13 January 2008

A drill instructor in the National Guard convicted in a Wisconsin federal court of illegally transferring a "machine gun"

Hattip to Len Savage

Mr. Olofson, a Drill Instructor in the National Guard, was asked by Robert Kiernicki to teach him how to shoot a firearm. Olofson did and from time to time would let Mr. Kiernicki borrow his oldest AR-15 , go to a public range and target practice. He always returned the firearm and on his third time at the range after 120 rounds down range the rifle sputtered three times and jammed. The Law enforcement on the range swept in...

The rifle in question seized now by the ATF; It was sent to Firearm Technology Branch (FTB), the testing Arm of the BATFE. They examined and test fired the rifle; then declared it to be "just a rifle". You would think it would all be resolved at this point, this was merely the beginning. The Special Agent in Charge Jody Keeku asked FTB to re-test the firearm and this time use soft primered commercial ammunition.

FTB has no standardized testing procedures, in fact it has no written procedures at all for testing firearms. They had no standard to stick to, and gleefully tried again. The results this time..."a Machinegun". ATF with a self admitted 50% 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.

At the same time Mr. Olofson was being charged with "Unlawful Transfer" because the rifle malfunctioned and had a M-16 trigger, disconnector, and hammer; calling it an AR-15 with M-16 trigger parts (not the parts that make a machinegun). The ATF removed "a machinegun" from the NFRTR or NFA registry, claiming it was an AR-15 with M-16 parts, therefore NOT "a machinegun". I have the documents, I can prove this.

The court was never shown this information. When Mr. Olofson's Attorneys requested the court compel the ATF to provide this and other documents that proved his innocence to the court. The ATF Chief Counsel's Office told the court the documents contained tax information (federal excise tax stamp for $200) and the court was prohibited from seeing them. All documents were kept secret from the Honorable Judge Clevert and the rest of the court. Even the letter from the ATF to the manufacturer of Mr. Olofson's rifle from 1986, which mandated a "safety recall" due to the rifle going "full auto" if it malfunctioned. ATF Chief Counsel told AUSA Haanstad, who then told the court "The Court will have take our word, that the documents in question contain tax information and contain no exculpatory evidence".

It gets even worse...

AUSA Haanstad claimed the law does not exempt a malfunction. He claims that it states "any weapon that shoots more than once without manual reloading, per function of the trigger is a machinegun". To clarify when I was on the stand, I asked him "Are you saying if I take my Great Granddaddy's double barrel out and I pull one trigger and both barrels go off, its a machinegun?". He went back to the law (United States Code, Section 5845 (b)), and claims "any weapon that shoots..."

If your semiautomatic rifle breaks or malfunctions your are now subject to prosecution. That is now a sad FACT. I guess we know now what Senator Kennedy meant when he said he looked forward to working with Mike Sullivan on Gun control issues, after his committee approved him for full Senate vote.

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".

Hey, but don't worry. The people testing it have no procedures in writing and the testing will be in secret. Also if you know of information that proves YOUR innocence, maybe the ATF won't claim that it's tax information at your trial and prevent YOUR judge from viewing it.

Are you next up on the menu?

Len Savage-President
Historic Arms LLC


Anonymous said...

CNN's Lou Dobbs just did a story on this. Hopefully the NRA or Olofson's congressman will get involved in this.

Spatchcock said...

For completeness, can you explain why the courts are not permitted to view documents containing tax information (or just cite the name of the law that explains it)?

Anonymous said...

NRA isn't touching it. Its a "black gun" and they only defend you if its an "acceptable" gun. Remeber, they advocated going for the "assault weapons" ban because if we didn't we'd "get something even worse".
Guess what, I don't send money to them anymore.
The GOA (Gun Owners of America) IS picking up the appeal and trying to help Mr. Olafson (whom I have had contact with over the internet before this debacle. Very nice man). JPFO is also on the ball with this case.


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