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The Olofson Thing

In honor of this, I have upgraded to a life membership in the NRA (well, and because they were offering it for half price at the Annual Meeting).  I have blogged little about the Olofson case.  I knew my views on this were going to piss a lot of people off, because while I think it represents the ATF at its worst, it also represents our side at its worst as well.  Everyone needs to read the entire thread on AR-15.com.  Olofson is Bladerunner2347.  Some comments:

  • When served with a federal search warrant, the smart thing to do is shut up and get a good lawyer.  Posting about your case for the world to see is not a wise idea when the federales come knocking down your door.
  • It’s rarely a winning strategy to represent yourself, and using a disbarred lawyer to help you doesn’t sound like one either.  This is probably a big reason why NRA didn’t get involved.  Most competent attorneys who practice gun law are able to get that kind of help, but NRA has to be asked.
  • Ignoring advice of real lawyers who say a legal argument that challenges jurisdiction of the federal argument to charge you won’t do anything except piss off the judge strikes me as a bad idea as well.
  • The kid he lent the AR to made a sworn statement that Olafson had told him not to move the selector into the unmarked burst mode setting because it was missing “some type of thing.”  That type of thing would likely be a drop in auto sear.
  • Why would you lend an AR that has been partially converted to someone, when you can probably bet they are going to actually try pushing the selector past fire?
  • Olofson’s AR contained numerous M16 parts.  As far as I know, some manufacturers in the 70s and 80s used some M16 parts in their AR-15s, like bolt carriers and hammers, until the ATF issued a ruling that the practice be stopped.  Olofson’s AR had an M16 trigger, disconnector, selector, and hammer.  As far as I know, there weren’t any manufacturers that used this many M16 parts in their ARs.  The agent who examined the parts, correctly in my view, stated that this did not constitute a machine gun, but ATF has long held M16 parts in an AR to be a no no.
  • Implying that the ATF broke into your house and planted evidence is not going to work with a jury unless you have other evidence to back this up.  Admitting you disposed of evidence doesn’t seem like a good idea either, especially when the evidence in question was the one part in question that would make the AR a fully working machine gun.

This isn’t to say the ATF have been angels in this case.  Most of the criticisms I’ve seen leveled at ATF have been on the money.  ATF pretty clearly deserves to be raked over the coals for:

  • Not having any standardized testing procedures for determining if a firearm is a machine gun.
  • Not having any standard for determining if the requesite parts in possession constitute “readily convertible”
  • Not allowing the defense access to evidence against them so that it may be examined by their own experts.
  • The ruling that any M16 parts constitute a machine gun is bogus, and deserves to be rebuked in court.  ATF should have the burden to prove that the arm, or combination of parts in question, is a functioning machine gun, or can be readily made into a functioning machine gun.  Basically, if they didn’t find the auto-sear, they shouldn’t have a case.

If you’re going to challenge the ATF on these matters, you need to have competent legal counsel that’s experienced in firearms laws.  It is not the time to play legal expert.  If you lose your case, you’re not just hurting yourself, you’re hurting every gun owner out there, because now ATF has winning precedent they can use to screw everybody else.

I don’t blame NRA for not getting involved in this case, because a) they were never asked, and b) the case is a bloody mess, with a poor defendant and a poor circumstances.  The case was very likely from the get go to result in a loss that would actually harm gun owners, rather than help them.  That’s why I get pissy when guys like this do stupid shit that gets them in trouble and then pile more stupid shit on top of that when they get caught and go to trial.  If we’re going to challenge them in court, we have to have our A game on, and I don’t see any evidence that this was the case here.

That said, I believe Americans have a right to own an M16, and I don’t think the public safety is enhanced one iota by putting Mr. Olofson in prison.  But ATF went ahead with this, and it won.  Now some are turning it into one more reason to bash the NRA.  Sorry, but you don’t get to douse yourself with gasoline, light yourself on fire, and then run around bitching that no one is helping you put out the fire.  I call bullshit on that one.  We have to choose our battles carefully, and this isn’t a case I’d want to use to challenge ATF.

56 Responses to “The Olofson Thing”

  1. SayUncle says:

    ‘because they were offering it for half price at the Annual Meeting’

    they were? Dammit.

  2. Bitter says:

    I posted it on Twitter. :)

  3. SayUncle says:

    I don’t twitter

  4. The Olofson case could have been a good case, but they made some bad moves that turned the NRA off to the case (one of the bad moves was failing to ask the NRA for help in the first place.) The thing is, the case has actually gotten positive mainstream press… that makes the case more important. There are ways to clean up a case that’s been handled poorly, but it takes a lot of effort. I understand why the NRA would be unwilling to get involved, but there is clearly more at stake here than one guy going to prison for having a “machinegun”.

  5. Mike Gallo says:

    IMHO discussion of any ATF misconduct, or apparent stupidity on the part of Mr. Olofson, is moot. The ruling states that any gun that fires more than one shot per trigger pull is a machinegun, malfunctioning status notwithstanding.

    That’s the dangerous part to me – I could be a felon because my WASR slamfires.

  6. Mike Gallo says:

    Oh, and incidentally, it infuriates me that this judge and jury were not given the basic understanding of fire control systems necessary to make good judgements in this case. As my dad (and attorney) always says to me: “never put your life in the hands of a judge or jury.” In that way, I think that you should use every procedural trick at your disposal to get a case dismissed, even if it seems trivial or upsets the judge.

  7. Noops says:

    “like bolt carriers and hammers, until the ATF issued a ruling that the practice be stopped. ”

    I’m not sure of your level of expertise with the platform, but this is essentially incorrect. Full Auto Bolt Carrier groups are emphatically NOT illegal.

    In fact, Colt 6920, 6520, 6721 semi-auto rifles all ship with full-auto carriers. Other brands do the same. Colt even published a letter regarding this issue that was a somewhat wishy-washy response from the BATFE. The letter basically says, “If the part causes the firearm to shoot automatically, then you’re toast. If not, you’re fine.” Because of that, the carriers are good to go.

    The lower receiver fire control parts ARE illegal.

  8. Sanchez aka "Jack of All Trades" says:

    “ATF just hit my house again. Tried scaring everyone into submission claiming I had to turn over all my guns to them that they don’t know about. No court order in hand for that of course.”

    For some reason this smells funny to me.

  9. Voolfie says:

    Doesn’t appear there are any good guys in this scenario. Take one idiot, add one overzealous agency anxious to prove worthy of its government funding and you have the recipe for a classic shit sandwich. Nevertheless, the ATF could have just whacked this guy’s pee-pee and avoided having people like me mad at them as I worry about who’s looking the next time my O/U doubles on me. Oh, well.

  10. Matt says:

    If the ruling sets precedent by loosening the definition of a machine gun as one that fires more than one shot per pull of the trigger without the attendant language stating it had to manufactured or modified with that intent, we’re all screwed. If a standard semi-auto slamfiring due to worn parts without any modification is classed as a machine gun, pray none of us with an AK, AK or SKS ever cross paths with the ATF.

    Documented, written test and determination procedures from the ATF would go a long way towards giving them credibility and a playing field that everyone can fight upon. No need to hide behind “confidential tax information”. Just chuck the manual down and allow the defense to challenge it. Good procedures and technical information will withstand it. Bad or made-up ones will and should be shredded in court.

    It is the slamfiring issue that frightens me. I’ve had an SKS malfunction. Not a slamfire but still out of the ordinary. Are we all suddenly future felons now? I never thought shaking the bolt carrier to ensure a free floating firing pin would be the death knell of my freedom.

    Hopefully this is an aberration.

  11. Sebastian says:

    Matt,

    It’s definitely a problem. That’s why you don’t fuck around when the feds decide to throw shit like this at you. You lawyer up, get your ducks in a row, and win the case at all costs. Most of the stuff I’m seeing come out of this case is painful, in that it actively undermines winning.

  12. I should not hold my breath waiting for BATFE to change its procedures; nothing short of a significant nonzero probability of defunding will do it, and there’s no will in Congress for that.

    One may take issue with some of the elements surrounding this case, but in my view Mr. Olofson was railroaded, and properly should be seen as an object lesson _pour encourager les autres_. BATFE has just shown us — again — the lengths to which they’re willing to go.

  13. Matt says:

    Oldsmoblogger,

    What happened to blind and equal justice? Why should the ATF be permitted to substitute ultra-soft primers in a semi-auto rifle with a free-floating firing pin, causing it to slamfire, and be allowed to declared that a machine gun? If the Olofson ruling lowers the bar to that standard, duck and hide.

    God help the next unwitting new gun owner who takes his first SKS to a range for a test fire, pick up a couple boxes of commercial 7.62×39 and didn’t know the firing pin was free-floating and still caked in 50 year old cosmo. He pulls the trigger, “Bang! Bang! Bang!” and it happens to be his misfortune that a cop or federal agent is on the line and wanders over while the guy is still clearing his pants.

    Yes it might be defensible in court as a squeaky clean civilian. But with this ruling and someone normal without deep technical knowledge of their gun, that is poor compensation. He might win but at what cost? And is it fair? Is justice being served.

    You would expect an agency charged with enforcing gun laws to, you know, actually know something about the guns in question. And know the difference between a regular semi-auto with a malfunction and no sign of malfeasance and a Class III machine gun. Or do they just not care anymore and it is all about being the ATF, destroyers of armed America? I’m sure there are a number of good ATF agents but all it takes are a few bad ones and the rest of the good ones to do nothing to wind up destroying us all through unaccountable regulation, secrecy, agency credibility in the eyes of the Court and the unlimited power of the Federal purse.

    I’m not comfortable today being a gun owner with several of the rifles in question. Perhaps I know too much. Perhaps I could succeed in challenging the ATF on their own turf. But at what cost? I’ll be free, sure, but poor as a church mouse, the guns they didn’t take long sold to pay my fees to prove I wasn’t a criminal. A criminal they simply said I was with nothing written down to back it up but their word.

    That’s scary. And there are those in the world that would applaud their actions as being just and right against an uppity armed citizenry daring to declare themselves free men and women.

  14. Tom says:

    Have YOU examined the gun, before ATFU got their paws on it, or before this guy got HIS hands on it? If he’s so guilty then why did the ONLY go after him for transferring?

    To think that ATFU wouldn’t go ahead and make a giant public case if Olofson was making machine guns (like Fincher), well you’re wrong. This was just a case to establish that malfunctions are machine guns. You know damn well they would have strung him up for as long as they could, and the jury of ignorant who didn’t get the truth would have happily went along with it.

    To think the No Rights Anymore would do anything for the guy except get him hung faster is comedic.

  15. Sorry, Matt–those are the points _I_ was trying to make. :-D

    BATFE shouldn’t be permitted to do _any_ of the things you mention (among others). Yet — according to all evidence — there is no will further up the chain at Justice, nor in Congress, to make them stop. Why do they need credibility? From their own point of view (and those of their political masters), they’re doing just fine as is. These things aren’t bugs, they’re _features_.

    “I’m not comfortable today being a gun owner with several of the rifles in question.”

    They have gotten the effect they have set out to get, then (not that I blame you, Matt).

    So _now_ what?

    And as for this being a “bad case:” with all due respect, well. One guy is an idiot, another adheres to interesting legal theories, yet another is a separatist, etc., etc. I’m sure there were plenty of people who didn’t have much use for Tom Paine or Sam Adams either, and John Adams was “obnoxious and disliked.” ;-)

    “First they came for the Sovereigns, and I said nothing because I was not a Sovereign.”

  16. Sebastian says:

    They went after transferring because i wasn’t in Olofson’s possession, which made going after a case based on the transfer easier than one based on mere possession. I would have thought the fact that the rifle wasn’t in Olofson’s physical possession when it was discovered would have explained why they went for a transfer case.

  17. Kevin Baker says:

    Sebastian, I concur with your characterization of Olofson and his actions. Yes, he was one of our own worst enemies (and his own). I discussed this briefly with Dave Kopel and Bob Cottrel at the Bass Pro get-together, and my position is that Olofson was convicted for “Contempt of Cop.” Both of them – while making your points – generally agreed. Olofson waved his private parts at the BATF (and the Court) and was smacked down for it.

    And now we have precedent that a malfunctioning semi-automatic weapon is a machine gun.

    And no matter what, that is not right. And it illustrates that we have not a justice system, but a legal system.

  18. Sebastian says:

    I don’t disagree. The end result of this is not good for us at all, and undoing the damage is probably going to mean people go to jail until ATF tries this with someone and gets smacked down.

  19. Jim W says:

    Thanks for posting this. When I first heard about this case, none of the facts made sense. I figured either the trial court judge was a complete idiot or that there were a ton of facts we hadn’t been told.

    It is beginning to sound more and more like a case of stupid defendant syndrome.

  20. Ride Fast says:

    […] The Olofson Case […]

  21. BC says:

    Situations like this always bring out the armchair attorneys, who pontificate loud and long about the law, and urge the rest of us to “check the caselaw,” despite not having a day of formal legal education.

    Here’s the case, in a nutshell: the defendant was a moron. Usually that’s not a crime. This time, it was.

  22. countertop says:

    I’m not commenting on anything other than this notion that somehow this case creates any sort of precedent. It doesn’t. Its merely a trial court decision based upon the facts at hand as presented to the court.

    If its appealed, then we run into trouble. But as long as it remains a trial court decision, there is no real long term legal value (or detriment) from it.

    Oh, one other thing, David Codrea’s post attacking the NRA and individual staffers is one of the most over the top pieces of defamtory bullshit I’ve ever seen on the internet and if I was the NRA or said staffer (who really is good guy), I’d sue his ass to china and back.

  23. countertop says:

    One more thing,

    what the deal with idiots on the interweb and gun boards thinking its smart to post all the details for all the world to see every time they do something thats gonna get them thrown in jail???

    I’ve seen it dozens of times on Glock Talk and The Firing Line and AR15.com and The High Road. Just don’t get it (really, I don’t get Glock Talk anymore at all – but thats another story)

  24. brasidas says:

    I don’t think this case establishes that a malfunctioning gun automatically results in a conviction. The jury instructions stated that the defendant had to have transferred a firearm he knew fired full-auto. The plaintiff presented evidenced that this was the case and the defendnt did not rebut it.

    The Supreme Court (via Justice Thomas, blessed be his name) held in Staples v. US that the defendant has to know that he has a machinegun to be convicted, and quoted with approval a 5th Circuit case which stated that it was unthinkable that the statute would cover a gun that was going full-auto becuase it is worn out.

    Olofson’s problem was that he knew the gun fired full auto when he loaned it out, or at least the government bullied the witnesses into giving that testimomy. And Olofson presented no evidence to the contrary.

  25. David Codrea says:

    Why Countertop–how nice to see you actually take a no-compromise stand on something! It’s so unlike you.

  26. Kevin P. says:

    Staples v. US is here (majority opinion by Justice Thomas):
    http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/92-1441.ZO.html

    Excerpt:

    The Government does not dispute the contention that virtually any semiautomatic weapon may be converted, either by internal modification or, in some cases, simply by wear and tear, into a machinegun within the meaning of the Act. Cf. United States v. Anderson, 885 F. 2d 1248, 1251, 1253-1254 (CA5 1989) (en banc). Such a gun may give no externally visible indication that it is fully automatic. See United States v. Herbert, 698 F. 2d 981, 986 (CA9), cert. denied, 464 U.S. 821 (1983). But in the Government’s view, any person who has purchased what he believes to be a semiautomatic rifle or handgun, or who simply has inherited a gun from a relative and left it untouched in an attic or basement, can be subject to imprisonment, despite absolute ignorance of the gun’s firing capabilities, if the gun turns out to be an automatic.

    We concur in the Fifth Circuit’s conclusion on this point: “It is unthinkable to us that Congress intended to subject such law abiding, well intentioned citizens to a possible ten year term of imprisonment if . . . what they genuinely and reasonably believed was a conventional semiautomatic [weapon] turns out to have worn down into or been secretly modified to be a fully automatic weapon.”

  27. deadcenter says:

    after reading the transcript, there’s alot that wasn’t stated in the ar15 forum.

    the money quote though, “Any weapon which shoots, is
    designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot,
    automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a
    single function of the trigger.” being interpreted to apply to a malfunctioning semi-automatic firearm is going to be a nightmare.

    dc

  28. EvilGunLobby says:

    Why Countertop–how nice to see you actually take a no-compromise stand on something!

    How’d that work out for you in Cali?

  29. David Codrea says:

    For me personally, just fine. Thanks for asking. I didn’t need to change one thing.

  30. dustydog says:

    It’s a gun, it’s a machine, it must be a machine gun. Why would the govt need a test for that?

    “Any weapon which shoots, is
    designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot,
    automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a
    single function of the trigger.” – Give it 3 years and all shotguns will be designated as fitting this definition. Bows too, given that Robin Hood could shoot two arrows at once.

  31. Xrlq says:

    Regarding precedents, I’d like to echo what Countertop said. Lower court decisions bind the parties only; in effect, they state “the law of the case” and nothing more. Let’s hope and pray this turkey doesn’t get appealed, but if it does, we need the best firearms lawyers around to get involved.

  32. David Olofson says:

    I’ve been pretty busy lately so I have not been doing much in the way of posting corrections, but it was whispered that it was important to keep the facts straight here. I personally was hoping with all the information I put out there it would help keep the mythology to a minimum. I see in this case you have fallen for some of the hearsay out there.

    • “When served with a federal search warrant, the smart thing to do is shut up and get a good lawyer. Posting about your case for the world to see is not a wise idea when the federales come knocking down your door. “
    That is the prevailing wisdom of attorneys. I take a differing viewpoint in situation like I find myself in. That is when you are innocent of any crime people will not know of the injustice unless you put information out there. If I had not keep people up to date on a day by day basis you would not know of this now. What good does it do Americans if they don’t know what their government is doing?
    • “It’s rarely a winning strategy to represent yourself, and using a disbarred lawyer to help you doesn’t sound like one either. This is probably a big reason why NRA didn’t get involved. Most competent attorneys who practice gun law are able to get that kind of help, but NRA has to be asked. “
    You will not find anywhere that in THIS case I represented myself. Nor did I ever hire or use a disbarred attorney. What did transpire is my first attorney got removed from federal practice (State practice was allowed to my understanding) over what the first judge in this case (Stadmuller (Ph)) called gross incompetence in missing filing dates and the like. As for the NRA they have been invited in and according to my current attorneys have accepted. They are not alone in this as other organizations are helping out as well, to include the second amendment sisters, the GOA, LEAA, and JPFO.
    • “Ignoring advice of real lawyers who say a legal argument that challenges jurisdiction of the federal argument to charge you won’t do anything except piss off the judge strikes me as a bad idea as well. “
    The jurisdictional challenges of interstate commerce were not issued in this case at any point.
    • “The kid he lent the AR to made a sworn statement that Olofson had told him not to move the selector into the unmarked burst mode setting because it was missing “some type of thing.” That type of thing would likely be a drop in auto sear. “
    While that could be inferred it is untrue. Check the affidavits I posted, they tell a much more detailed story. Also I don’t believe this weapon would take a DIAS, but having never tried it can’t say for sure; maybe Len Savage got a good enough look at it to make that determination.
    • “Why would you lend an AR that has been partially converted to someone, when you can probably bet they are going to actually try pushing the selector past fire? “
    You wouldn’t. I didn’t either.
    • “Olofson’s AR contained numerous M16 parts. As far as I know, some manufacturers in the 70s and 80s used some M16 parts in their AR-15s, like bolt carriers and hammers, until the ATF issued a ruling that the practice be stopped. Olofson’s AR had an M16 trigger, disconnector, selector, and hammer. As far as I know, there weren’t any manufacturers that used this many M16 parts in their ARs. The agent who examined the parts, correctly in my view, stated that this did not constitute a machine gun, but ATF has long held M16 parts in an AR to be a no no. “
    If you review trial transcripts you will find they were made that way. For ease of reference I’ll post some of the transcripts here.
    Testimony of ATF Agent Max Kingery:
    Q. In your training and experience as an expert on AR-15 weapons, you’re aware, of course, that many AR-15 weapons, especially those manufactured in the ’80s, were manufactured with some M-16 internal parts?
    A. I’m aware that some were, yes.

    Q. Did you ever contact SGW/Olympic Arms about this particular rifle?
    A. No, sir, I did not.
    Q. Are you aware that SGW has recalled this particular rifle?
    A. No, sir.
    RECROSS-EXAMINATION
    BY MR. FAHL:
    Q. Now, going to Mr. Haanstad’s questions about firing three rounds and jamming. Why would somebody design a gun to fire three rounds and then jam, have to eject the bolt, start all over, fire three rounds, jam, and do that?
    A. They would not do so, sir.
    Questioning of Len Savage:
    Q. And which fire control components would be used generally
    when manufacturing this type of rifle?
    A. When that particular firearm was manufactured in the serial
    number range?
    Q. Yes.
    A. They would have used an M-16 trigger, disconnector, hammer.
    Sometimes a selector, sometimes not.
    Q. And when you did your visual inspection what did that
    reveal?
    A.That it was standard for the firearm that was built in that era.
    It also revealed that it had an AR-15 bolt carrier, not an M-16 bolt carrier.

    • “Implying that the ATF broke into your house and planted evidence is not going to work with a jury unless you have other evidence to back this up. Admitting you disposed of evidence doesn’t seem like a good idea either, especially when the evidence in question was the one part in question that would make the AR a fully working machine gun. “
    I myself did not say they did. But I find there are some interesting coincidences.

    “I don’t blame NRA for not getting involved in this case, because
    a) they were never asked, and
    b) the case is a bloody mess, with a poor defendant and a poor circumstances. “

    I believe A was already addressed, as for b I couldn’t agree more.

    “We have to choose our battles carefully, and this isn’t a case I’d want to use to challenge ATF.”
    I for one plan on pursuing this to the ends of the earth, and not just for my own benefit. If you continue to let evil go on its merry way what reason do you ever give it to change? Your personal opinion of me aside; do you really think we can afford to let a ruling that makes all guns MG’s in the eyes of the law stand?

    Hope this clears up you misconceptions of the case. Please read the postings on arfcom for details and follow my posts to avoid the hearsay.

  33. Mike Vanderboegh says:

    SayUncle sez:

    […] That pretty much nails. A few of us have been having that conversation off line for a while now. Partially due to uncertainty and because, frankly, that view would piss off a lot of pro-gun people. But Olofson f-cked up and could have f-cked us in the process. That doesn’t make ATF any less culpable for basically cheating to win. […]

    I’ve got a question: do you spaghetti-spined cheesed-cks have ANY principles you’re willing to risk ANYTHING for? A guy gets screwed blued and tattoed for having a weapon that accidentally went unsafely stuttering — something that if you ever handled semiauto rifles at all for any length of time you know happens frequently — and ALL you worry about is what effect its going to have on you if he APPEALS?!? What sorry cowardly pukes you are. And my real name is Mike Vanderboegh. My real address is 6635 Womack Road, Pinson AL 35126. Just in case any of you brave weenies want to look me up.

  34. SayUncle says:

    Wow. Threats of violence and name calling. Maybe they’re right. We shouldn’t have guns. Seriously, take a nice big gulp of cool your shit juice.

    You cannot read the evidence presented by Mr. Olofson himself and not conclude that he has been entirely forthright. I’m not excusing ATF by any means. But if you poke the powers that be with a stick, they poke back. And with a bigger stick.

    And how did you get the impression that was all i worried about? Olofson’s going to jail. And the ATF railroaded him. And that sucks. But his means of presenting his case could have backfired on everyone.

  35. David Olofson says:

    Time will tell if I have to go or not, it has not yet been decided by the appellate court. And no not everything has been disclosed, as forthright as I am there are some things the attorneys are adamant that must not be disclosed until this is completed. I will ask you this tough, have you ever known anyone to be so open about a case as I have? Yes the powers that be get upset when challenged, but as Americans we should always challenge those who claim power over us to find out if in fact they have real de jure status, or just de facto with a gun to your head. But we should all remain calm about the problems this country has. Divided we accomplish nothing but failure. And I believe we have been failing well over the last nearly 100 years. We must all decide to be either mice or men. I made my choice a long time ago knowing all the kings men would be unhappy about it. After all in today’s society you are only supposed to think you have rights, not actually exorcise them. But if someone doesn’t do something where do we go but further down the slippery slope to tyranny? I will continue to make my stand, everyone else needs to simply decide to stand up or sit down. Lead, follow, or get out of the way as it is said. Everyone here has similar interests, will we let are differences divide us, or our beliefs and heritage hold us together?

  36. Sebastian says:

    And no not everything has been disclosed, as forthright as I am there are some things the attorneys are adamant that must not be disclosed until this is completed.

    That’s good. No one here wants to see you in jail. There is no justice that will be served by that. But it’s often said we don’t have a justice system, we have a legal system. I don’t think anyone here is suggesting the ATF doesn’t need a spanking, but step one in that is to make them lose in court, and I’m glad you’ve found some good legal counsel to that end.

  37. SayUncle says:

    ‘And no not everything has been disclosed, as forthright as I am there are some things the attorneys are adamant that must not be disclosed until this is completed.’

    And that may well be the bit of info that relieve my concerns. But as it stands, I hope you understand I have my doubts.

    ‘Divided we accomplish nothing but failure.’

    I concur. But why is the SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED crowd so intent on throwing those who criticize their method under the bus?

  38. David Olofson says:

    I don’t think anyone here is suggesting the ATF doesn’t need a spanking, but step one in that is to make them lose in court, and I’m glad you’ve found some good legal counsel to that end.

    Try as my 3rd attorney did I think he was just in a bit over his head. We did try to get him up to speed on gun issues and law but I’m afraid it was too little too lat. Now we have one heck of a mess and it’s going to take a whole team of top notch attorneys who know the issues inside and out to clean it up. I’m defiantly happy to have the propper help. Now we should be able to make some lemonade out of this.

  39. David Olofson says:

    And that may well be the bit of info that relieve my concerns. But as it stands, I hope you understand I have my doubts.

    I have no problem with people’s doubts. Any defendant should be looked at as having very good reason to be dishonest. But I’m sure you will agree that the ATFs history shows they are willing to do worse, and the one witness against me has little credibility as a 9th grade dropout who was trying to avoid a possession charge, had multiple versions of events, and got paid to boot. That’s why I’m putting up the other affidavits. See what the others involved in this say and draw your own conclusion, no one needs me to lead them down any particular path.

    I concur. But why is the SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED crowd so intent on throwing those who criticize their method under the bus?

    I personally hope they are not. We all have our differences, but when our rights are in danger we should concentrate on our similarities. That is how I would prefer to be defined.

  40. Ahab says:

    something that if you ever handled semiauto rifles at all for any length of time you know happens frequently

    I’ve been handling semi-auto rifles and pistols for the last 17 years, and I’ve only seen one gun slamfire – a CZ 52 pistol in 7.62 Tokarev (or whatever you call that funky .30 caliber pistol round).

    I’m not saying that my personal anecdotal experience should be taken as the be-all-and-end all, but accidental slamfires on weapons that aren’t modified are pretty rare. In my experience.

  41. David Olofson says:

    I’ve seen a few, but not many. None on a CZ52. Bu I do have a friend who was at the range the same time I was who had a CZ52 discharge while trying to engage t safety. Sent a round through his minivan. Scared the crap out of a lot of folks.

  42. Sebastian says:

    I’ve seen it happen to M1 garands.

  43. Mike Vanderboegh says:

    “But if you poke the powers that be with a stick, they poke back. And with a bigger stick.”

    What stick did he poke the ATF with? That he had political opinions prior to the incident? Seems to me Olofson answered the other factual “concerns” of you cheesers. Are you saying that it’s his fault he held politically incorrect opinions AND firearms so you don’t blame the gun gestapo for singling him out? And in any case, your comment merely reflects your cowardice. I’VE been poking the ATF on issues big and small for 15 years and I’m still here, spitting in their bureaucratic eye. Only someone with a faint heart and fainter principles worries about their opponent’s “bigger stick.” Worry rather about right and wrong, constitutional and unconstitutional, good and evil. For pity’s sake, they’re BUREAUCRATS fer cryin’ out loud. They are ignorant, arrogant and armed but they want to live to draw a pension. Its guys like you, with your “lions, and tigers and bears, oh my” attitude who encourage their depredations. — Mike Vanderboegh

  44. SayUncle says:

    Why do you act as though i’m defending atf?

    I poke them with a stick all the time. In fact, I have a website for that. What I don’t do is get real fast and loose with the rules.

    And they’ve been to my house, sparky. They paid you a visit over shit you said on the internet?

  45. Sebastian says:

    They are ignorant, arrogant and armed but they want to live to draw a pension. Its guys like you, with your “lions, and tigers and bears, oh my” attitude who encourage their depredations

    So you’re suggesting if we threaten to kill them, they will back off? Sorry, I’m not willing to cross that Rubicon at this point in time. I think 99% of pro-gun activists are with me on that one.

  46. Matt says:

    I am not encouraging nor defending any depredations of the BATFE. I think what I and most gun owners want out of them is consistency.

    The fact the BATFE Technical Branch can say or do whatever it wants and have legitimacy or enhanced credibility over a defendant (especially a knowledgable one) solely on the basis of who they are is wrong. We have the right to challenge our accusers of wrongdoing on the basis of facts. It seems to me in many cases, the BATFE gets to dictate facts and leave no room for anyone to say otherwise. And in some cases, get the judge to help them.

    What I want is for them to simply have a set of published, consistent rules. In this case, documents from the Technical Branch that says what a legal M-16 pattern machine gun looks like with details on its internal configuration versus that of an AR-15 semi-auto. A reasonable person should be able to look at the descriptions and diagrams of each within and make a determination as to whether gun X fits the criteria. If an AR-15 is modified to shoot full-auto, the differences between it at the AR-15 standard should be immediately obvious and a technical expert from either side (prosecution or defense) should be able to explain why. Objective, factual, clearly specified information. And differentiate between mechanical malfunction within the firearm and induced malfunction (e.g. deliberate use of soft primered ammo that is generating a malfunction versus a deliberately engineered one)

    What the BATFE should NOT be doing is trying to manufacture evidence. The fact that they modify a gun they are supposed to be testing to determine if it is a machine gun should automatically disqualify the gun as evidence since it has been tampered with. In any other court, the prosecution is not permitted to do that. They have to prove their case on the basis of what is in front of them and no more. They can’t go and remove or modify something to fit whatever theory or outcome they’d like. It seems the BATFE is trying to prove a positive even if it means making it happen.

    Such procedures, proper chain-of-evidence, along with a requirement to videotape testing, benefits everyone. What it seems like now is the BATFE can make it up as it goes along and no one can do anything about it. If someone is in the wrong with the details of how they will be prosecuted in the clear (isn’t that what is supposed to happen anyway?) then they are in the wrong. Moving the goalposts to make them fit is not right. It isn’t fair, it isn’t blind and it certainly isn’t justice. I’d also argue it isn’t legal.

    We aren’t dealing with squishy, subjective issues here. We’re dealing with whether a mechnical object fits a given set of criteria based on its form and function. These should not be subject to interpretation of “he said, she said”. Because it went “bang!” twice should not be the sole definition of a machine gun because someone says so and then doesn’t allow you to challenge them in creating reasonable doubt. There’s a big difference between a stuck firing pin due to fouling versus deliberately machining channels in an AR-15 lower to accept full-auto components. And nor should the ATF be allowed to do that machining on their part to prove after the fact that you had a machine gun by making it for you.

    As a gun owner, I want to be able to look at or order a government document that says, “United States Machine Gun Technical Guidelines and Testing Procedures” and just head down the list. That way, if they do come to my door after a range trip because my AR happened to have doubled, I can challenge their assertions of illegal possession of machine gun on a level playing field.

    Isn’t the way it is supposed to be? Or am I supposed to hold my hat in my hand, submit meekly and pray that I never cross paths with them? I just want to obey the law and be left alone. I want reasonableness for honest mistakes and I want punishment for actions that intentional against the law. A worn disconnector should not be the same thing as one filed down. Otherwise, we’re all doomed.

    Just my (probably misunderstood) thoughts on the subject.

  47. David Olofson says:

    I think we’re all with you on wanting that. Its bad enough I have to go through this, like so many others have before me because the ATF is allowed to change their testing procedures and modify weapons to make the weapon of anyone they don’t like fail. We need it fixed so none else is trapped by there contradictory rulings.

  48. Mike Vanderboegh says:

    Sez I: “They are ignorant, arrogant and armed but they want to live to draw a pension. Its guys like you, with your ‘lions, and tigers and bears, oh my’ attitude who encourage their depredations.”

    Sez you: “So you’re suggesting if we threaten to kill them, they will back off? Sorry, I’m not willing to cross that Rubicon at this point in time. I think 99% of pro-gun activists are with me on that one.”

    Oh, you are certainly correct about “with me on that one.” Freedom has ever been defended by a tiny yet determined minority. I have never suggested that “we threaten to kill them.” But the code I have always written of, and lived my life by, is that of a free man — I will not be arrested by people who have shown that they operate a criminal enterprise under color of law. If I tell them, as I have, that I have broken no law so I will not be arrested, they may take whatever uncertainty in their own minds as that may be regarding their own safety in accomplishing my demise. I have no need to spell it out. I DO have need to raise the spectre, so that they understand the Law of Unintended Consequences is in effect before they violate it. All of criminal deterrence, private assault or governmental tyranny, is based on the creation of such uncertainty.

    If the ATF violates the law as they have repeatedly in the Olofson case, why then have they not done it to everyone at once? Law does not restrain them — No rule or court order. They act with impunity, bureaucratically speaking. What congress will hold a hearing now? Who will cut off their funding? Who will discipline them? But you stay safe, for now, because other rough men are willing to risk doing defensive violence on your behalf, to paraphrase Orwell. Because THEY fear the consequences, the UNINTENDED consequences, of catching one of US on a bad day.

    Back in the 90s, my good friend Bob Wright of the 1st Brigade New Mexico Militia was asked by his FBI SAC if he would really go to the aid of some future Waco-like victim in another state. He retorted, “Why would I want to do that? There’s plenty of you federal SOBs around here.” I had similar conversations here in Alabama. This was a perspective the Fibbies had not considered. Did they try to use weak-minded fools to entrap us, to set us up, on Class 3 and DD raps? Yes, more than once. Did they try to get in our faces and intimidate us? Yes, more than once. Did they visit my house, as they did to scare poor old anonymous (and apyly named) “sayUncle”? They didn’t dare. Because I told them in advance, in public, what MY “rules of engagement” were. The uncertainty in their own minds did the rest.

    Now they are in a lose-lose situation. They cannot frame me without killing me, and to do so would merely guarantee that EVERYTHING I’ve ever written would get read by a much larger audience. If they do nothing about me pointing out that not only is their a merely a man behind their curtain, but he lacks both clothes and cojones, they look ridiculous and impotent. Read some of what I have written:

    What Good Can a Handgun do Against an Army?

    “Kill all they send . . ”

    The Window War

    Untouchable

    Absolved

    and especially the recent “Resistance.”

    I have given them abundant reason to come after me and still they do not. Why? Because I have given them equally abundant cause to fear that they might be busted by the Law of Unintended Consequences. As the Olofson case demonstrates, it is the only law which still obtains in this country. And your worried about them coming to your house? Oooooooh….

    If I may, let me suggest a line from the movie Silverado that applies to y’all. The evil Sheriff is standing in the street, waiting for the final showdown. A townsman comes up to him and aska what’s happening. The Sheriff tells him, “Hide and watch.” This is good advice for you cheesers, who won’t even risk being associated with an innocent man. Hide and watch. But don’t try to kid yourselves or anybody else that you are “gun rights activists.” You don’t have the stones for it.

  49. Sean Young says:

    Mike, as always, inspiring thought.

    I believe this showdown between government and free men will happen in my lifetime. Does that mean that I am itching for a fight? No. I would rather it not come to that, but free men can only be pushed so far. Will I be ready? Not as ready as I need to be.

    I know, from your writings, that you are a history buff. I don’t think you have to be all that knowledgeable about history to see what is happening to this country. It is the exact same thing that has happened to almost every nation that has ever existed. Our nation has only been around for a short time and look at where we are. We have gone from a nation of free and proud men, to a state of complete government reliance and control. The level of government control is only going to go in one direction, until something snaps. It may be cases like Mr. Olofson’s that will determine if we still have the means to throw off the shackles of that oppressive government.

    Mr. Olofson I applaud you. You may not have made all the right choices, but I am happy to see you taking a stand. I am sure that you were offered a pretty good plea deal. Of course that would mean that you would most likely have to give up most of the rights a free man is granted by his creator.

    Am I a cheeser? I hope not. I can tell you that “Law of Unintended Consequences” enters my mind and brings a smile to my face nearly every time my family is out shooting. I guess we will have to wait and see.

  50. BC says:

    I kind of savor the irony of being called a spaghetti-spined cheese-dick by some random, testosterone-bloated assclown on the internet whose idea of courage is, evidently, telling the federales his “rules of engagement” and effectively daring them to come fuck with him. Yes, that’s real courage: puffing your chest on the Internet and pissing in the BATFE’s breakfast cereal, as if you’re a real-life Henry Bowman.

    Get a grip. They don’t bother you, not because they’re afraid of you, but because they think — correctly — that you’re a ridiculous waste of their time. If they ever are moved to crush you like an insect, this will not elevate you from your obscurity; it will only cement you in it.

    Progress in the real world is made by smart defendants using excellent lawyers to pursue and win clean claims. If you’re not part of that solution, you’re part of the problem. Quit being part of the fucking problem, you ignorant and arrogant shitbags.

  51. BC says:

    This is good advice for you cheesers, who won’t even risk being associated with an innocent man.

    Let me clear up your misconception.

    The reason I don’t want to be associated with David Olofson has nothing to do with his guilt or innocence, and everything to do with him being a stupid sonofabitch.

    This, incidentally, is the same reason I refuse to be associated with the Mike Vanderboeghs of the world.

  52. Sebastian says:

    Well, if believing there’s still room to promote gun rights through the political process, rather than through implied threats of violence against federal agents makes me a cheeser, I guess you can call me a proud cheeser. But here’s one thing. I am a gun rights activist. So are a lot of other people out there. Mike Vanderboegh is not the divine arbiter of what is and what isn’t a gun rights activist. I can turn the tables and also say if it weren’t for people fighting the fight through the political system, the federal government would have long ago destroyed anyone who dared resist the gun confiscation edicts.

    This has to be a broad movement, because if it were ever to come to having to violently resist the government, you’d need all your neighbors to join with you. Lone resistance is guaranteed to result in your destruction. You may die believing you’re a free man, but you will die. That’s your choice, and I wouldn’t deny you that. But to suggest that people who have decided that there is still time for a political solution are somehow impure and unworthy is unhelpful, and make the destruction of gun rights more probable. If our government is so out of control and so criminals as you suggest, why aren’t you starting the revolution now? If there’s still time for politics, it seems to be that crapping on the people fighting that fight is pretty disingenuous.

  53. jed says:

    I am not encouraging nor defending any depredations of the BATFE. I think what I and most gun owners want out of them is consistency.

    I just want them to go away.

  54. Peter says:

    The proper way to promote gun rights is through the courts, and political process, not armed resistance at this point. There may be a time when that becomes appropriate, this is not that time.

    In many, maybe even even most, regards BATFE is overstepping it’s bounds, and needs to be reigned in, but to think that the threat of whatever arsenal you possess is stopping the government from coming to get you if they wanted to is laughable, at best. Let’s face it, the government has the power to remove any lone person, or even a group any time they want. They have the guns, body armor, tear gas, flash grenades, and worse to come and get you. The preventative power of the second amendment is in the possibility of a mass uprising, not one person shooting it out with the feds.

    Furthermore, in your one man uprising, you will not die a martyr to more than a select group of people that are probably already on your side. While the Branch Davidians and Randy Weaver have those who support them, and are appalled by the actions of the government, neither of those incidents started an uprising, or even any widespread public outcry. If anything you will more likely be used as an example of why we need more gun control. And all those writings that will be released on the world? They will more likely than not be used to paint you as a paranoid nut, looking to shoot it out with the black helicopters.

    You can call us what you will, but legal activism, through the courts and through the political process, is still the best way to maintain and expand our rights. The day may come when we need to take up arms against a tyrannical government, but the fact that you can “[tell] them in advance, in public, what MY “rules of engagement” were.”” is proof that this is not the time. So please stop giving the anti-gun nuts more ammo, and trying to bait the government to come after you. This is only hurting our cause.

  55. David Olofson says:

    The reason I don’t want to be associated with David Olofson has nothing to do with his guilt or innocence, and everything to do with him being a stupid sonofabitch.

    While I respect everyone’s right to an opinion, in mine you’re off. If I’m guilty of anything its helping people get into the shooting sports and maintain there proficiency with shooting. That would be the extent of it. There logic in everything I do, it just doesn’t register with everyone.

  56. Mike Vanderboegh says:

    If I may Peter, ad seriatim:

    “The proper way to promote gun rights is through the courts, and political process, not armed resistance at this point.”

    And how’s that working out, exactly? What does Olofson’s case demonstrate? For 70 plus years we have allowed ourselves to be pushed back from the free exercise of our rights, each time whispering our resentment but refusing to DO anything about it.

    “There may be a time when that becomes appropriate, this is not that time.”

    My point about Olofson is that if this is NOT the time, right now, today, then it ain’t far in the future.

    “In many, maybe even even most, regards BATFE is overstepping it’s bounds, and needs to be reigned in, but to think that the threat of whatever arsenal you possess is stopping the government from coming to get you if they wanted to is laughable, at best. Let’s face it, the government has the power to remove any lone person, or even a group any time they want. They have the guns, body armor, tear gas, flash grenades, and worse to come and get you. The preventative power of the second amendment is in the possibility of a mass uprising, not one person shooting it out with the feds.”

    Again, how is that “reigning in” to be accomplished, exactly? They paid no price for their deadly activities in the 90s. As the result of the “war on terror” the agency has grown like Topsy, filled with new, eager ignorant and arrogant thugs who have no idea of constitututional restrictions. They are a law unto themselves, cf Olofson. Heck, the Founders would have rejected the entire agency as unconstitutional. I possess no “arsenal” save that of my own mind. I have a couple of pistols, a few rifles and a shotgun. What I have is the determination to live, or die, as God wills, as a free man. As a Christian I am unafraid of what the thugs of the imperial federal regime can do to me, for they cannot harm my inextinguishable soul. That said, I have no illusions about my INDIVIDUAL ability to resist their raid party. But I do understand how a tripwire works. Consider me as voluntary bait, without illusions of what that entails. And despite my unpopularity on this blog, where I am considered with all the fear and loathing of skunk discovered under the front pew at church, I have thousands of friends all across the country.

    “Furthermore, in your one man uprising, you will not die a martyr to more than a select group of people that are probably already on your side. While the Branch Davidians and Randy Weaver have those who support them, and are appalled by the actions of the government, neither of those incidents started an uprising, or even any widespread public outcry.”

    Now you have arrived at the precise point. As a friend wrote of Waco in an email just this morning: “Don’t get me started on that. I knew from day one what was afoot. Murder in the making. I even predicted within a day of when it would end. I hoped I was paranoid, I wasn’t. Now I am ashamed because I listened to hope, instead……” To which I replied: “Yes, exactly. But NOW we have no excuse. We said then, when we finally knew how wrong we were, ‘No More Wacos.’ So now we must have no illusions. This is why I get so angry with the cheesers who refuse to get excited about Olofson. The devil is on the march again. It is late August 1939. We must have no illusions.” It could well be that when it comes time for me and my friends to kick in like free men that no one will choose to support us. Likely in fact. Witness this board. That does not relieve us of the responsibility to resist tyranny. What we do is between us, our consciences and our God. What you do is between yours.

    “If anything you will more likely be used as an example of why we need more gun control. And all those writings that will be released on the world? They will more likely than not be used to paint you as a paranoid nut, looking to shoot it out with the black helicopters.”

    And you will be the one making those examples and excuses, rather than be forced into the dangerous ground of being a free citizen. Hide and watch.

    “You can call us what you will, but legal activism, through the courts and through the political process, is still the best way to maintain and expand our rights. ”

    Again, how’s that working out, exactly? Ask David Olofson, who presumed his right to a fair trial. Let me give you a pertinent example from the civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s. The federal government (especially J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI) was happy to ignore the murders of civil rights workers in the south until blacks, like the Deacons for Defense and Justice, began arming and threatening retaliatory violence against the Klan and the local governments they controlled. Only with the credible threat of violence were the authorities motivated to break their century of indifference to how black folks were treated in the south and DO something. If the game is rigged, threaten to overturn the table. And a pistol aimed unerringly at the cardshark helps.

    “The day may come when we need to take up arms against a tyrannical government, but the fact that you can ‘tell] them in advance, in public, what MY “rules of engagement” were.’ is proof that this is not the time. So please stop giving the anti-gun nuts more ammo, and trying to bait the government to come after you. This is only hurting our cause.”

    Well, if that’s the case, our “causes” are not the same. My cause is that of the constitutional republic of the Founders and a United States of America that my children and grandchildren can live in as free citizens, not frightened serfs. Here’s the thing: with the ATF on the prod, and cantankerous people like me refusing to be pushed, sooner or later somebody’s going to trade shots.

    WE, my friends and me, are going to give the cheesers on this board and in the larger country a choice: are you going to make the same excuses you made before in 1993 when you watched government murder on television and did nothing? And if they kill someone like me, someone who’s not a religious cultist (unless you count the Baptists as cultists), someone who doesn’t mess with explosives or automatic weapons, someone who’s a father and a grandfather, a guy who’s on disability for congestive heart failure and can’t attack anybody, a guy whose only real sin in their eyes is to despise them publicly — if they kill me and you do nothing AGAIN, hiding behind excuses AGAIN, well I don’t know how you look yourself in the mirror.

    And understand this, in a country that allows the David Olofsons to be victimized without correction, sooner or later people like me are going to force people like you to look in that mirror. And I suppose that’s what really scares y’all. But whether you like it or not, whether you join us or not, we will force you to make the choice because we DO NOT consent to be victimized by some thug simply because he possesses a federal badge that is unconstitutional in the first place. We are free men and women, and will live or die as free men and women. You are free to choose, but you should understand that the choice is not far away. The imperial feds have apparently decided that by their egregious misconduct in the Olofson case.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. More NRA bashing « Firearms & Freedom - [...] NRA bashing Snowflakes in Hell has a post regarding The Olofson Thing. To start out with, I agree with Sebastian…
  2. SayUncle » the Olofson case - [...] That pretty much nails. A few of us have been having that conversation off line for a while now.…
  3. Rifle Scope Link » Blog Archive » - [...] That pretty much nails. A few of us have been having that conversation off line for a while now.…
  4. FreedomSight » Blog Archive » Olofson Followup - [...] props to Sebastian for re-posting Olofson’s comment to Sebatian’s post on Olofson. (Via David [...]
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