October 18th, 2009

The Olofson Firearms Case: An Army Reservist and Innnocent Man, Imprisoned Because His Rifle Malfunctioned, is Denied Justice. Will You Be Next?


infringers

David_OlofsonFor those who are not familiar with the Olofson Firearms case, David Olofson is a U.S. Army reservist who was tried and convicted by the U.S.  government on the charge of “transferring an unregistered machine gun” after he lent his 20-year old AR-15 rifle to a friend, Robert Kiernicki, and it malfunctioned on a shooting range, emitting multiple rounds and immediately jamming three times in a row, which aroused suspicion that the rifle was an automatic weapon.  Someone called the police, who then called the BATFE.  Olofson was convicted in July, 2008 and sentenced to 30 months in prison.   He appealed, but the Seventh Circuit upheld the conviction, accepting the U.S. government’s absurd argument that any gun that fires more than one shot per trigger pull, for any reason, even a malfunction, is a “machine gun.”    See this write up by David Codrea.

clip from 2008

Oath Keepers Founder Stewart Rhodes writes Pro Bono Amicus Brief in Support of Olofson’s Appeal to the Supreme Court

Olofson then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.  Olofson’s excellent brief,  submitted by William J. Olson P.C., Attorneys at Law, can be found at their web site: http://www.lawandfreedom.com

Stewart Rhodes, the founder of Oath Keepers, and fellow Second Amendment attorney David T. Hardy (http://armsand thelaw.com), working pro bono (for free), submitted an an Amicus Brief to the United States Supreme Court in support of Olofson’s petition for writ of certiorari (see the below embedded PDF).  That amicus brief was submitted on behalf of the Montana Shooting Sports Association and the Virginia Citizens Defense League.

The amicus brief was written with the crucial assistance of firearms expert Len Savage, who helped explain to the Court all the many ways that any semiautomatic firearm can malfunction and fire more than one shot per trigger pull, for a multitude of reasons, such as broken parts, dirty parts, defective parts, improper ammunition, etc.   In fact, as the brief points out, even a double barrel shotgun or a revolver, such as Grand-Dad’s old six-shooter, can malfunction and fire more than one shot per trigger pull, and are thus “machine-guns” under the government’s absurd definition.

Justice Denied to One Innocent Man, and Gun Owners Everywhere Put at Risk of Becoming “Instant Felons”

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court declined to review the Olofson case.  As usual, the Court gave no explanation for why, merely issuing an order denying the petition.

OlofsonDavid Olofson, husband, father of three, Army Reservist, Innocent man, with his wife and kids during a recent prison visit.   Can there be any more blatant example of how broken our legal system is?  Of a denial of due process?  Of the law turned into a predatory weapon against the liberty of the people?   And where was the amicus brief of the ACLU?

Now, millions of gun owners are at risk of becoming instant felons every time they pull the trigger. As the Amicus Brief makes clear, any and all semiautomatics can malfunction and fire more than one shot per trigger pull, for a multitude of reasons.    The below amicus brief is highly recommended reading so you can know just how absurd the government’s position is, and how it threatens the liberty of every shooter.  There is no way for a shooter to ever completely prevent the chance of such a malfunction, which is very common on firing ranges (commonly known as a “double,” or a “string”).   So, every time you shoot, from now on, you too could become an “instant felon” and can be railroaded into prison, just because your weapon malfunctions.

Here is a copy of the brief.

Olofson Amicus Brief Final Version

NOTE FROM STEWART:

I did not charge a dime to write this amicus brief.  I felt it was my duty to do all I could to help, and it was a matter of honor for me to not charge anything.  The same is true for attorney David Hardy and firearms expert Len Savage. They also were glad to help, no charge.

However, it still cost the Montana Shooting Sports Association and the Virginia Citizens Defense League $1,000.00 in printing and filing costs (40 copies of the amicus brief for the Supreme Court alone). So, if you can donate to the Montana Shooting Sports Association to help cover those costs of fighting the good fight, please do so by visiting their site here and clicking on the donate button in the upper left corner.

As you may know, the Montana Shooting Sports Association has been on the front lines of many 10th Amendment and Second Amendment state legislation efforts and cases. The latest example is the made in Montana gun bill and accompanying litigation. So, even though the Supreme Court denied cert in this case, when you help cover the costs, you enable the MSSA to fight another day in other battles.

Please Donate to the Olofson Family Relief Fund

Also, while money cannot replace a husband and father who has been unjustly taken from his family, the Olofson family has lost their breadwinner.   Please help to make sure that David Olofson’s wife and kids don’t also lose the family car or the roof over their heads.

Please consider sending what you can, as often as you can, to the Olofson Relief Fund, which is administered by Larry Pratt and Gun Owners of America.   Here is the GOA statement:

David Olofson has been subjected to a gross miscarriage of justice. What happened to Olofson could happen to any American who owns a semi-automatic firearm.

He was convicted of knowingly transferring an unregistered machine gun — a standard semi-auto rifle which fired two three-round bursts and then jammed. Gun owners call that a malfunction. The federal government calls it an easy way to get a felony conviction. Olofson was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison.

David Olofson is an information technology professional with a wife, three children and a mortgage. Until his conviction, he was also in the National Guard.

The Olofson Relief Fund has been set up to allow concerned Americans to help the Olfoson’s make their mortgage and (their one) car payments while Dave is unable to work.

If you decide to make a monthly contribution to the Olofson Relief Fund, your credit card will be charged monthly for the amount you have indicated. This will continue until Olofson is out of prison — or you notify us to discontinue the charges. You may also choose to make a one time donation.

Gun Owners of America is acting as the agent for the fund. All moneys collected will be transferred regularly to the mortgage and car loan holders. These contributions are not tax-deductible.




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131 Responses to “The Olofson Firearms Case: An Army Reservist and Innnocent Man, Imprisoned Because His Rifle Malfunctioned, is Denied Justice. Will You Be Next?”

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  1. 1
    Marine Warrior Says:

    Who initiated the charges to start with? Someone had to file a complaint. Who did that? Someone had to issue a warrant. Who did that? How did the Feds get involved? I saw the Police and the ATF involved. Where was the County Sheriff? The Sheriff is the Chief Law Enforcement Officer of his County. Did he relinquish his authority? There is a bigger picture here and a hidden agenda on the part of the Federal Prosecuter. Who is he? Where did he get his information? I guess the big question is why did the State allow the Feds to stomp all over one of the States citizens?

  2. 2
    Mr. Smith Says:

    Mr. Olofson you are in me and my familys prayers..

  3. 3
    Vinture Says:

    If this story is what it seems to be on the surface is true, this is an outrage. One of the biggest violations of the 2nd Amendment rights I have seen since Katrina. Happening to a Army vet no less.

    The Government better do some serious explaining if he winds up being guilty. The fact that they took his legally owned weapons as well is just down right illegal.

  4. 4
    SMARTIN Says:

    This is a prime example of the “overcriminalization” happening all over this country. This government cares little about how it treats its citizens. Every single person in the US is at risk for this kind of treatment. You , your kids, your grandkids – everyone. One mistake and their lives are ruined. There is little freedom if any left in the US. If the feds want, they can find something to send ANYONE to prison!! Will Americans ever stand up?????

  5. 5
    Josephus Montagnus Says:

    Unfortunately, this obscenity by BATFE coming as it does on decades of similar obscenities, makes clear a preferred tactic in dealing with them. Since there is no possibility of a fair trial and hard prison time is the only possible outcome of an encounter with these “people”… one must decide whether one wants to rot in prison or take affirmative action when it matters. This is an ugly choice, forced on us by the very people we have hired to administer our common interests in our name. Good Lord in heaven, we are serfs in our own land, enslaved by our own servants.

  6. 6
    mike Says:

    Two important legal facts to mention are that the gun was a legally made semi-auto AR-15 manufactured by Olympic Arms and that it is well known fact that there is a malfunction that cause a semi-auto firearm to go FULL-AUTO and that occurs by a number of factors. 1). Slam firing is when the safety fails and a round goes off without the shooter intent or a part in the gun breaks or is prevented from doing it’s job and the gun fires on it’s own. Debris, sometimes pieces of brass from the shell or a bad primer falls apart and it lodges itself between the mechanisms designed to catch the hammer. This causes the hammer to be in a free state still under spring pressure, so when the the bolt comes back after firing it cocks the hammer, another part catches the hammer, if this part fails to catch the hammer because it is broken or debris falls onto it preventing it to perform then when the bolt goes back towards the barrel picking up a new round out of the magazine and loading it into the barrel the hammer slams the bolt hitting the firing pin causing the round to fire which then pushes the bolt back, which cocks the hammer which then does not get captured by the part that is supposed to and the bolt slams home another round and the hammer falls again on the firing pin and it keeps doing this until the timing is thrown off or the magazine is empty, that is a a classic case of slam firing. The most common thing is that it fires twice and jams. The reason is Full-auto fire is a mechanical process that requires precise timing, the parts were created at the factory to fire when the cartridge is all the way in the barrel and the bolt locked in place, otherwise extreme danger and injury can occur if there is a mechanical failure and the process is out of sync. A premature explosion can occur. But most of the time the gun burps out two to three shots or sometimes it empties the entire magazine. This has happened to a lot of shooters I have read about. The reason that it only fire twice and then jams is that on the third loading in the full-auto slam fire mode the round is not all the way seated in the chamber, the bolt is not seated in the barrel and the hammer is now pushing on the firing pin at the same speed the bolt and cartridge are moving in which will not provide enough striking power to set off the primer that is on the back and center of the cartridge for it to ignite the powder and set off the explosion that will propel the bullet and provide the type of energy the firearm requires to push the bolt back and cock the hammer. So it just jams. Things break, things got broken off and little pieces of debris get caught in the mechanisms causing all kinds of malfunctions, notably this being the one we are talking about has caused such great controversy.
    It is a well known fact that many firearms like the AR-15 were designed and intended for full auto fire, more correctly select fire, semi-auto and full-auto. Every person who claims to know a lot about military style firearms also knows that they had to be altered by the factory to be impossible to fire full-auto if sold as a semi-auto, though prior to 1986 many manufactures did make legally transferable select-fire or full-auto firearms too(paying a $200 tax to the BATFE a civilian could legally own under the supervision of the BATFE a full-auto as long as legal in the state they resided in)After 1986 all future full-autos made would not be sell able to the general public only to police and military or foreigners. So this gun was made as a semi-auto only, could not be made a full-auto. It does not have the right parts and the shape of the gun and it’s metal are not carved, machined or forged correctly for the parts even if they were installed to operate correctly. The gun can not be legally called a full-auto otherwise all semi-autos must be labeled “Potential Full-auto’s) right? How ridiculous. It really comes to how dumb down everyone is and how ignorant the media has made gun owners. For someone to say they are pro-gun but they want to ban “assault rifles” is like saying to the Minute men, you don’t need muskets, spears kill just as good, yeah right!
    Point being legally would not some responsibility have to fall on the manufacture or the AR-15 too if the Government is going to take such an extreme position on the matter. If the gun malfunctions, then the design or the quality of the parts and the metal used would fall on the shoulders of the company that made it NOT the owner, but the maker. I mean there have been countless historical precedence in the auto industry, the tobacco industry, the health industry and in every other field where a designer or maker of something lost in court and was found liable for poor manufacturing or causing serious harm. So I feel that the state has violated this mans rights. First how is it if in your car driving it that your brakes fail or your steering brakes you are at fault? Or your roof collapses or a tree falls on your house you are at fault? This is absurd. The point is that this proud patriotic Army veteran needs a good lawyer or maybe a dozen to weed out this garbage. I for one know that he did not have a qualified weapons expert to testify for his defense. Or a lot of this I have been explaining would of made clear that he was not at fault. I also know that the conclusion did not even meet merit. If the gun had exploded because the metal was weak in it or the cartridge had been poorly made would they charge him with murder? Dick Cheney never spent a day in jail when he shot his friend out hunting. Accidents happen, right? I would think shooting your friend would be a bigger one than if your gun jammed, or shot two shots because of a malfunction would not you?

    I think the liberals and haters of liberty won’t be happy till we all can’t own a handgun or a semi-auto and the only guns they will allow us to have will be Shotguns and scoped heavy barrel rifles in .308, for long range deer killing. AHH, no they don’t want that either!

  7. 7
    Anonymous Says:

    As a life time hunter fisherwoman this article disturbs me. What has happened to common sense? I have been feeling things going wrong in this nation and my Mom had a saying about reading between the lines. I think we are about to go thru a very bad time in this nation and I am so afraid for us. It matters not what your skin color is. Freedom lovers should all beware.

  8. 8
    Richard Darby Says:

    The problem is in the law and when Congress and the White House change hands, we need conservative lawmakers to change it. The law should at the very least exempt any firearm that malfunctions. However, it’s scary to realize that this happened under a Bush Justice Dept.

  9. 9
    samIam30252 Says:

    BUSH was a communist just like Obummer. STOP voting the 2 party system!! Your duty as an American is to vote for Constitutionalist party!!! Otherwise shut up, because your part of the problem. Ron Paul for President. go to
    KickThemAllOut.com
    REAL CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN!
    In 2010 get them ALL out that voted for ANYTHING this administration has put forth. WE DON’T NEED MORE LAWS!! It’s time to STOP making NEW LAWS. We’ve become a clusterFukk of LAWS already. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!! They label you a racist for speaking against the usurper in chief? Then WEAR THAT LABEL WITH PRIDE. My Confederate battle flag will arrive anyday now and I plan on flying it HIGH. To Hell with Political Correctness!! It’s INSANITY.

  10. 10
    Randall Covey Says:

    Why have I not heard about this?

    In reply to Richard Darby;
    Any Administration that could give us the Patriot Act can be counted on to commit further crimes against the Constitution.

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