A man convicted of transferring an unregistered machine gun after his loaned gun fired a burst of bullets and jammed has been released from his 30-month prison term to begin rebuilding his life, according to supporters.
Gun Owners of America confirmed today that David Olofson was released.
“David Olofson has been subjected to a gross miscarriage of justice,” the organization’s announcement said. “What happened to Olofson could happen to any American who owns a semi-automatic firearm.”
The group said Olofson was “convicted of knowingly transferring an unregistered machine gun – a gun which fired a burst and jammed.”
“Gun owners call that a malfunction,” the group said. “The federal government calls it an easy way to get a felony conviction.”
Olofson, an information technology professional with a wife and three children, was a member of the National Guard, the organization noted.
“He took his appeal to the Supreme Court which declined to hear it. This was in spite of the trial court having ruled in direct opposition to a recent decision of the Supreme Court itself!”
GOA said Olofson has launched an online business called Joules of Nature, and gun rights enthusiasts are free to offer their support.
Before the Supreme Court refused to take the case, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the criminal conviction after the trial court ruled that the malfunction constituted “automatic” fire from the AR-15.
The court heard government arguments that if a gun fires more than one bullet, it is an automatic weapon, no matter the reason. Olofson had loaned the weapon to a prospective buyer, who took it to a range where it unleashed several bursts of multiple rounds then jammed.
Olofson’s defense team had argued the case is about nothing more than a malfunction.
Constitutional lawyer Herb Titus, who argued at the appellate level on behalf of Olofson, said the government’s case was simple: “Olofson’s malfunctioning semi-automatic rifle functioned as a machinegun because it fired more than one shot at the single pull of a trigger.”
However, Titus contended the government’s position is contrary to fact, established law and precedent.
The government even, in Olofson’s case, applied a definition “contrary to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives own definition in a guide to law enforcement,” Titus had argued.
Under this government definition, regardless of the reason, a gun is a machine gun if more than one bullet is fired with a single pull of the trigger. That could apply to grandpa’s double-barreled as well as the local police sidearm, if it malfunctions similarly, he said.
The normally accepted definition of a machine gun is a weapon that will fire repeatedly until the trigger is released or the ammunition exhausts. But in Olofson’s case, when the trigger was pulled, the first tests showed no “automatic” action.
Then the government reported a change in the type of ammunition used, and the rifle loosed off several shots and jammed.
“By this time, the weapon had been in the hands of the ATF for four
months. What caused the functional change in the weapon to fire as it had not done
before is unknown, although the ATF agent did acknowledge that the change in the
outcome from the October test resulted from a change to ‘softer primer’
ammunition,” the appellate documents said.
WND reported earlier when the Gun Owners of America launched a campaign to help support Olofson’s family.
“A gun that malfunctions is not a machine gun,” Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America told WND at the time the case developed. “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.”
ATF officials have declined to speak with WND on the record.
“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.”