I’m very much a history and news junkie, but I am not yet particularly drawn to revisit JFK’s murder as we approach the 50th anniversary of Dallas.  If I watch a show on it, it will probably be by accident.  I think it’s just that I’ve seen all there is to see on this on cable at various times.  I read a few books on it over the years also, including Jim Garrison’s.

By my literary nature though I continue to be interested in analysis of trope and conversational touchstones.  And with JFK / Dallas / Oswald there are some common oral air biscuits that get lofted during the course of conversational banter.  These tropes typically I think allow the conspiracy minded to argue plausibly, credibly, and persuasively around the water cooler or at the bar.  But factually they turn out to be quite vapory when you sit down and do a desk check.

So first, prominent is the idea that Oswald couldn’t shoot well. And that this disqualifies him as the gunman.

Mind you, I saw Oliver Stones JFK when it came out, and I was pretty enthralled.  I recounted Stone’s laundry list to my father, who hadn’t seen JFK the movie and was fairly agnostic on the topic as a whole.

“The big thing is, Oswald wasn’t good enough to pull off the shooting task’, I recall telling my dad, that argument taken from a character who voiced it in the in the movie.

“What do you mean, not good enough?  He was a Marine,” my dad asked, puzzled, he a former Marine.

That’s about as elaborate as that conversation got at the time, but it would become profound to me in ensuing years as a tangential anecdote when I contemplated the nature of vocation, skill, and competency.

As a short answer, thing is that Oswald passed out of basic riflery in the Marine Corps without delay.  Or lets quibble, and say ‘with a little delay, maybe’, as I don’t have recall over what anecdotes there might be in the Warren report on how he tested.

The overriding observation is that, yes, he was a Marine.  Oswald’s military experience made him vocationally qualified and skilled in use of a rifle, which set him apart from perhaps 90% of the population.  If he wasn’t good enough to do precision sniping, he most certainly was familiar /comfortable enough with the weapon to get lucky using it.

Second on the list of blithe assertions is the idea the Carcano carbine (used by Oswald) was a shitty rifle.

Uh, OK….  If ya’ll say so.  Compared to what?

The Carcano was a military grade (ie, heavy and overbuilt) bolt action rifle.  It was of enough utility that millions were made and its type had a service life of over 50 years.

Now, this is my arena, and I know how these things are talked about.  The only way it’s “shitty”, if is you have a military rifle aficionado comparing it to say an American Springfield ‘03.  In which case the Carcano will be shitty by comparison, because the ’03 was the penultimate, not to be improved on bolt action military rifle.   It was the standard by which things were judged ‘shitty’.  And the expert that the Warren report or Garrison quoted was more than likely such a person.

But this is an anecdote / detail that most of your JFK conspiracy theorists, maybe even most people, are not qualified to understand or employ properly, so it gets descriptively misused.  As with Oswald’s characterization as a poor shooter.


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