In order to hold on to their beliefs, conspiracy theorists have devised a number of crazy ideas over the past 50 years to explain the assassination of President Kennedy. Most of them have no basis in any kind of objective reality. But the one that troubles me most, simply because it is founded on the denial of obvious facts, is that Lee Harvey Oswald could not have committed the crime because Oswald himself was incapable of making the shots that killed Kennedy.
Fact: In December of 1956, Oswald achieved the rank of “sharpshooter,” the second-highest designation of marksmanship in the U.S. Marines. Nearly 3 years later, in May of 1959, his marksmanship score lessened, however, he was still officially labeled as a “marksman.”
Oswald may not have been the world’s best shot, but according to Sgt. James Zahm, who was in charge of the marksmanship training unit, “In the Marine Corps, he is a good shot, slightly above average.” But when compared to the average male in the United States, “he is an excellent shot.” Shooting Kennedy on November 22nd 1963, Zahm said, “was an easy shot for a man with the equipment he had and his ability.” (Posner 2003:20-21)
Of course, facts don’t often sway one who has their mind made up. During a friendly discussion I had with a conspiracy theorist recently, in which I put forth these exact arguments, I was told that “even a marksman would have had difficulty hitting a moving target,” a reference to the moving JFK limo. His response was begging to be slapped down.
It is indisputable that President Kennedy was shot. No conspiracy theorist I know of denies that. He was shot twice, in fact. So clearly it must not have been that difficult to pull off. Maybe for someone like myself who has never fired a rifle in his life, but certainly not for someone with the ability of Lee Harvey Oswald.
But don’t take my word for it. The facts are easy to find.