A Wisconsin man today surrendered to federal authorities to begin serving a 30-month prison term for having a broken rifle, prompting the Gun Owners of America to issue a warning about the owner’s liability should any semi-automatic weapon ever misfire.
“A gun that malfunctions is not a machine gun,” Larry Pratt, executive director of GOA, said. “What the [federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives] has done in the [David] Olofson case has set a precedent that could make any of the millions of Americans that own semi-automatic firearms suddenly the owner [of] an unregistered machine gun at the moment the gun malfunctions.”
Officials with Gun Owners of America told WND they met with Olofson today before he surrendered to federal authorities for his prison term. U.S. District Judge Charles Clevert had imposed the sentence after the gun in question let loose three shots at a firing range.
“It didn’t matter the rifle in question had not been intentionally modified for select fire, or that it did not have an M16 bolt carrier … that it did not show any signs of machining or drilling, or that that model had even been recalled a few years back,” said a commentary in Guns Magazine on the case against Olofson, of Berlin, Wis.
“It didn’t matter the government had repeatedly failed to replicate automatic fire until they replaced the ammunition with a softer primer type. It didn’t even matter that the prosecution admitted it was not important to prove the gun would do it again if the test were conducted today,” the magazine said. “What mattered was the government’s position that none of the above was relevant because ‘[T]here’s no indication it makes any difference under the statute. If you pull the trigger once and it fires more than one round, no matter what the cause it’s a machine gun.’
“No matter what the cause.”
“David Olofson is a victim of BATFE abuse,” Pratt said. “He has been railroaded by an agency that is out-of-control.”
An appeal is being assembled by a legal team at the William J. Olson, P.C., law firm, supplemented by attorney Bob Sanders, whose career stretches from being assistant director of criminal investigations at BATFE to many years in private trial law, officials said.
Constitutional expert Herb Titus also is counsel to the Olson law firm.
WND reported earlier when Olofson, a drill instructor in the National Guard, was convicted in a federal court for illegally transferring a machine gun.
The verdict came in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.
An expert witness said then the decision was filled with problems.
“If your semiautomatic rifle breaks or malfunctions you are now subject to prosecution. That is now a sad FACT,” wrote Len Savage, a weaponry expert who runs Historic Arms LLC.
“To those in the sporting culture who have derided ‘black guns’ and so-called ‘assault weapons’; Your double barreled shotgun is now next up to be seized and you could possibly be prosecuted if the ATF can get it to ‘fire more than once,’” he wrote in a blog run by Red’s Trading Post.
“Hey, but don’t worry,” Savage said. “The people testing it have no procedures in writing and the testing will be in secret.”
He said during an interview with Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership that Olofson had been instructing a man in the use of guns, and the student asked to borrow a rifle for some shooting practice.
“Mr. Olofson was nice enough to accommodate him,” Savage said. So the student, Robert Kiernicki, went to a range and fired about 120 rounds. “He went to put in another magazine and the rifle shot three times, then jammed.”
He said the rifle, which was subject to a manufacturer’s recall because of mechanical problems at one point, malfunctioned because of the way it was made.
Savage said once the government confiscated the gun, things got worse.
“They examined and test fired the rifle; then declared it to be ‘just a rifle,’” Savage said. “You would think it would all be resolved at this point, this was merely the beginning.”
He said the Special Agent in Charge, Jody Keeku, asked for a re-test and specified that the tests use “soft primered commercial ammunition.”
“FTB has no standardized testing procedures, in fact it has no written procedures at all for testing firearms,” Savage said. “They had no standard to stick to, and gleefully tried again. The results this time…’a machinegun.’ ATF with a self-admitted 50 percent error rate pursued an indictment and Mr. Olofson was charged with ‘Unlawful transfer of a machinegun.’. Not possession, not even Robert Kiernicki was charged with possession (who actually possessed the rifle), though the ATF paid Mr. Kiernicki ‘an undisclosed amount of money’ to testify against Mr. Olofson at trial,” Savage said.