Warehouse D
Second Amendment Issue
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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.


Olofson’s lawyer 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.


Olofson’s lawyers 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.