From the article:
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.
I only point the following out to demonstrate that I don't think we are getting the full story here.
If the AR15 did in fact have certain M16 internals, the gun could very well be considered a machine gun. If the AR15 had been fitted with an M16 disconnector, trigger and hammer (especially if it had an M16 sear on the trigger) it could function like an AR15 if the other select fire components were absent. Anyone who has built an AR15 knows that many M16 internals would turn their build into a machine gun, even though it is only capable of semi-auto fire (exception would be on parts ATF has said can be used such as M16 bolts and bolt carriers). Getting the gun to fire full-auto again was just another piece of probable cause that ATF was adding to prove their case.
The standard of beyond a reasonable doubt still holds true here, and if the gun were an unmodified rifle from a manufacturer, I doubt that there would have been a conviction. I am inclined to think that M16 parts were knowingly put in the gun, probably not to commit a crime but rather to save $35 on a new CMT parts kit. Kind of crummy, but we all know that messing with the NFA is a quit way to get in trouble, and this situation is proof of that.
Then again, the guy could be completely innocent, and the jury was confused by the technical aspects of the case.
"Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God!-I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"
- Patrick Henry Mar 23, 1775