittle says:

    Aha, nah.

  33. Michael Greer says:

    But really, How did the police find their way into his trunk?? Don’t they need either a warrant or probable cause to go rooting through someone’s trunk? Perhaps there was a bit more to this story before the traffic stop even occurred. Dig Brian, dig!

  34. Leeroy says:

    @Michael – Don’t you watch CSI? The cops just THREATEN to get a warrant, and you let ’em in your house, your trunk, whatever. Piece of cake. NOT! Thank your lucky stars there is such a thing as Probable Cause, and that judges don’t hand out search warrants like Tootsie Rolls at the Christmas Parade. I love our Constitution.

  35. JDM says:

    Oh great. NYS is going to chase down law-abiding citizens in the name of making us all safer.

    We wanted safety, so we traded our freedom for chains, and we were safe…. Paul Harvey

    Might just as well lock us all up, now.

  36. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Yeah, quote Paul Harvey who gave up his freedom of journalism for a Dirt Devil and a Bose stereo.

  37. dave says:

    Right…. because restricting your access to military style weapons and accessories is like chaining or locking you up…

    Hard to take any of the opposition to these laws serious when the rhetoric and hyperbole is so over the top.

    I know it sucks when the majority of the society you live in disagrees with you on a topic you are passionate about… but I am not so sure the way to start winning people over to your side of the discussion is to hand out tin foil hats.

    If you make reasoned, logical arguments, maybe people will listen. If you are unable to do so, that says something about your position.

  38. Paul says:

    This guy probably gave them permission to look in his trunk for some reason. Cops have great instincts. It sounds like he had no idea the things might be illegal so why not let them take a look. They may be legal.

  39. mervel says:

    The problem is that most of the new law has nothing to do with military style weapons but focuses on hunters. I will load my own shotgun shells in the future and thus totally avoid entering the data base of dangerous people who hunt.

  40. JDM says:

    dave: The day will come when saying the word “hyperbole” in written discourse will be illegal and then you will be found in violation of the 8th amendment.

    Then, in order to keep me safe from people who use such words, some State Trooper will lock you up.

    When that day comes, you may have a clue what all this fuss is about.

  41. JDM says:

    First they came for the communists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

    Then they came for the socialists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.

    Then they came for the trade unionists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

    Then they came for me,
    and there was no one left to speak for me.

    Martin Niemöller

  42. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    And then they came for the word hyperbole ending all discussion on blogs forever.

  43. Rancid Crabtree says:

    From what I understand from an active duty NYS Trooper there was a court case that came down last year that mandates there has to be probable cause before a police officer even asks you if you have a weapon or drugs or anything else. If the SO followed this law then one would have to assume they had probable cause to enter the vehicle. The story, as bad as it is, says the mags were in his trunk. That requires more than “a hunch”.

  44. Paul says:

    RC, Maybe, but I think if he asked the owner if he can do it (just look) and he says yes that is fine. This guy may have thought that he was fine, he may be.

  45. Rancid Crabtree says:

    As I understand it Paul, you can’t even ask to look without probable cause.

  46. Two Cents says:

    i think he was pulled over for looking like the norwegian massacre guy’s brother, allegedly.

    rancid, serious question-
    would his wearing a uniform be probable cause he would/might have a firearm in the vehicle.

    what if the police officer was looking for a gun but found a bail of weed?

  47. If Clapton is God, Warren Haynes is Jesus says:

    Yes, you need probable cause, but such cause can be something as menial as a brake light not being bright enough, or swerving even slightly outside of your lane of traffic, or driving too slow, or not dimming your bright lights. If a police officer really wants to pull you over, they don’t need to be too creative to do so.

    The probable cause for a search doesn’t require much more creativity. For instance, “when asking for the suspects license and registration I thought I smelled alcohol on his/her breath, or thought I saw a marijuana pipe in his/her ashtray, or the suspect was acting erratically.” Then of course out comes the K-9 unit and then anything they find while searching for whatever they claimed to suspect you possessed can be used against you.

  48. Paul says:

    Two Cents,

    This is the whole point. Having a firearm in your vehicle is not a crime! You can’t have probable cause for NO crime being committed???

  49. Jason V says:

    The magazines were empty, and Nate owns a pickup, not a car, they were in the cab of his truck..no ammo, no gun, just 5 empty magazines.

  50. Two Cents says:

    yes paul,
    i was being my usual sarcastic self.

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