SDI Advisory Board Spotlight: Dan O’Kelly

  • SDI Admin

A life-long study of firearm design, history, and manufacturing combined with a career in law enforcement often creates a unique body of work and experience that is highly valued within the firearms industry. However, Dan O’Kelly — a new addition to the SDI Advisory Board — takes it all to a new and intense level.

O’Kelly began his career as a police officer and detective in Indiana, but his abilities, knowledge, and expertise soon led him to criminal investigations at the federal level, as well as to providing unique services that would include personal protection details for the president of the United States, foreign ministers, and the United Nations General Assembly.

“We’re very excited to welcome Dan to the SDI Advisory Board,” said SDI Executive Director of Strategic Development Wes LeMay. “With his unique background and experience, Dan brings a rare insight to our firearms technology degree programs, and the primary beneficiaries of that knowledge will undoubtedly be SDI students.”

O’Kelly became a special agent for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) in 1988, where he conducted criminal investigations for arson, bombings, explosives, organized crime, drug trafficking, and alcohol/tobacco diversion. He served as the lead instructor of firearm technology at the ATF National Academy, and also led the ATF Undercover Training Program for two years. He has successfully worked undercover operations that netted international gun traffickers in Europe and infiltrated organized crime groups in the United States. In fact, one of his most recent cases was covered by the New York Times and Rolling Stone magazine.

He is qualified as an expert firearm witness in U.S. District Court and as a teacher of firearm interstate nexus and testimony for ATF. He has also served as ATF’s Resident Agent in charge of the State of Delaware, and as firearm instructor coordinator of the ATF’s Tampa Field Division. In 2003, O’Kelly co-wrote the Certified Firearm Specialist program for ATF at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

O’Kelly is a certified firearm range instructor; a builder and collector of firearms and ammunition; and a factory-trained armorer for 13 gun companies. He has toured and conducted research at numerous firearm and ammunition factories and firearm reference collections in the United States, Europe, and Africa, and regularly presents seminars on firearm enforcement, technology, markings, and ammunition to law enforcement, licensed dealers, and collectors.


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