How You Can Become A
“If you pull the trigger once and it fires more than one round, no matter what the cause it’s a machine gun.”
At 2:15 PM on January 8 of this year, the Milwaukee jury in the trial of United States vs. David R. Olofson convened. Forty minutes later they emerged, returning a unanimous verdict against the veteran and National Guardsman: “Guilty.”
Olofson, you see, had loaned one of his rifles, and it malfunctioned at a range, firing off short bursts before jamming. This was called to the attention of local authorities who seized the rifle, an Olympic Arms AR-15. They in turn called BATFE, who decided to make a federal case out of it, charging Olofson with illegally transferring a machinegun.
Enter Len Savage (See “Failing the Test,” July 2005), President of Historic Arms, LLC, brought in by Olofson’s defense to testify the automatic fire was not by design or intent, but rather by mechanical failure, and that the firearm in question was simply a semiautomatic rifle that needed to be repaired.
The opposition would have none of that. Savage was not permitted to personally examine the rifle — not even to touch it. He was required to observe as the ATF officer opened it for inspection. His professional credentials were challenged by the prosecution, who wanted his testimony excluded, even though Savage is a firearm designer by profession, and the government’s expert witness received all of his training in the 2-1/2 years he’d been with the bureau. Then the prosecution reneged on its pledge not to sequester witnesses, and had Savage removed from the courtroom so he could not hear the government’s testimony.
So in the end, it didn’t matter this was merely a case of a “hammer follow.”
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 or sear, that it did not show any signs of machining or drilling, or that that model had even been recalled a few years back.
It didn’t matter that, when asked if he’d test fired the gun, Savage testified “From my examination and from what I saw on the [ATF test] video I wouldn’t want to attempt it … the video shows the guy who was shooting it was so afraid to fire it from the shoulder he had to hold it out in front of him. So he knew it was dangerous.”
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.
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.
Think about if your semiauto ever malfunctions. Because that’s how close you could be to becoming a convicted “gun felon.”