longish, but worth reading (malfunctioning semi-auto = machine gun?)


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alan
August 11, 2005, 07:54 PM
Posters Question:

When does a mal-functioning semi-automatic rifle become an illegal machinegun. Serious business this, very serious business.

Mr. John Glover was, according to magazine articles and a video showing the test firing of an FAL type rifle he owned, accused and indicted for making/possessing an illegal machinegun, that is to say a supposed semi-automatic rifle, the above mentioned FAL, that fired in the full automatic mode. In the course of events, and the spending by Glover of god knows how much money defending himself against what appear to be questionable charges, all charges have been since dismissed.

I personally, based on what I've seen and read, am uncertain as to whether or not other firearms seized from Glover by the BATFE have been returned to him, however the question that I find especially interesting is the following. How did Glover happen to come to the attention of the BATFE, and it's stalwarts? Which of The Seven Deadly Sins did he commit to draw the attention of the BATFE? I've been told by people who might well know a lot more than I, that even if Glover had been seen firing his rifle in full automatic mode, and that his action had been reported to BATFE, that the allegations or statement by the person claiming to have so seen would not be sufficient to obtain a warrant, yet unless BATFE was really out on a limb, acting without a warrant, they did obtain a warrant or warrants, and Mr. Glover had been indicted too.

Interestingly, BATFE firearms examiner Michael Cooney, during October 2002, test fired the FAL in question, using what he described as Federal brand American Eagle 308 Winchester (7.62 x 51mm) ammunition. During the course of this test firing, he obtained what he described as "full automatic fire". According to Mr. Cooney, who is/was based in Washington, DC, he had obtained this rifle from a BATFE agent in Charlotte, NC. One presumes that this agent had seized the rifle from Mr. Glover. It would appear that there was no film made of this first test firing, as none has been mentioned. In his report, Mr. Cooney characterized the FAL as a machinegun, which presented quite serious problems for Mr. Glover, as the rifle was not registered as a machinegun, and one assumes that Glover was not authorized to make or possess machineguns.

A year and a half pass, what might have been ongoing during this period, and during the morning of 27 May 2004, the rifle was again test fired by BATFE firearms examiner Michael Cooney.. This test firing is depicted in tapes and a DVD available from JPFO. The following are events/results seen on a DVD I obtained from JPFO. Mr. Cooney proceeded as follows. He first loaded one round into a magazine, and with the rifle's selector switch on "semiautomatic", fired one shot. He then loaded two rounds into the magazine, selector switch was unchanged, and fired two shots. He then loaded three rounds into the magazine, placed the selector switch on full automatic, and fired three shots. Ammunition used was Chilean and Portuguese manufactured, military surplus 7.62 x 51 mm rounds, as well as Remington caliber 308 Winchester loads and Winchester brand 308 Winchester loads. The last two mentioned being commercial ammunition purchased in the Charlotte area, near to the police range where the firing was done.

Results obtained were as follows. Completely normal firing and function with two different surplus ammunitions, and with Remington commercial loads. Firing of Winchester brand ammunition produced multiple shots with a single actuation of the trigger, with three rounds in the magazine, and the selector switch in the full automatic position. Cooney made frequent mention of "light firing pin hits or strikes on the primers of unfired rounds". Cooney also made frequent mention, at the outset, of the presence of either a muzzle break or a flash suppresser, screwed onto the threaded muzzle of the rifle. I'm not quite certain as to the significance of this last, though Cooney seemed to have been taken by it. WRITERS NOTE: I have seen similar conditions, light firing pin strikes on ammunition primers regarding commercial ammunition in caliber 9 x 18mm (Makarov), rounds that had been chambered but not fired, as well as in 30-06 loads that had been chambered but not fired in Garand rifles, and 7.62 x 51 mm (308 Winchester) rounds chambered, then ejected from M-14 type rifles. The firing pins of the three weapons mentioned do not have retractor springs, and sort of "slop around" in the rifle bolts and the slide of the pistol, making light contact with the primer of a chambered round, when the slide is allow to close under spring pressure in the case of the pistol, and re the rifle, when a round is stripped out of the magazine or "en block clip" in the Garand, and chambered, but not fired.

When the FAL was detail stripped by Mr. Len Savage, a defense witness and firearms manufacturer, it was determined that internal parts of the FAL were not in proper condition, what appeared to be a firing pin retractor spring being in worn or damaged condition, (broken ends and missing coils). Other internal parts were described as being not as they should be. Mr. Savage went so far as to state that, in his opinion, this rifle, due to it's condition, was capable of "firing unlocked", which is an extremely dangerous condition for a rifle to be in. It appears, from his statements, that Mr. Cooney, the BATF firearms examiner, despite having experienced unusual functioning of the rifle in question, had not himself taken the trouble to closely examine the rifle to determine exactly what it's situation was. Having obtained, in October 2002, an unstated number of multiple firings with a single actuation of the trigger, he reported this rifle as being a machinegun. Later testing and examination determined that while there were multiple discharges with some brands of ammunition, they were caused by improper parts, not illegal alterations or substitution of parts, intended to create a machinegun.

As above stated, charges against Mr. Glover have been dismissed, which is all well and good, until question as to the following is raised. To whom does Mr. Glover look to "be made whole", defending oneself against criminal charges can be quite expensive. Has his property, seized forearms, been returned, and in what condition? If they have not been returned, why? Finally, given the seriousness of the charges, quite substantial fines and significant time in jail if convicted, permanent loss of basic civil rights too, why did Mr. Cooney, as seems the case, not take an especially close look at this supposed machinegun, for after all, if it was a machinegun, as opposed to a mal functioning rifle, one would think it would fire full automatic with any proper ammunition. That it didn't should certainly have set alarm bells ringing loudly in the mind of any thoughtful, responsible firearms examiner.

That this did not happen, raises the following question in my mind, perhaps in the minds of others too. Staying within the bounds of polite inquiry, is it possible that BATFE's primary interests lay in the direction of "making a case", with finding the truth coming in dead ass last? The agency, over many years, has garnered for itself, a record that could be characterized as checkered, and then there were the results of Congressional investigations into ATF operations and methods, these hearings held in 1982, as I recall. The results obtained were less than complimentary to the ATF, and respecting this case, one wonders if existing problems ever received the corrective attention they so badly needed, and perhaps still need. One might note in passing that the answer to that question is unfortunately NO. That situation strikes the writer as particularly sad. One wonders as to how it might strike others, and or what actions others might take.

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Chipperman
August 11, 2005, 10:03 PM
OK, so where is this from?
Did you write this, or is it transcribed from somewhere?
Are there any links to court proceedings?

As for the test firing, it should not surprise anyone. The initial job of the BATF investigator would be to see if the gun fired full-auto, not WHY it fires full-auto.

The mention of light strikes has no legal bearing, as many guns do that. It was probably just mentioned in the report from the investigator.

The loose compensator would be an issue if this was Post-Ban gun, as the episode took place while the AWB was in effect.

alan
August 12, 2005, 11:26 AM
Chipperman wrote asking the following:

OK, so where is this from?
Did you write this, or is it transcribed from somewhere?
Are there any links to court proceedings?

As for the test firing, it should not surprise anyone. The initial job of the BATF investigator would be to see if the gun fired full-auto, not WHY it fires full-auto.

The mention of light strikes has no legal bearing, as many guns do that. It was probably just mentioned in the report from the investigator.

The loose compensator would be an issue if this was Post-Ban gun, as the episode took place while the AWB was in effect.

--------------------

Chipperman:

What you see is what you get. What you read is what I wrote. Any references to what was said by anyone else, that being Agent Cooney or Mr. Savage come from what one would see/hear when viewing the DVD.

As to your comments on the test firing, we might have a difference of opinion here. It is my view that the job of the BATF examiner to acertain why, as well as what, so to speak, for the altering of a semi-automatic rifle to fire in the full automatic mode would constitute "making a machinegun". Absent proper "paperwork" and authorization for such alteration, a serious problem exists. On the other hand, MAL-FUNCTION due to worn or broken parts does not constitute the "making of a machinegun", and while repairs would need to be made, I would think that no crime had been committed. It would be, one assumes, part of the investigators job to determing the above mentioned "why's" as well as the "what's" of a situation.

Aa to the "light strikes", Mr. Cooney seemed to think them worthy of frequent mention, which he made.

Regarding what you described as a "loose compensator", again Mr. Cooney seemed rather taken with this aspect of the thing, as he made several mentions of it at the outset. In any case, so far as I could tell, Mr. Glover was charged with "Making of a machinegun", or "possession of an illegal machinegun", not possession of a rifle with a "loose compensator", as you put it.

As I said at the outset, what you read is what I personaly wrote, all 1300 plus words. I'd be happy to address any other questions you might have. Give me a shout.

SMMAssociates
August 12, 2005, 04:00 PM
Perhaps there's more to this, but forgive my interjection of logic:

If indeed the weapon was supposed to be a legal semi, I think it's normal to assume that any conversion to full-auto (or burst mode) would require the addition or modification of parts in the action.

Were those parts present or modified in a manner that would make the weapon reliably full-auto?

If the answer is no, then there's no case.

If "modification" is present, but no new parts designed to turn it into a full-auto weapon, can it be shown to be normal wear, a defect, or intentional?

The latter is probably difficult to prove, but normal wear and a defect are pretty much the same thing or we're all screwed, and if that's the situation, then there's no case either.

An intentional modification that makes the gun full-auto would be a violation.... Same as adding or swapping parts....

The compensator is a red herring.... Unfortunately, it may also be a "machine gun" in the same sense that some large magazines make one's otherwise legal gun into one. Still, that should be a no-brainer.

As explained, it really sounds like somebody didn't like the guy, or the ATF folks don't understand the situation. The idea that an "inspector" didn't look for mechanical issues other than whether the gun would go full auto once in a while, is kind of repugnant.

I had a PPK/S that went full auto, and would repeatedly do so if I'd been foolish enough to reload it. The extractor broke, and that disabled the disconnector. Three cases in the ejection port and crunch....

Another question is how did ATF get involved? Did the guy notice that his gun would full-auto by itself, and show it off? Sure looks like ATF was out to nail this guy....

Regards,

alan
August 13, 2005, 12:26 PM
SMMA Asspociates:

The following link might provide something of interest.

http://gunsmagazine.com/Rights07.html

Other than that, who knows why the BATFE became "interested" in Mr. Glover. It does seem that their operations and methods have been described as "strange" before, perhaps theyu remain, despite ongoing changes of name "strange". In any case, charges, and I suspect that they were a serious matter, have been dismissed. Exactly what that means will be determined by others, people more learned in the law and the ways of the bureaucracy than yours truly.

If anyone doubts what I've written or my understandings of things, I suggest that they view the DVD for themselves, which is what I did, BEFORE writing my post. In any case, it seems to me that the actions of Mr. Cooney are most certainly open to question, as you have noted.

In passing, and some will dismiss the following, it has been claimed that BATFE and the agencies that came before it, have long displayed a major hostility toward guns and gun ownership by "civilians", they being the law abiding citizenry, or that portion thereof who choose to exercise their constitutional rights re firearms. Of course, there is the fact that laws are created by The Congress, however the pattern of enforcement actions, such as seen in this case do seem somewhat strange to me, perhaps to you also.

In the end, if we have gotten to that juncture, the following questions arise. Re Glover and BATFE, is what we see here simply a blunder on the part of their guy, Mr. Cooney, an honest, but serious "mistake", or do we here see something much more serious, vicious, blatant perhaps criminal misuse of the law, by what has been described as an agency gone wild, and it's employees?

If this latter proves to be the case. Mr. Cooney is certainly culpable, however those in MANAGEMENT, who establish policy and practices, who make the political decisions, and there are political decisions involved here, are ever so much worse, and it is they who should be hung, in the most literal sense of the term. The sort of things that took place in Abu Garib must never happen here. Those responsible for this fiasco must be found out and punished, and if it stops at the sargents level, a level occupied by the Mike Cooney's, we are in real trouble, as that song said, Right Here In River City, this trouble being spelled GOVERNMENT, perhaps BUREAUCRACCY.

SMMAssociates
August 13, 2005, 03:06 PM
Alan:

In the end, if we have gotten to that juncture, the following questions arise. Re Glover and BATFE, is what we see here simply a blunder on the part of their guy, Mr. Cooney, an honest, but serious "mistake", or do we here see something much more serious, vicious, blatant perhaps criminal misuse of the law, by what has been described as an agency gone wild, and it's employees?

I get to hear a lot of BATFE stories. A good friend runs a store.... The last one I heard involved a container for black powder. He bought or built one to the BATFE's specification, had it signed off on, etc. A year or two later, some agents stopped by and cited him for improper storage. He'd missed a memo that required a change in the locking hardware. The difference being whether the hardware was installed vertically v.s. horizontally....

I'll believe about anything.... Mostly what I see is an agency that needs to justify it's existence, both in terms of a possible change in overall attitudes about guns and to stay "in line" with the antis, should they return to power. Kinda like the RINOs in OH who put all the poison pills into the CHL law....

If this latter proves to be the case. Mr. Cooney is certainly culpable, however those in MANAGEMENT, who establish policy and practices, who make the political decisions, and there are political decisions involved here, are ever so much worse, and it is they who should be hung, in the most literal sense of the term. The sort of things that took place in Abu Garib must never happen here. Those responsible for this fiasco must be found out and punished, and if it stops at the sargeants level, a level occupied by the Mike Cooney's, we are in real trouble, as that song said, Right Here In River City, this trouble being spelled GOVERNMENT, perhaps BUREAUCRACY.

Probably a little bit of both -the Management and the Agent.... Odds are they'll flog the little guy and promote the managers....

Regards,

MechAg94
August 13, 2005, 06:19 PM
Thanks for the link. I didn't have any idea what you were talking about in the original post.

It seems to me the agent could be held responsible since he was acting as a firearms expert in providing his judgement in the report when he apparently is nothing of the kind. I guess it would depend on what he actually wrote in the report. Not sure how federal laws work on that stuff.

Why did it take so long to get an actual firearms expert to do a complete test on the rifle?

alan
August 14, 2005, 05:19 PM
MechAg94 wrote:

Thanks for the link. I didn't have any idea what you were talking about in the original post.

It seems to me the agent could be held responsible since he was acting as a firearms expert in providing his judgement in the report when he apparently is nothing of the kind. I guess it would depend on what he actually wrote in the report. Not sure how federal laws work on that stuff.

Why did it take so long to get an actual firearms expert to do a complete test on the rifle?

--------

NO PERSONAL CRITICISM INTENDED, but I thought that the subject of my post was entirely clear, but then I had both read the article I linked, likely I should have included it in the post, as well as saw the DVD of the 2004 test firing.

Of course, Cooney should be held responsible, however where did the POLICY AND DIRECTIVES he operates under come from. Cooney might deserve to have his behind kicked, as a result of NOT properly examining the rifle in question. As I mentioned earlier, it is, in my opinion, the policy makers that should be taken out and hung. Then what do we do witrh the people who created the problem in the first place, the CONGRESS CRITTERS, who via having enacted such abominations of law, in effect thumbed their noses at the oath of office they all took, and at the law abiding citizens of this country.

As to your last question, perhaps a matter of crouded courts, or procrastination that both sides could be guilty of. Obviously, that is simply a guess.

DRZinn
August 15, 2005, 02:27 AM
The individual should be cited for having an unsafe weapon (capable of firing unlocked). Upon getting it fixed and demonstrating to the local ATF office that it has, in fact, been rendered safe, the citation should be stricken from his record and no fine levied.

Just like a busted headlight.

SMMAssociates
August 15, 2005, 03:16 AM
The individual should be cited for having an unsafe weapon (capable of firing unlocked). Upon getting it fixed and demonstrating to the local ATF office that it has, in fact, been rendered safe, the citation should be stricken from his record and no fine levied.

Doc:

While I sort of agree, I shudder at the thought of BATFE (or about anybody) having the authority to inspect my guns. Hilary gets elected, and we get tagged for defective finishes on the mainspring guide rod or something of equal importance. (We're stuck with NFA firearms issues, but that's another thread.)

In this case, the weapon was demonstrably defective, and unsafe, but there's no law against it. Just common sense (and, I suppose, contributory negligence).

While I can see BATFE getting interested by way of a tip or some such, as soon as it could be shown that the weapon was simply defective, that should have been the end of it.

I don't claim to be competent enough to do that - but there are plenty of guys out there who are. The only issue is whether or not parts were replaced or intentionally modified. This should be easy enough for somebody who knows the gun. I wouldn't claim to be an expert, but I probably handle the job if it was a 1911.

Instead, BATFE apparently managed only to prove that the gun was defective. It should never have been taken. Or, if taken (BATFE probably could justify examining the gun), it should have been returned instantly.

IANAL and all that....

Regards,

DRZinn
August 15, 2005, 12:01 PM
While I sort of agree, I shudder at the thought of BATFE (or about anybody) having the authority to inspect my guns. Hilary gets elected, and we get tagged for defective finishes on the mainspring guide rod or something of equal importance. (We're stuck with NFA firearms issues, but that's another thread.)I was speaking a little tongue-in-cheek. It was more of a philosophical point, I guess, than a practical one.

Whether or not the rifle fires full-auto is none of their business. Since the additional point was made that it is capable of firing unlocked, I can see that being a legitimate danger to others, and, though it still makes me a little queasy, I'd be willing to let the government regulate that, as long as it didn't involve any type of mandatory inspection. Again, practically I'd say not only no, but HELL no, because of the very possibility you mentioned of the safety requirements becoming prohibitive of ownership in any form. But philosophically, I'd be OK with weapons having to be safe.

0007
August 15, 2005, 04:46 PM
This whole situation was gone over pretty thoroughly on www.falfiles.com. Apparently the firing pin in the gun broke and jammed far enough out to cause the gun to fire slightly out of battery, causing it to double. Everything went downhill from there.

jefnvk
August 15, 2005, 05:19 PM
It was an accident, but how did they find out? Was an ATF agent at the range when it happened? Did someone turn him in? Was he bragging about it malfunctioning?

gm
August 15, 2005, 06:54 PM
he probably bragged about it on the internet at one of the gun rooms and the wrong eyes saw it and needed something to do.those guys believe everything.

actually some guy with a grudge started the whole mess.

ctdonath
August 15, 2005, 07:08 PM
If the answer is no, then there's no case. Wrong. BATFE view, which translates into judge's view, is that if they can get any gun to "double" JUST ONCE EVER, they'll swear under oath it's a contraband machinegun (forever and always) and the owner gets 10 years in prison. Often noted on the full-auto discussion boards is that if the BATFE decides to test a gun for full-auto capability, the test WILL come back positive - regardless of how much trickery, manipulation, gumming up the works, and sheer brute patience they have to exert to make it happen.

If the BATFE ever decides to check your gun, absolutely insist that the ENTIRE PROCESS BE VIDEORECORDED. Make sure they understand the jury WILL be subjected to watching the ENTIRE process, no matter how many days or weeks it takes.

And if your gun ever doubles, GET IT FIXED. Both to prevent the above, and ... er ... to prevent a repeat of me getting a bullet fragment in my lip (still there) from someone's semi-auto doubling and the second round ricochet meeting me. But I digress...

alan
August 16, 2005, 12:36 AM
0007:

This whole situation was gone over pretty thoroughly on www.falfiles.com. Apparently the firing pin in the gun broke and jammed far enough out to cause the gun to fire slightly out of battery, causing it to double. Everything went downhill from there.

-------------

I looked at the link you provided. Seems that things have moved there. I will try again later.

In THIS CASE, there was no broken firing pin involved here. What appeared to be a retractor spring was defective, seemingly allowing "firing pin bounce", if you will accept that phrase. As I recall, the firing pin showed some wear, according to comment by Mr. Savage, who examined the rifle after the May, 2004 test firing by Cooney, which is the subject of the JPFO DVD.

By the way, is "slightly out of battery" akin to the sad young woman, who it turned out was "a little pregnant"?

woerm
August 16, 2005, 01:25 PM
here is the source of the dvd.

http://www.jpfo.org/batfevideo.htm

also, after over 6 months of wrangling I got a few minutes w/ my local rep

Sam Johnson 3rd TX cong dist.

he watched the dvd and asked me to forward some further stuff to his 2a aide in DC.

He is aware of the veterans Heritage weapons act and I asked if he would work to ditch 922(o) and re open the registery for NFA stuff.

Mr. Johnson didn't run screaming for the door. He did listen and ask relevant questions. So I hope that this vile twit from the BATFE (redundancy alert!) that was trying to railroad Mr Glover may have helped us along.

For what it is worth, it didn't help that Customs/ATFE dude's 'explaination' of the double/full auto defied physics.

It was nice to see a Congressional Rep that didn't treat a gun activist (me) like a crazy uncle. He listened and asked a few quesitions and asked where the heritage weapons bill was (in his committe Ways/means) so we may hopefully see some action on this

I'll keep the heat on

I'd love to see the registery open again.

I'll discuss the bafte bs w/ the import parts/barrels when I talk to the 2a aide tomorrow.

respectfully submitted

fyi etc

r
edited to clear up person/tense phog of grammer.

0007
August 16, 2005, 03:39 PM
That may have been a different case over on the files. This one read like the one over there(maybe they all do). I do remember that the guy over there got "narced on" by somebody wto was pissed off at him.

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