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BATFE: ANY SEMI-AUTO CAN BE A MACHINE GUN

 

By Larry Pratt
July 22, 2008

NewsWithViews.com

On July 2 I went to jail.

Happily for me, I left right away. Sadly for David Olofson and his family, he had to stay, and will have to stay for 30 months in the Federal Correctional Institute in Sandstone, Minnesota.

Why is the federal government incarcerating an Army reservist from Berlin, Wisconsin who has 16 years of service, a mortgage, a wife and three kids? They convicted him for knowingly transferring an unregistered machine gun.

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.

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.

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.

The gun was tested twice ... both times with very different results. 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.

Firearms Enforcement Officer Max Kingrey got the gun to do something it had never done before. Suspicions of tampering by FEO Kingery, such as the addition of an auto sear or DIAS (considered a machine gun itself) could not be verified, as the defense was denied the opportunity to inspect the gun’s inner workings. FEO Kingery's testing was done in secret, and never verified by anyone.

In all probability, the Bureau tampered with evidence (the AR-15) and took a malfunctioning gun that jammed after a few rounds and converted it into a machine gun that dumped its magazine. Twenty-two years ago, a "drop in auto sear" or DIAS was made specifically for Olofson's rifle from the factory.

The Milwaukee BATFE agent, Jody Keeku, claims to have found the gun to be a machine gun when she checked it. That means she dry-fired it. A minimal knowledge of firearms (which seems to be above Ms. Keeku's pay grade) would be sufficient to conclude that a machine gun has to fire using its recoil from the first shot to set up and fire the next shot (until the burst control level is reached, or the finger is removed from the trigger).


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Ms. Keeku claims to be a firearms expert, but when the defense asked to see her training credentials and certifications, she declined to testify. She is at least smart enough to see that she would have been made to look foolish on the stand.

Using two tests to "prove" that the gun is a machine gun goes to one of the big problems illustrating the lack of accountability with The Gang. On other occasions the Bureau has "proved" an accessory to be a machine gun by bolting it to a board and tying the bolt with a shoe string. Since the shoe string was what made the gun fire "automatically," it was declared to be a machine gun. So if you see a BATFE agent, you had better be wearing loafers!

The same outcome-based testing found that an "upper" -- which ATF doesn't consider to be a firearm -- was a machine gun after covering it with duct tape. When that did not work, The Gang added chains, bolts and a piece of metal so the recoil could operate the gun automatically without a trigger. If you cock this not-so-handy device, it fires uncontrollably until empty. Not even a stupid bank robber would choose such a weapon. But then, we are talking about The Gang.

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. That is, not until the Bureau’s agent at the trial broke the gun trying to reassemble it and asked for Savage’s help in getting the gun back together.

Olympic Arms had been subject to a recall order by the BATFE in1986. 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. More outcome-based procedures.

Why was this information not presented to the court? Because the truth-challenged agents of The Gang told the court that not even the judge could see such privileged taxpayer information. Right. Unhappily, Olympic Arms did not have a copy of the order because their plant burned down in 2000.

The judge displayed extreme prejudice during the sentencing hearing. Olofson had successfully defended himself against anti-self defense local cops who twice charged him while he was openly carrying a handgun -- something that is legal in Wisconsin! But the judge stated that anybody who carries a gun is dangerous, and he was adding to the severity of the decision because of the charges against which Olofson had prevailed!

Never forget, the judge also denied Olofson's firearms expert access to the evidence used against him. BATFE was allowed to video tape the "test firing" of the firearm, not Olofson. The tape shown in court was only a few short seconds showing a gun at such a distance that it was not possible to tell that it was Olofson's gun.

Had Rep. Phil Gingrey's H.R. 1791 been law, it is safe to say that Olofson would not have been convicted. Gingrey's "Fairness in Firearm Testing Act" would require an unedited video of firearms testing in criminal cases to be made available to the defense. This was a requirement imposed on The Gang by the U.S. Attorney in the U.S. vs. Glover case. When the video was reviewed by the prosecution, they dropped the case with prejudice (legal speak which means the case can never be brought up again).

Not only is Gun Owners of America 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.

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Those interested in making a small monthly donation from a charge to their credit card can go to gunowners.org 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.

It is outrageous that an innocent man is in jail, but we are hoping to minimize the ugly impact of that on his family.

2008 Larry Pratt - All Rights Reserved

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Larry Pratt has been Executive Director of Gun Owners of America for 27 years. GOA is a national membership organization of 300,000 Americans dedicated to promoting their second amendment freedom to keep and bear arms.

He published a book, Armed People Victorious, in 1990 and was editor of a book, Safeguarding Liberty: The Constitution & Militias, 1995. His latest book, On the Firing Line: Essays in the Defense of Liberty was published in 2001.

The GOA web site is:  gunowners.org. Pratt's weekly talk show Live Fire is archived there at: www.gunowners.org/radio.htm  

E-Mail: ldpratt@gunowners.org

Either Pratt or another GOA spokesman is available for press interviews.


 

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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.