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Transcript from - Lou Dobbs Report on CNN - Thurs Jan 22nd 2009 7pm EST. (If we obtain a video clip it will be added).
(We have also obtained a sound file of the oral argument ... MP3 approx 5 Mb.)
DOBBS: A federal appellate court today heard the case of Wisconsin gun owner David Olofson. This is a case that could have national implications for millions of law-abiding gun owners all across this country. Olofson is now in federal prison convicted of illegally transferring a machine gun.
But the evidence clearly shows that the weapon in question was not a machine gun. And we have been reporting on this case throughout. It was a semiautomatic rifle that simply misfired. Bill Tucker has our report from Chicago.
BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Olofson’s family showed up for the appeal. His mother, father, wife and kids came. They came in support of David Olofson who is serving a 30-month sentence in the federal penitentiary in Sand Stone (ph), Minnesota, a sentence he began serving last July.
DAVID OLOFSON, SR, DAVID OLOFSON’S FATHER: It’s been extremely difficult. I know it’s been extremely difficult for Candy and the kids and the rest of our extended family.
CANDY OLOFSON, DAVID OLOFSON’S WIFE: It’s hard for Alex. He’s the oldest. And I have him talking with a school counselor to make sure that things go OK and Isabella, I mean she you know she cries a little.
TUCKER: Olofson’s in jail because a jury found him guilty of unlawful transfer of a machine gun. But he didn’t own a machine gun. He owned a semiautomatic rifle known as an AR-15, a gun legally owned by thousands.
(on camera): The key issue in this case and the reason it’s drawn so much attention to gun owners across America is the definition of what is a machine gun. The defense argues the Supreme Court has provided a definition, a definition that was not applied in David Olofson’s first trial. (voice-over): Instead, the jury was instructed by the district court judge that any firearm by design or malfunction is a machine gun if it shoots more than one shot with one pull of the trigger.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That definition of a machine gun is contrary to fact, contrary to law, and in conflict with Supreme Court and this court’s precedent that defines a machine gun as a firearm that shoots automatically more than one shot by a single function of the trigger until the trigger is released or the ammunition in the magazine is exhausted.
TUCKER: The defense admits the gun fired more than one bullet with a single pull of the trigger, but says that when it did, the gun jammed. The government argued that the broader definition used by the district court was correct.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The government’s position is that the district court did not err when it declined to give an instruction defining the word automatically, to require the government to prove that with a single pull of the trigger a weapon fires repeatedly until the trigger is released or until the ammunition is exhausted.
TUCKER: But it’s a distinction that greatly concerns gun owners, because if the government prevails, they say, any gun that misfires multiple rounds is no longer just a broken gun, it’s also a machine gun which is illegal to own.
TUCKER: And Lou, we’d like to remind our viewers, David Olofson is a veteran of the U.S. Army, honorably discharged. And up until the time of his conviction, he was serving as an Army Reservist. He’s now about seven months into a 30-month prison sentence. And Lou, it could take months yet still before this court decides on whether his conviction should be overturned or not -- Lou.
DOBBS: Well I think we’ve got to be very clear, too, with our audience here. The reason we’re following this story is that we have not been able to substantiate a single claim against this man that justifies his prosecution on any basis whatsoever. Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms does a wonderful job, but there is every, every evidence in this case of prosecutorial zeal that does not in any way square up with the evidence of wrongdoing of character.
This is a man who is being maligned. And by the way, the principle organizations in this country, the National Rifle Association, I mean how many organizations have stood up to stand behind this man who is literally, and I will say it straightforwardly, in my judgment being railroaded in the state of Wisconsin.
TUCKER: The NRA, Lou, has been very reluctant to go near this case. They’ve been watching it from an arm’s length. The one group that has stepped up and the group that’s funding his legal defense is Gun Owners of America. And Larry Pratt (ph) over there with his group, down in Washington, D.C., second largest gun lobby in the United States, is funding this legal defense and standing behind Olofson in this case.
DOBBS: Well, our compliments to them, our accommodation, our gratitude. But the people of Wisconsin, the people of this nation have got to understand this is the kind of prosecution that is precisely what is prohibited by our Second Amendment. And the zeal being displayed here by the United States Justice Department, by the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and frankly, being permitted by the court system, is wrong. And it is absolutely wrong to go after this man who’s honorably served and has been serving up until to the point of this conviction, his country. This is ignorance. This is an assault on his liberty and all our rights.
TUCKER: And Lou, the central question we keep asking over and over again was this was a broken AR-15. Why didn’t the government go to him and say fix this gun or surrender it. And that’s obviously not what they did.
DOBBS: There is a great deal of explaining necessary here. And so far, we have not seen a single politician step forward with the guts to start demanding answers.
And that should concern everyone just as much as the assault on our Second Amendment rights in this country.
Let’s hope that justice is done for Mr. Olofson and quickly. Thank you very much. Bill Tucker.