Olofson Update

Family Continues to Need Your Help After Adverse Court Ruling

Thursday, September 3, 2009

On May 1, 2009, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed David Olofson’s conviction for the unlawful transfer of a machine gun.  All that Olofson — an Army Reservist and resident of Berlin, Wisconsin — did was loan his semi-automatic AR-15 to an acquaintance who took it to a shooting range where — acting contrary to Olofson’s express instructions — the acquaintance rotated the rifle’s safety out of either the “safe” or “fire” positions into an “unmarked” position, pulled the trigger, and the rifle fired three or four shots and then jammed.

At trial, the Government had insisted that any weapon that fired more than one shot at the single pull of the trigger — “no matter what the cause” — is a machine gun and that, since Olofson knew that his AR-15 would misfire on occasion if put in the unmarked position, then he knew that the AR-15 has all the essential characteristics of a fully automatic weapon.

Despite the fact that the prosecution’s definition of a machine gun directly conflicted with the Supreme Court’s statement in the Staples case — that to be a machine gun a weapon must be proved to shoot more than one shot at the single pull of a trigger UNTIL THE TRIGGER IS RELEASED OR THE AMMUNITION IN THE MAGAZINE IS EXHAUSTED — the three-judge appellate panel decided that the Supreme Court’s description of a fully automatic weapon was “not an accurate statement of the law.”

We believe that Staples is one time that the Supreme Court got it right.  Under its definition of “automatically,” a malfunctioning semi-automatic rifle simply cannot be a machine gun.  And that is one reason why the GOA attorneys representing Olofson have filed a petition with the Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari seeking review of Olofson’s conviction.

From the beginning, the Olofson family realized that this case was bigger than David, the husband, father, and son and their personal comforts.  Rather it was — and is —  about freedom in America.

∙ Freedom from a prosecution as the result of a chance misfire of a perfectly lawful semi-automatic handgun or rifle.

∙ Freedom under a rule of law that makes practical sense, one that would guarantee that a person could take his malfunctioning rifle to his gunsmith for repair without risk of prosecution for an illegal transfer of that weapon as if it were a machinegun.

∙ Freedom to exercise one’s constitutional right to keep and bear arms without fear of discriminatory prosecution.

Won’t you join us in this fight for freedom in the Supreme Court?


On September 4, 2009, David will have served 13 months of his 30-month sentence.  During that period friends and supporters of Gun Owners of America and Gun Owners Foundation have faithfully contributed to the family so that David’s wife, Candy, would not have to take on a second job to make ends meet.

Additionally, many of you have provided financial support to help pay the legal expenses which continue to add up as we press for a hearing on the merits in the Supreme Court.

Please go to the Olofoson Relief Fund to sign up for monthly contributions — or even to make a one-time gift.  This fund has been set up to allow concerned Americans to help the Olfosons make their mortgage and (their one) car payments while Dave is unable to work.  
While David is hoping for an early release to a half-way house, he will still have very limited opportunity to earn a living for his family.

If you would like to help with the legal expenses, please send your contribution to GOA and we will make sure that all of it goes to paying for lawyer fees and expenses necessary to take this case to the Supreme Court.  

One-time donations to Olofson Relief Fund are exactly that.  But if you choose the monthly giving option, then your credit card will be automatically charged each month for the amount you have indicated.  As stated earlier, this will continue until Olofson is out of prison — or you notify us to discontinue the charges.

To read about this case in greater detail, please visit the Olofson Section on the Gun Owners Foundation Website at www.gunowners.com/olofson