Monday, February 5, 2018

The Las Vegas Shooting And the Ammo Seller Arrest

It took me a while to tease out of this story what I think is going on.  The news story is summarized on Ammoland's website.  Their article pretty much echoes what little I saw on the national news.
Authorities have charged Douglas Haig, 55, of Mesa Arizona with selling “armor-piercing ammunition” to Las Vegas killer Stephen Paddock according to court documents acquired by the Associated Press. Haig works full time as an aerospace engineer and part-time as a manufacturer of reloaded ammunition.
The story said the local police recovered tracer rounds from Paddock's room, and traced them back to Haig by fingerprint.
According to the court documents police also found unfired armor-piercing rounds within the hotel room. Law enforcement was able to lift a fingerprint off one of the armor-piercing cartridges. Douglas Haig matched that print and was named a person of interest in the case after law enforcement found his name, and address on a box that was in Paddock's possession.
Haig and his lawyer, Marc Victor, held a press conference on Friday claiming that Haig was innocent. According to Haig, he met a well-dressed Paddock at a gun show in Phoenix, Arizona. He stated Paddock wanted to more [SIC] tracer rounds than he had on hand at the show, so Paddock called him a few days later to set up a sell of 720 tracer rounds at Haig's house.
Haig further claims that Paddock did not use his ammunition in the attack because he only sold him tracer rounds.
David Codrea links to the actual court document.  There is one charge.
Conspiracy to Manufacture and Sell Armor-Piercing Ammunition
(18 U.S.C. 371, 922(a)(7),(a)(8) and 924(a)(1)(D))
So the headlines typically shout he was arrested for manufacturing armor piercing rounds and never mention tracers.  I don't have to tell this audience that when the terms "armor piercing" and "tracers" are used, "one of these things is not like the other".  The police are saying he manufactured the armor-piercing rounds and got one of Haig's fingerprints off one, but Haig claims he never sold Paddock anything except tracer rounds.  The court filing says they were .308 rounds "metallurgically classified as armor piercing incendiary" by some definition.  Does that mean Haig considered them tracers but the FBI lab said they were armor piercing, too? 

The headlines also scream he was manufacturing armor piercing rounds without a license.  As far as I can tell, there is no special license for manufacturing armor piercing ammunition, or even tracers, just a general prohibition against manufacturing armor piercing ammo (for which there are too many definitions) unless it's for sale to the US government or export (18 U.S. Code § 922 A 7).  There's a general requirement to be licensed if manufacturing ammunition and reselling it.  It seems likely that Haig had what the IRS calls a hobby business, which is one that isn't the owner's livelihood, and that some people keep so they can successfully get reimbursed for the expenses of their hobby.  (I've known several people over the years that sold things they made to help pay for their hobbies).  All the sources say Haig is an "aerospace engineer" with the reload business on the side.  The ATF website shows the following:
Is a person who reloads ammunition required to be licensed as a manufacturer?

Yes, if the person engages in the business of selling or distributing reloads for the purpose of livelihood and profit.

No, if the person reloads only for personal use.
There's a long gap between selling for profit and selling for the purpose of one's livelihood.  This is a gray area: let's say someone shoots your reloads and likes them, so they offer to buy the components and give you a few bucks to do the work.  It's hard to argue that's making a profit.  How many people have arrangements with neighbors along the lines of "if you cut my lawn for me or shovel my driveway I'll give you a few bucks".  It's not livelihood, but if the BATFE wants to argue it's for profit, they have the infinite checkbook of the federal government.

I suspect Haig is in the gap between recovering the cost of his hobby and truly making it his livelihood and they're getting ready to hang him so that they can say "we got someone".

Douglas Haig

Of course, if any of you know more or better, the floor is yours!


  1. API-T would be armor piercing and tracer...

    But I don't think there's such an animal smaller than .50.

    1. I have an old BATFE summary (pdf) of all the laws, and that was the only one I could find laws about using text searches.

  2. This is a red herring. Sturm un Drang. Smoke and mirrors. There is definitely something rotten about the Vegas shooting and Paddock. A helluva lot of what we DO know doesn't make much sense and we have no idea what they won't tell us. The fact that he had 2 dozen AR type rifles in his room is a HUGE clue that this is more than just a man with a goal of committing mass murder. You don't need and indeed couldn't use even half that many firearms in such a quest before SWAT did it's job. But if your goal is to feed the anti 2A agenda with some fodder for the fire......well then it's perfect. I suspect the arrest and charges against Mr. Haig is just a diversion. The media and the feeble minded are screaming for .gov to "DO SOMETHING". And rather than tell us the truth they did....the chose some poor schmuck who at MOST committed a procedural violation of some arcane and contradictory regulation to be their scapegoat. Mr. Haig is about to be crucified by the government and the media to serve THEIR AGENDA. And we will still not know what REALLY is going on with the Vegas/Paddock case.

  3. I seriously doubt that Mr. Haig produced, on his own, armor piercing, incendiary bullets. That's the offense at hand, right? How does a hobbyist produce high-quality, technically complicated bullets. That's not typical lead casting.

    And it's not like it's hard to find armor piercing ammo. It's sold almost everywhere. I don't think anybody knows about the ban, or that the ATF usually cares. Just look up all the videos on the Tube of You.

    1. We can wander by the Cast Boolits forums and ask folks how to make that.

      The thing about armor piercing is that the '10-'11 copy of the ATF summary of laws has at least three definitions. One says it applies to .50 cal only, one says it has to be fired from a handgun to be considered AP, and another is so broad it would include the common "green tip" AR ammo.

      None of them even nod in the direction that anything bigger than, say, .300 Win Mag will penetrate a half inch of steel. (That's PFA, but lots of high power rifle rounds will do that)

    2. Cast bullets and this "AP/incendiary" thing are totally different things. Cast bullets are suitable for handguns, and with lots of hobbyist love and tedious care, for some rifle situations but only if you go to lots of extra effort. None of those rifle situations for casting are suitable for AR-type gas-operated rifles.

      If as a reloader, Haig would have had to find projectiles to load to make "AP" or "Tracer/incendiary" ammo. I am pretty sure as a longtime reloader (spent a fair amount of time on and have cast a lot of bullets, too) that there's no hobbyist way to manufacture these kinds of projectiles. The most sophisticated projectiles I know of that a hobbyist could make would be copper jacketed FMJ bullets, and those only with a decent $ outlay to buy the machine to do it.

      I agree with the statement that this is a red herring- don't see at all how this guy (Haig) is relevant to the mass murder in Las Vegas.

  4. There is a solution for this. And "Law Enforcement" and the "Legal" system - and their families - may soon feel it if they do not deal promptly and appropriately with the treason and sedition against President Trump which is rampant in the Deep State.

  5. Long story short, if you're not in the gun business, don't sell nothin' to nobody you aren't licensed to do.
    If he's selling things at a table at a gun show, he's in business.
    Game over.

    This has as much to do with what happened in the Vegas shooting as it does with the price of tea in China.

    We still have no idea who did what, or why.
    And, at this point, I have to figure that's by official design and consistent purpose.

    1. Long story short, if you're not in the gun business, don't sell nothin' to nobody you aren't licensed to do.
      If he's selling things at a table at a gun show, he's in business.
      Game over.

      Doesn't this put Gun Broker out of business? Doesn't it end classified newspaper ads, gun clubs, gun shows, and every other place where it's perfectly legal to sell your private property? I could rent a table at my local gun show to sell guns I don't want any more and it's not being in business. There are laws about such things that we need to follow, but they respect we have a right to sell private property. I realize you're in California and the laws may be more restrictive, but in Florida selling my property at a gun show doesn't make me a business.

      As for the rest, we're in total agreement. As I said, I think it's just so they can brag they got someone.

      After that, you take your choice of theory to believe.

    2. You want to do occasional sales of your property you're disposing of, fine and dandy.

      You rent a shop (including a table at a gun show), or run a continuous ad, you're in the trade, and most juries will convict you of such on that basis.

      The same thing happens with yard sales that turn into every-week events, and people running rolling carts and food trucks right next to brick-and-mortar restaurants. (And nota bene that TPTB never go after unlicensed illegal Pedro and Maria with a roach coach taco truck and Tijuana health standards, but will move heaven and earth to shut down Suzie Normal running a lemonade stand on Saturday in front of her house for not having a food seller's permit.)

      And yes, this is what BATFE does, because it's easier than going after actual criminals.

      None of which has dick to do with the Vegas shooting, which underlines the point that they aren't really investigating that.

  6. Classic case of dog barking in the night. The dog did not bark in the night. Precisely, Watson.

  7. I suspect this is one of their 'acting as a manufacturer/ dealer' complaints that the ATF comes up with every so often. I have known (second hand) people who got really into reloading who were selling thousands of rounds at gun shows to support their hobby until they got a visit from the ATF; for the situations I know of, no charges were filed, but the ATF always has the option to and I agree that it is probably what they are doing in this case.
    I THINK it is the 'manufacturing' that is the more prosecutable issue here than whether it is armor piercing or not. The government doesn't like unlicensed manufacturers because then they don't get their licenses, fees, and taxes (for example, excise taxes on ammo).

  8. As of the last time I looked, 5.56 M855 and .30 M2AP, green and black tip respectively, were specifically exempted in the regs because surplus stocks are used in competition.

  9. Here is a "legal" defensive argument I don't expect to see the judge permit in court: paragraph two of the highest law of the land, the bill of rights, says there shall be no such thing as laws restricting ammo.

    Conservatives talk different from gun banners, but they obey law enforcement officers and squeal on gun law breakers just the same.

    1. Illustrate the appearance of the word "ammunition" in the Bill of Rights.
      Show your work.

      (Hint: It's right next to the word "privacy".)

      And before you lose your mind, bear well in it that I can make the case for unrestricted private ownership of crew-served weapons and artillery, but it's an argument from common law custom and practice, and the actual Constitution, and not directly from the Bill of Rights per se.

    2. Illustrate the appearance of the word "ammunition" in the Bill of Rights.

      "Arms" includes rifle ammunition, sailing ships with cannons to shell coastal towns, and ICBMs carrying nuclear bombs. While I support your right to keep and bear nuclear bombs, I don't support you pointing them at me, and I don't believe you when you claim they are unloaded. Respecting weapon industrial safety principles so you don't create a safety hazard is your problem. Bringing a nuke closer than 100 miles to a continent should get you charged with millions of counts of reckless endangerment.

      Or, you can take the position that the constitution was an evil scam intended to sell the commoners into debt slavery, and doesn't deserve to be trusted as a moral foundation. Still, my conclusions about which weapon behaviors you should be permitted do not change.

  10. Based on what little is known, and what we understand of past behavior by BATFE - to include "Fast and Furious" - this simply has to be a false flag operation ala "Fast and Furious". Which is why Paddock "suicided" so conveniently, leaving an inordinate amount of hardware behind, far more than he could possibly have used.

    The entities who understand that registration followed by confiscation are required before their agenda can be advanced most likely _staged_ this incident. The lack of verifiable information leads me to believe that those who are investigating may not have been clued in, but are certainly being "managed" by agencies whose agenda is the eventual disarming of those of us Boomers (and others) who remember what freedom at least _looked_ like.

    If Paddock had been a veteran, I would have said someone was copying Matt Bracken's fictional "stadium massacre". But perhaps that was thought to be too obvious, so Paddock's body was used instead. Color it "conspiracy theory", but the fact that the venue _someone_ fired into was basically conservative (Country-Western music) makes me believe this originated with the Left.

    We will probably remain in the dark until Wikileaks, the Russians, or the Chinese show us the real facts here. Our Federal agencies certainly have no desire to be transparent about this event.