The Gun Owners of America have launched a campaign to help support the family of a man sentenced to 30 months in jail for a rifle that misfired.
Officials with GOA today announced they will be working to generate support for the wife and three children of David Olofson, on whom WND has reported in the past, while a GOA-orchestrated appeal of his conviction proceeds.
“Not only is Gun Owners of American representing Olofson during his appeal, we have set up an Olofson relief fund so that his wife and mother of their three young children will be able to keep making her mortgage and car payments,” Larry Pratt, chief of the organization, said in an editorial provided to WND.
“Those interested in making a small monthly donation from a charge to their credit card can go to www.gunowners.org/olofson.htm or call GOA and arrange over the phone to have this done. All funds so collected will go toward the monthly payments, or if possible, to prepayment of the principal loan amounts. The automatic donations will cease when Olofson is out of prison or when the donor instructs GOA to discontinue them,” he wrote.
“It is outrageous that an innocent man is in jail, but we are hoping to minimize the ugly impact of that on his family,” Pratt said.
Olofson, of Berlin, Wis., surrendered to federal authorities on July 2 to begin his 30-month prison term.
“A gun that malfunctions is not a machine gun,” Pratt said that the time. “What the [federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives] has done in the 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.”
Pratt said he went to the Federal Correctional Institute in Sandstone, Minn., with Olofson, but he left alone.
“Why is the federal government incarcerating an Army reservist from Berlin, Wis., who has 16 years of service, a mortgage, a wife and three kids? They convicted him for knowingly transferring an unregistered machine gun,” Pratt said. “Since the case was brought by the rogue agency – the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) – we must assume that not only was Olofson innocent until proven guilty, but that he is still innocent after conviction. That is why Gun Owners of America is handling Olofson’s appeal,” he said.
“As our attorneys have looked into the records of the case, it is obvious that a miscarriage of justice has been perpetrated. The chief piece of evidence is an AR-15 made by Olympic Arms many years ago. Olofson had loaned the gun to a young man, who was his neighbor. At a range the gun fired two bursts of three rounds each and then jammed. Normal people would understand that a gun that jams is malfunctioning and seek to get it fixed,” Pratt said.
“For the Bureau (aka The Gang), a malfunctioning gun is an excellent opportunity to rack up an easy conviction on an illegal machine gun charge,” he said.
ATF officials have declined to speak with WND on the record. They explain that because of the rules for gun licenses and the like, such disputes between a gun owner and the federal agency are considered tax issues, and they cannot discuss them publicly.
The ATF did say it would provide WND with documentation explaining the government’s arguments in the Olofson case, however that hasn’t happened yet.
Pratt said the Olofson weapon was tested twice. “The first test came back with a report that the gun is a semi-automatic rifle. The next test came back with a report that it had fired a 20-round burst, and was thus a machine gun.”
However, he said there was no unedited video of the test, and defense lawyers were denied requests to examine the gun or testing procedures.
He also said it was suggestive that one BATFE agent who alleged the gun was a machine gun later declined to testify.
“When a court-recognized firearms expert, Len Savage of Historic Arms, was brought in by the defense, he was not allowed to touch or test fire the gun,” Pratt wrote.
“Olympic Arms had been subject to a recall order by the BATFE in 1986. Why? Because many of the guns would fire a short burst and then jam. Then it was a malfunctioning gun, but now it is a machine gun,” he said.
“But much of the evidence to the defense wasn’t presented in court because “‘The Gang’ told the court that not even the judge could see such privileged taxpayer information,” he said.
U.S. District Judge Charles Clevert imposed Olofson’s sentence.
“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.
“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.”