Despite supporting suppressed evidence and a feasibly small conspiracy, I do not support that most official evidence is tainted. However, key moments and official assertions are deficient in my view. Namely, the assertion by the Commission that Lee Harvey Oswald regularly practiced with his Carcano rifle.i This idea while supported by many critics of conspiracy is not as reliable as some imagine.
In 1956, Lee Harvey Oswald achieved the rank of Sharpshooter once; officials consider this "a rather good shot". Yet in 1959, Oswald once qualified for the rank of Marksman, and this is considered "a fairly poor shot".ii This would infer with increased practice and Marine instruction Oswald was able to hone his abilities. Yet it also reveals that without the regular practice or instruction, Oswald's skill feasibly would diminish. Years pass with little evidence Oswald ever attempted to regain his former proficiency. Officials note Oswald hunting with his brother only three times before he leaves for Russia.iii
After his arriving in Russia Oswald did join a hunting club according to Marina, but never went the practice meetings.iv During his stay in Russia, Oswald hunts "about six times." v. Oswald went on a single hunting trip with Marina; he did not want to take the rifle along. Mariana asserts he took the rifle because "...one of my friends was laughing at him and said," You have a gun hanging here and you never use it. Why don't you bring it along and see if you can use it."vi
Marina later asserts he sold the hunting rifle upon his return to America. Oswald goes hunting a final time with his brother Robert using a borrowed rifle. During his years since leaving the Marines, he has actually fired a rifle on less than a dozen occasions. This does not resemble the highly proficient status critics attribute to Oswald.
The Commission states distributor Crescent Firearms shipped the Carcano to Klein's Sporting Goods to have a scope mounted. It was a surplus military rifle, yet it did undergo a refurbishment and was test fired and found to be in working order and priced at 19.95. According to the Commission, the Carcano is shipped to A. Hidell. The rifle is sent to Texas on March 20, 1963.vii Additionally, considering 2-7 days for delivery, Oswald received the weapon no earlier than March 22. On September 24, the Carcano was stored in Paine's garage wrapped in a blanket.viii Thus, Oswald only had 6 months in which to practice.
Officials state Oswald fired at General Walker on April 10, 1963. This would imply Oswald had less than eighteen days to prepare. He according to the Commission made the attempt and failed. He allegedly made a single missed shot upon the stationary Walker with time to aim. Marina further states Oswald buried and left the rifle multiple times before and after the Walker attack. These burials remove additional time.
Marina stated during testimony to the Commission that Oswald and she had a domestic incident about "10 to 12 days" after the Walker shooting. It occurs three days before they left for New Orleans.ix Marina does not observe him with the weapon again until the summer of 1963.x The Oswald family moves to New Orleans. Excluding the move time, Oswald now has just about 5 months left.
In New Orleans, many of his well-documented activities include, handing out fliers for the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, yet Oswald never attended a meeting. Federal Bureau of Investigations files reveal the group held all meetings in New York, no chapter existed in New Orleans, and Oswald was not a member.xi He allegedly went to political meetings, possibly staged a public brawl, and faces arrest. Oswald requests and subsequently was interviewed by an agent of the FBI. No witness observes him firing a rifle in New Orleans.
The Commission states, "It appears from Mariana's testimony that Oswald may have sat on a screened in porch at night practicing with a telescopic sight and operating the bolt."xii However, the infrequent dry firing that "may have" occurred is not practice. If Oswald dry fired on a consistent basis weekly it would offer advantages. Yet according to the only witness and the Commission's evidence, he did not. According to Marina Oswald when Bureau agents originally ask her in December if she observed Lee "practice" anywhere beyond the porch, Marina answered "in the negative".xiii
Oswald and his family then return to Dallas, it is now September; Oswald has less than 24 days left to consistently practice. Marina states "Lee didn't tell me when he was going out to practice. I only remember one time distinctly that he went out because he took the bus."xiv Subsequently Marina testifies, "I don't know where he practiced. I just think the bus goes to, went to Love Field." Commission Lead Counsel Rankin states "So the record will be clear on this...investigation has shown there is one place in the immediate neighborhood where there is gun practice carried on." However, if this is the case, it is merely a single occasion, not regular practice.xv
Indeed Marina did testify that Oswald stated he was practicing with the rifle. Yet the evidence for this is not present. Consider that Oswald denied his guilt and ownership of the Carcano. Oswald also claimed to be a patsy, thus his many contending statements do infer he is not a credible witness in my view. Reasonably, we cannot value his word over the consistent evidence.
The statement of George De Mohrenschildt similar to Marina relies on Oswald's credibility.xvi We largely have Oswald's word he practiced, and that is not sufficient evidence. The Carcano is stored within a blanket according to Mr. Paine and Marina Oswald. Oswald travels to and from Mexico City and is out of time for practice.
An FBI interview claimed Oswald was "observed" practicing at a local Dallas rifle range repeatedly in November. However the Commission would later dispel these claims, “...there was other evidence which prevented the Commission from reaching the conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald the person these witnesses saw."xvii Oswald takes the concealed rifle and the morning of the assassination feasibly opens the blanket. Fibers noted on the Carcano found by investigators match the shirt Oswald is wearing on November 22, 1963. These fibers are clean and infer recent material transfer. xviii This forensic evidence supports the rifle has remained covered.
Despite the prior refurbishment Commission officials questioned, "Was the firing pin of the rifle replaced? Does the FBI know the availability of spare parts?" J. Edgar Hoover advises, "The assassination rifle has been examined and nothing was found to indicate that the firing pin had been replaced." Hoover also noted "the firing pin has been used extensively as shown by wear on the nose...further, the presence of rust...this rust would have been disturbed had the firing pin been changed subsequent to the formation of rust...the firing pin and spring are well oiled and the rust present necessarily must have formed prior to the oiling of these parts."xix
The residue and use the Commission attributes to Oswald was also from prior use. Evidence and testimony agree Oswald cleaned the weapon far more than he used it. Commission evidence demonstrates Oswald did not regularly use or practice with the Carcano. This inconsistency supports Oswald is a deficient sniper.
i. Report of the President's Commission, Chapter IV, the Assassin, Oswald's Rifle Capability, p. 195
ii. Report of the President's Commission, Chapter IV, the Assassin, Oswald's Marine Training, p. 191
iii. Report of the Pres. Com., Chapter IV, Oswald's Rifle Practice Outside the Marines, p. 192
iv. Hearings of the President's Commission, Volume V, Testimony of Mrs. Lee Oswald, p. 405
v. Report of the Pres. Com, Chapter IV, p.192
vi. Hearings of the Pres. Com., Vol. V, p. 406
vii. Report of the Pres. Com., Chapter IV, p.121
viii. Ibid, p. 128
ix. Hearings of the Pres. Com., Volume V, p.392
x. Report of the Pres. Com., Chapter IV, p.128
xi. Department of the Treasury Document, Secret Service Phone Report of ASAIC George Jukes, November 25, 1963, p. 0369
xii. Report of the Pres. Com., Chapter IV, p.128
xiii. Hearings of the President's Commission, Volume XXIII, Commission Ex. No. 1789, 1790, pp. 402,403
xiv. Hearings of the Pres. Com., Volume V, p. 397
xv. Ibid, p. 398
xvi. Report of the Pres. Com., Chapter IV, p. 192
xvii. Report of the Pres. Com., Chapter VI, Investigation of Other Activities, pp. 318-320
xviii. Report of the Pres. Com., IV, p.124-125
xix. Hearings of the President's Commission, Volume XXVI, Commission Exhibit 2974, p. 455