Did Lee Harvey Oswald assassinate JFK?

I’ve read a lot of books, pro and con, about the assassination of JFK by Lee Harvey Oswald. If he was not a world-class sniper, how could he have pulled off those precise shots with a bolt-action rifle with a very short window of opportunity at a moving target? Could he have proven his innocence in court based on a number of other circumstantial evidence?

Yes, Lee Harvey Oswald murdered John Kennedy.
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Try it yourself. It’s not that hard.

Yes he did.

It was a slow moving target at a reasonably close distance, and he was a former marine. Doesn’t sound all that unlikely to me.

I won’t go into all the details of the conspiracy theories prons and cons, but I do want to provide a little bit of education vis-a-vis whether or not Oswald could have made the shot itself. (Shots, in the case.) Please, if you don’t believe anything else we write, understand this critical, critical fact:

The shot Oswald took was really, really easy.

I realize you have probably read statements and claims that the shot was extraordinarily difficult, a shot beyond Oswald’s capabilities. It’s simply not true; those statements are invariably made by people who simply don’t know anything about rifles, aren’t acquainted with the facts, or don’t care about facts.

  1. The distance Oswald was shooting at was less than 60 to 90 metres (depending on which of the three shots we’re talking about.) In terms of rifle accuracy, this is an amateur’s shot. Beginners commence practicing at 100 metre targets. Rifles are designed to be shot with accuracy with great ease; at 90 metres pretty much anyone who has ever handled a rifle who does not have Parkinson’s disease should be able to kill whomever they’re aiming at. You give me any willing adult, who has never fired a rifle before, and I can teach them to hit a target the size of a human head at 80 metres at least four times in five by the end of the first day of training. It’s freaking east. It is frankly unimpressive that Oswald missed one out of three shots.

  2. While Kennedy was moving, he was moving almost directly away from Oswald, and doing so very slowly - his limousine was only moving at about 15 miles per hour at the time. The deflection (the difference you have to account for in aiming at a moving target) would have been insignificant.

  3. It’s often claimed that Oswald would have had to load and fire three times in 5.6 seconds to achieve his feat. First of all, in and of itself that’s not really as hard as you think. There’s only two loads in there - you could have loaded the rifle five minutes before taking the first shot - so it’s shoot-work the action-shoot-work the action-shoot. Just do it yourself with a stopwatch; 6 seconds is not THAT rushed. And of course, while conspiracy sources claim it was 5.6 seconds, THAT probably is not true, either; it may well have been more like 8.5 seconds.

Whatever else is true, the shot Oswald took was a shot that someone with almost any experience firing a rifle could have made.

Take a visit to Dealey Plaza and I guarantee it will change your perspective, the area is really small, the shot was an easy one for anyone who knew how to shoot. Stand next to where Kennedy was first shot and look up to where Oswald was, it’s literally a stones throw.

RickJay already provided a much more detailed answer about the shooting skill required so I’ll just concur that the shots made were trivially easy. Anyone who says they were difficult, let alone impossible, is simply proving that they don’t know what they’re talking about.

As for Oswald’s chances in court, it was considered an open-and-shut case. What conspiracy theorists don’t like to talk about is there were many eyewitnesses who actually watched Oswald shooting the President from across the street.

So here’s what the prosecutor had to work with:

Kennedy was shot. By a rifle that was found in a building. The rifle was owned by Lee Oswald. He had brought a rifle-sized package to work that morning. The rifle had Oswald’s fingerprints on it. Oswald worked in the building. He was witnessed shooting the President. He was witnessed fleeing the room where the shots were fired from and then fleeing the building.

Just explain why Jack Ruby, a pimp or worse, suddenly became such a public spirited citizen that he would murder a possibly innocent man in order to redeem the good name of Dallas, save Jackie Kennedy the grief of a public trial and/or to show the world that “Jews have guts.” Toss in the fact that he had dinner the night before the assassination in a restauraunt of a known Mafia associate and you have a little food for thought at least.

You first. Explain to me how “somebody” convinced Oswald to buy the rifle that was used to shoot Kennedy. And then convinced him to have photos taken of him holding the rifle and to write and mail letters threatening to kill the President (all without their presense being noticed by Oswald’s wife or family or friends or co-workers or neighbours). And then apparently persuaded him to bring the rifle to his workplace and stand there while somebody else shot Kennedy. At which point he realized that the shooter had had his face surgically altered to look like Oswald and his fingerprints altered to match Oswald’s. Suddenly, Oswald realized he was being set up to take the fall. So he ran away as his “double” teleported unseen away from the crime scene. Hours later, after being captured, Oswald was no doubt ready to spill the beans on the masterminds who made him a patsy. Of course for maximum dramatic effect, he wasn’t going to say anything during the two days he was in police custody. He was waiting until he was outside surrounded by police officers and reporters to tell the truth about what happened. Fortunately, despite the unexpected delay in his transfer caused by Oswald’s own actions, Jack Ruby - a secret CIA hitman who had been planted as an undercover agent years before in the Dallas nightclub scene - happened to be walking by and, realizing Oswald was about to reveal everything, pulled out his gun and shot him.

The only alternative explanation is that Ruby, like Oswald, was a nut. But we know better than that.

Plus, people who should (and almost certainly do) know better, but are lying to get money from folks like the OP.

One of the things that convinced me was the debunking of the ‘magic bullet’. The Warren Commission report had a diagram of Kennedy and Connally sitting perfectly straight, one right in front of the other, and a convoluted path of the bullet to make four wounds.

The conspiracy theorists took this as evidence of a different chain of events and a second gunman. But if you look at the limousine, and the film, Connally was in a jumpseat, inboard and below Kennedy’s seat, and turning around to talk to him. Put the figures in the correct places and the wounds line up.

Conspiracy theories take an error, or a discrepancy, and concoct elaborate scenarios around them. The simpler answer is usually right.

Let us remember that Oswald fired his rifle in anger four times (once at General Walker, three times at Kennedy) and he missed with two of the shots. Not exactly ‘expert shooting’ but enough for the second target.

Reclaiming History is now out BTW, for those who want 1,500+ pages of JFK conspiracy debunking.

As I’ve pointed out before in other threads, these sort of CTs serve to satisfy a psychological disorder which ranges from anxiety to full-blown paranoia.
If you need to believe nutty stuff, no amount of facts or logic or common sense will convince you otherwise.
It’s best to just enjoy your delusions and try not to let them interfere with your daily functions.

There is plenty written on this particular CT so rehashing the facts here seems redundant and unnecessary.

Precise? His first shot was a clean miss, the second was possibly lethal and the third came after the limo had slowed to a near-stop. Arguments about how it’s impossible to replicate these shots are akin to me throwing three stones in the air and letting them land. If you try to copy my feat and can’t perfectly match when and where each stone lands, then you can’t prove I did it at all.

Heck, I could imagine somebody building a miniature theme park of sorts and let people shoot at a slowly-moving target from six stories up. I’ll bet if you put 100 ex-marines through it, at least half will do as well or better than Oswald. But if you still want to argue, I’ll just point out that lucky shots can change history just as much as accurate ones. Heck, John Hinckley nearly killed Reagan with a ricochet.

The book I read that convinced me (that the Warren Commission was essentially correct) was Case Closed by Gerald Posner. If you start with the known facts, they lead to Oswald acting alone, and Ruby acting alone. It’s a story of pathetic craziness and pointless tragedy, but that’s where the facts take you.

The conspiracy theories have created a grand mythology. Very entertaining, but you have to start with the story and then try and shoe-horn all the facts into it (though the real enthusiasts simply ignore the facts that don’t fit). It’s a compelling idea, and even some otherwise really sharp people, like Richard Belzer, become irrational on this one subject.

I’d like to second what neorxnawange said about the size of Dealey Plaza. I have read far too many books on this subject, and for years I changed like the wind, revising what I believed with each new book I read. While on a business trip to Dallas, I visited Dealey Plaza and the Sixth Floor Museum. If you are interested in the assassination and have the opportunity, you will find such a visit a revelation.

The plaza is smaller than pictures and diagrams can adequately portray. I found the idea of various shooters scattered about the plaza impossible to believe when I stood on the spots advocated by the various theorists. I believe that there were too many people in too small an area for those theories to have merit.

I stood at the X on the street and looked at the sniper window, and stood in the window next to the sniper window and looked at the X. I could have hit Kennedy two out of three times with a sling-shot from that window.

I lived in the Oak Cliff section of Dallas for years. I worked in downtown Dallas and drove past Dealey Plaza twice a day. Just to echo what others have said, the area itself is relatively small and wide open. It wouldn’t take an Olympic class shooter to accomplish what Oswald did. I don’t know that I could have made the shots but I know plenty of people who could and with no trouble at all.

Also, I have heard and read claims that Oswald couldn’t have made the trip from the School Book Repository building to where he was captured in the time that he did. I can guarantee that he could have and easily at that, even allowing the time it took him to kill Officer J.D. Tippet. At the time it happened, I could hand draw a map of Oswald’s route; any long time resident of Oak Cliff could have.

Yeah me too. I had read all the conspiracy theory stuff and “just figured” that there had to be more to it. I picked up Case Closed at the library and just tore in to it. I like how it’s written. I was amazed at how many touchstones of the theorists are just simply not true. And most significantly of all you are quite right how in the end it is all just so banal, pathetic craziness indeed.

To directly answer the OP: Oswald’s military records show he was an excellent marksman, and many tests have shown it is easy for even an average joe to get off three shots in that time frame. Only in the Oliver Stone film is he a below average shooter who couldn’t possibly shoot three times in eight seconds.

Also, the trajectory has been proven, the bullet wounds and paths match, etc.