Drill Instructor Arrested
Because His Rifle Malfunctioned
By James Donahue
While we are on the subject
of oppressive police actions, we must include the case of David Olofson, a drill instructor in the National Guard, who was
convicted in a Wisconsin
federal court of illegally transferring a machine gun.
It seems that Olofson
loaned his Olympic Arms AR-15, a 20-year-old semi-automatic rifle, to be used on a Wisconsin
firing range. When it was in use, the rifle fired two separate rounds with multiple shots and jammed each time.
There can sometimes be
a thin line between a semi-automatic weapon, which can be fired from a clip by consistent draws on the trigger, and an automatic
weapon, that fires many rounds of shots on one draw of the trigger. It is said that many semi-automatic guns and easily be
converted into automatic weapons.
The semi-automatic rifle
is legal while the automatic rifle, classified as a machine gun, is not.
argued in court that the AR-15 has had a history of malfunctioning, and jumping from semi-automatic to automatic type firing.
In fact the manufacturer once issued a recall on this weapon so this problem could be dealt with.
When the weapon misfired
on the shooting range, a couple of police officers who were also at the range approached him and asked questions about the
“automatic” fire. The youth told them it was a borrowed weapon.
Olofson later went to
the police station to report the incident. He explained that he was in the National Guard and knew what machine guns looked
like, and made it clear that his rifle was not a machine gun. Instead of being understanding, police seized the rifle and
sent it to the Firearm Technology Branch, the testing arm of the ATF.
are trying hard to get him a new trial since the judge in this case refused to allow key evidence, namely the recall letter
from the manufacturer, to be entered in his defense.
The man is facing a possible
sentence of from 18 months to six years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
The case is sending shock
waves through the nation’s community of gun owners, gun clubs and especially the National Rifle Association. It appears
that the AR-15 is not the only semi-automatic rifle known to have misfired in this way.
Rifle enthusiasts now
worry that if their weapon misfires the way Olofson’s did, they may also be subject to arrest, imprisonment and fines,
just for visiting a rifle range. They worry that the Olofson case is a government challenge to Second Amendment rights.