Here's a real doozy of a conspiracy myth:
Lee Harvey Oswald never ordered any rifle at all from Klein's Sporting Goods in March of 1963.
Now, given the overwhelming evidence in this case that proves Lee Oswald definitely did order the rifle that ultimately ended up being the weapon that killed John F. Kennedy, the above theory/myth is totally preposterous and should be downright embarrassing to any conspiracy theorist who suggests such a thing.
And it's certainly not a new allegation either. In one of the first books ever written on the JFK assassination in 1966, "Rush To Judgment", lawyer and first-generation Warren Commission critic Mark Lane strongly suggested that there could have been something sinister going on with respect to the rifle and the way it was ordered through the mail. [And also see the video embedded below.] Lane also seemed to suggest the possibility that Oswald and A.J. Hidell (Oswald's alias) just might have been two different persons, which is an utterly implausible notion. Here's what Lane said in his book:
"It is of course possible that Oswald or Hidell or someone else ordered a rifle from the February issue of The American Rifleman and that Klein's sent a different but similar weapon by mistake. Without a suitable explanation, however, the chain of evidence relating Oswald, or Hidell, to the weapon appears damaged. The Commission failed to explore this possibility and
thereby closed its mind to an important aspect of the investigation."
-- Page 138 of "Rush To Judgment"
But, in reality, the "chain of evidence relating Oswald to the weapon" is not "damaged" at all, because the trail of evidence that tells any reasonable person that Mannlicher-Carcano rifle #C2766 (Commission Exhibit 139) was ordered, paid for, and possessed by Lee Harvey Oswald (aka "A. Hidell") is so extensive and complete and ironclad that it would take a person who has his head completely buried in conspiracy sand to believe that Oswald did not receive that exact rifle in the mail in late March 1963.
THE RIFLE FACTS:
1.) It has been proven, beyond all reasonable doubt, that Lee Harvey Oswald did, in fact, order a mail-order rifle from Klein's Sporting Goods Company in Chicago in March of 1963. The handwriting on all of the documents connected with the Klein's transaction is that of Oswald's, which proves beyond all doubt that it was Oswald (and no other person) who ordered and paid for Carcano rifle #C2766 that was shipped to Oswald/Hidell by Klein's in March 1963 [Warren Report, p.118-122]. (But, of course, many conspiracy buffs no longer think any handwriting analysis is worth a hill of beans. Which would mean that all of the various handwriting experts who testified over the years that it was positively Oswald's writing on the multiple documents associated with the rifle purchase must have all been dead wrong--or they all simply lied.)
2.) Regardless of the fact that Oswald technically did order a 36-inch Italian carbine, per the words written in the February 1963 American Rifleman magazine ad that Oswald used to order the rifle (pictured below), Klein's Sporting Goods in Chicago shipped a 40-inch rifle with serial number C2766 on it to "A. Hidell" on March 20, 1963.
The internal paperwork generated by Klein's at the time in March of 1963 (see Waldman Exhibit No. 7 and the Warren Commission testimony of William J. Waldman, beginning at 7 H 360) confirms that Oswald/"Hidell" was shipped an Italian 6.5mm rifle with that exact serial number on it ("C2766").
The likely explanation for why Oswald received a 40-inch rifle instead of the 36-inch model that he ordered via the Klein's mail-order coupon is pretty simple and logical, and it is this: Klein's very likely ran out of the 36-inch model shortly before receiving Oswald's order, and hence shipped a very similar (but slightly lengthier) gun instead.
In August 2010, Gary Mack of the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza provided this writer with some detailed information concerning the advertisements that Klein's was running in American Rifleman magazine throughout the calendar year of 1963. Mr. Mack's research revealed the fact that the February '63 Klein's ad was very likely the last time during the year 1963 that Klein's advertised the 36-inch Italian carbine. All other ads for that year that Mack was able to find indicate that the 40-inch rifle was being advertised. Here's the breakdown of the Klein's ads for that year in American Rifleman magazine:
Jan 63 -- p. 61 -- 36-inch “6.5 Italian Carbine” -- $12.88 -- $19.95 (with scope)
Feb 63 -- p. 65 -- Same ad as above
Mar 63 -- No ad
Apr 63 -- p. 55 -- 40-inch “6.5 Italian Carbine” -- $12.88 -- $19.95 (with scope)
May 63 -- Missing pp. 63-66
Jun 63 -- p. 59 -- 40-inch “6.5 Italian Carbine” -- $12.88 -- $19.95 (with scope)
Jul 63 -- p. 67 -- 40-inch “6.5 Italian Carbine” -- $12.78 -- $19.95 (with scope)
Aug 63 -- p. 79 -- Same ad as above
Sep 63 -- p. 89 -- Same ad as above
Oct 63 -- p. 85 -- Same ad as above
Nov 63 -- No ad
Dec 63 -- No ad
[Source: E-mail to David Von Pein from Gary Mack, August 18, 2010.]
In that same e-mail, Gary Mack went on to say this:
"Oswald ordered the 36-inch rifle but, probably due to Klein’s running out of stock, he received the 40-inch model instead. The price remained the same, so Klein’s may have just sent him the newly available model instead. They would certainly accept a return if he didn’t want it.
The [Sixth Floor] Museum’s copy of the May 1963 issue is missing four pages and, since Klein’s ads normally ran in the back half of the magazine, it was likely on one of those pages. But as you can see, the ad for the months before and after May showed the exact same 40-inch rifle.
I don’t know when the American Rifleman normally went to press, but I would think they’d want the new issue to appear on the newsstands and in subscriber’s mailboxes at or shortly before the beginning of each month. That would mean all ad copy must be ready and in the hands of the publisher at least 30 days ahead of time, maybe more.
If Klein’s ran out of 36-inch rifles in January, they might not even have enough time to get a corrected ad in by the March deadline. Maybe that’s why there was no ad in the March issue. Perhaps Klein’s sold out of the Carcano and other weapons and just couldn’t update their new ad before the deadline."
3.) A palmprint belonging to that of Lee Harvey Oswald was discovered on a Mannlicher-Carcano rifle with the serial number C2766 on it after the gun was found on the sixth floor of the Book Depository on November 22, 1963.
Conspiracy theorists can gripe and moan about how this palmprint of Oswald's never really existed at all, but we're still left with the official record in this case, and that record shows us that a palmprint of Oswald's was, in fact, lifted off of rifle C2766 by Dallas Police Lieutenant J.C. Day on 11/22/63, shortly before the weapon was turned over to the FBI late that night [see 4 H 261 and 4 H 24 and this 11/23/63 FBI memo].
4.) In the early 1990s, fingerprint expert Vincent Scalice, by utilizing different methods of fingerprint photo comparison, was able to find well over a dozen points of identity linking the previously unidentified fingerprints on the trigger housing of the C2766 Carcano rifle to Lee Harvey Oswald's comparison prints. [See Part 3 of the 1993 PBS-TV documentary, "Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald?"]
WITH VINCENT SCALICE:
To any reasonable person who evaluates this evidence concerning the fingerprints found near the rifle's trigger, this shows that it's very likely that the last person who touched rifle C2766 prior to its being found on the sixth floor of the Book Depository was Lee Harvey Oswald.
5.) Just days after Klein's shipped rifle C2766 to Oswald/Hidell, Lee Oswald asked his wife, Marina, to take some pictures of him in the backyard of their small Neely Street apartment in Dallas [1 H 15-16].
As near as can be determined, those backyard pictures were taken by Marina Oswald on March 31, 1963. Klein's shipped the rifle to Oswald/Hidell on March 20th. So the timing is just about perfect in that regard. In other words, there was time for the rifle to reach Oswald's Dallas post office box in that 11-day interim.
6.) Photographic experts for the House Select Committee on Assassinations determined that the rifle that Oswald is holding in the backyard photos is "the same weapon" [6 HSCA 66] that was found by police on the sixth floor of the Book Depository on November 22, 1963.
The HSCA determined, therefore, that the rifle being held by Lee Harvey Oswald in the backyard photographs was, in fact, the very same rifle that was determined to be the weapon used to assassinate John F. Kennedy:
"A comparison of identifying marks that exist on the rifle as shown in photographs today with marks shown on the rifle in photographs taken in 1963 indicates both that the rifle in the Archives is the same weapon that Oswald is shown holding in the backyard picture and the same weapon, found by Dallas police, that appears in various postassassination photographs." [6 HSCA 66]
Now, given all of the above evidence (plus adding in just a small amount of common sense to go with it), can any reasonable person really come to a conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald did not own and possess Mannlicher-Carcano rifle #C2766 in the year 1963?
I'll answer that last question myself -- No, they cannot.
Author Vincent Bugliosi made an excellent observation about some conspiracy theorists when he said this in his book "Reclaiming History", which is a quote that fits in nicely when discussing the topic of Oswald's rifle purchase:
"The conspiracy community regularly seizes on one slip of the tongue, misunderstanding, or slight discrepancy to defeat twenty pieces of solid evidence; ...treats rumors, even questions, as the equivalent of proof; leaps from the most minuscule of discoveries to the grandest of conclusions; and insists that the failure to explain everything perfectly negates all that is explained."
For additional discussions concerning Oswald's rifle purchase and the controversy surrounding the documents related to that gun purchase, check out the Internet weblinks located HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.
And also see pages 62-69 of "Beyond Reasonable Doubt: The Warren Report And Lee Harvey Oswald's Guilt And Motive 50 Years On".
David Von Pein
GARRY PUFFER SAID:
From John Armstrong:
"The simple conclusion is that the FBI knowingly obtained this unused, unpaid money order from Postal Inspector Harry Holmes and then provided photographs of this unpaid money order to the Warren Commission. And the Commission knew, in the person of attorney David Belin, that they were offering this unpaid, never deposited money order as proof that Oswald purchased a mail order rifle from Klein's. This unpaid money order is the key to understanding that the FBI and Warren Commission knowingly created the hoax that Oswald purchased a mail order rifle from Klein's that he used to assassinate President Kennedy. This unpaid money order is one of the most important "smoking guns" found in the Warren volumes. It proves that Oswald did not purchase a mail order rifle, and it shows that both the FBI and Warren Commission knew that this unpaid money order had never been cashed or deposited."
DAVID VON PEIN SAID:
The money order (which has OSWALD'S writing all over it; which the conspiracy-happy clowns have ignored for over 50 years) is just ONE piece of the evidence pile that proves Oswald ordered and was shipped Carcano Rifle #C2766. It's not JUST the money order that proves this, and author John Armstrong knows it. There's the order form, the envelope it was mailed in, and (most of all) Waldman #7, which was generated by Klein's on March 13, 1963, which proves they mailed C2766 to Oswald/Hidell. And why the heck would they be mailing a rifle to P.O. Box 2915 if the person ordering it NEVER PAID FOR IT?
The fact the rifle was shipped by Klein's on March 20th, 1963, is proof right there that the rifle was paid for. Otherwise, Klein's would never have shipped it to Post Office Box 2915 in Dallas at all.
But conspiracy theorists like John Armstrong and Garry Puffer will keep on pretending that ALL of that rifle stuff is fake. They look mighty foolish by taking that stance, but they'll keep on doing it---year after year. God only knows why. ~shrug~
David Von Pein
June 15, 2015 (EDT)
SANDY LARSEN SAID:
How was it possible for LHO to have paid for the rifle given that the money order he supposedly used to pay for it was never processed? The proof for this is on the money order itself... or rather, not on it. For the money order has no Federal Reserve Bank markings on its back. Or its front.
If that can't be explained, then what we have here is evidence Oswald was framed.
DAVID VON PEIN SAID:
The C2766 rifle was positively mailed by Klein's to Oswald's P.O. Box in Dallas. Waldman No. 7 proves that fact. And the money order was stamped by Klein's. So Klein's was definitely PAID the $21.45 for the rifle, and Klein's did the processing on their end by depositing it into their bank account. And that money order has Oswald's writing all over it.
Oswald ordered that rifle.
Klein's shipped that rifle to Post Office Box 2915 in Dallas, Texas.
Klein's received payment for that rifle (otherwise, of course, they never would have generated the order form which became Waldman Exhibit No. 7).
SANDY LARSEN SAID:
You completely ignored the fact that the money order had not been processed by a Federal Reserve Bank. As though that isn't an important point.
So I won the debate by default. That's what happens when one doesn't "show up" for a debate.
As for how LHO's handwriting got "all over" the money order, I would suggest the same way my dad's handwriting got all over the excuse notes I wrote to my home-room teacher explaining why I had been absent from school. Forging someone's handwriting isn't necessarily a difficult feat, and isn't an unheard of thing. Given that the money order is evidence that someone was attempting to frame Oswald, as I have demonstrated, it follows that the source of the handwriting be considered suspect as well.
DAVID VON PEIN SAID:
Naturally. Nothing new or surprising there. Everything is "suspect" to a conspiracy theorist.
So, with respect to the evidence and the testimony associated with Lee Harvey Oswald's rifle purchase, the following things would have to be true, according to many CTers....
...William J. Waldman of Klein's was a big fat liar.
...Oswald's writing was forged on the money order.
...Oswald's writing was forged on the American Rifleman magazine order form for the rifle.
...Oswald's writing was forged on the envelope that housed the M.O. and the order form.
...Waldman Exhibit No. 7 is a complete forgery.
...The FBI agents who helped search the Klein's files on late November 22 and early November 23 must have been told to lie their asses off if they were ever to be asked this question: Did you help search the Klein's records in Chicago and were you present when the microfilmed records were found in those files which included an order form clipped from a magazine which had the name "A. Hidell" on it, plus the internal Klein's order blank (Waldman #7), which verified that a rifle bearing the serial number "C2766" was shipped by Klein's to "A. Hidell" at P.O. Box 2915 in Dallas, Texas, on March 20, 1963? .... Because, according to many conspiracy theorists, those FBI agents actually witnessed the retrieval of no such "Hidell" microfilmed records in the Klein's files at all.
...The whole $21.45 money order, in every respect, is a fraudulent document (and not just Oswald's allegedly forged handwriting) --- e.g., the "GPO; Mar. 12" and "$21.45" markings that are stamped on the front of the money order. And the Klein's "Pay to the order" stamp on the back is fake too (i.e., somebody stole Klein's rubber stamp [or created a perfect duplicate] and stamped the phony money order in order to fool everybody into thinking Klein's really did deposit the M.O. into its First National Bank account --- I'd love to see some proof to show that this hunk of fakery ever happened too; but, as always, no CTer on Earth can possibly prove that the "PAY TO THE ORDER" stamp on CE788 is a fraudulent Klein's endorsement).
See how silly this starts to get really fast when you have to pretend that Lee Harvey Oswald never ordered Rifle C2766 from Klein's Sporting Goods? Embarrassing, isn't it?
Regarding the discovery of the original money order that was found in Virginia, hundreds of miles from the offices of Klein's Sporting Goods in Chicago, there are these excerpts from Vincent Bugliosi's book:
"[9:00 AM CST, 11/23/63] Although the FBI already has a microfilmed copy of the money order used to purchase the Carcano rifle, in preparing for trial prosecutors always want the original document. After depositing the money order into its bank account, Klein's, of course, no longer had the original money order.
[7:00 PM CST, 11/23/63] The IBM computers at the U.S. Postal Records Center in Alexandria, Virginia, have been humming for nearly seven hours now...searching for the original money order used to purchase the assassination weapon. There's no telling how many man-hours it might take to do a manual search.
Suddenly, a match is found, and the money order is located. The center rushes the original money order by special courier to the chief of the Secret Service in Washington. A handwriting analysis by a questioned-documents expert for the Department of the Treasury shows that the handwriting on the money order is that of Lee Harvey Oswald.*
If there is one thing that is now unquestionably certain, it is that Lee Harvey Oswald ordered and paid for the Mannlicher-Carcano rifle that was found on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository Building shortly after the assassination."
-- Vincent Bugliosi; Pages 206 and 237 of "Reclaiming History" ©2007
* Sources --- CE1799 @ 23 H 419 and Warren Commission Testimony
of Alwyn Cole @ 4 H 373.
DAVID VON PEIN LATER SAID:
As for the lack of any bank stamps appearing on the back of Oswald's postal money order, I don't have a definitive answer to explain it. But I'd be willing to bet the farm that there IS a reasonable and non-conspiratorial answer to explain the lack of markings on the back of that document without resorting to the conclusion that the money order was manufactured and faked by a group of conspirators in a complicated and intricate effort to frame Lee Harvey Oswald for John F. Kennedy's murder.
And I know that conspiracy theorists who think Oswald never ordered a rifle from Klein's Sporting Goods in early 1963 have a heck of a lot MORE evidence to explain away than I do. Just check my list above.
SANDY LARSEN SAID:
I read the source [used by Bugliosi in the quote seen above], CE 1799. Just a report written by some anonymous person. Not exactly impressive evidence when compared to a missing Federal Reserve Bank stamp.
I don't know where Bugs got the 7 hour computers-humming information.
DAVID VON PEIN SAID:
I'm not sure where Vince Bugliosi got the "7 hours" information either, but I think it's a reasonable figure. Vincent's "7 hours" remark comes in his chronological examination of the events as presented by Mr. Bugliosi in his "Four Days In November" chapter of "Reclaiming History", and Vince has it listed as something that took place at about 7:00 PM CST on Saturday, November 23rd, which was well more than 24 hours after the President's assassination. That would mean that people in Alexandria would have started searching for the original money order at around 12:00 Noon (Dallas time) on November 23. Sounds about right to me.
However, there is a document which provides a lot of additional details about the discovery of the original postal money order that was found in Alexandria, Virginia, on the night of 11/23/63. It's a four-page Secret Service report that appears in Commission Document No. 87, HERE.
RAY MITCHAM SAID:
From "Harvey and Lee" by John Armstrong:
"All US Postal Money orders have unique serial numbers. In the fall of 1962, Oswald purchased numerous money orders from the same downtown post office and mailed them to Washington, DC in order to repay a loan from the government for his travel expenses incurred when he returned to the USA from Russia. These money orders were purchased in numerical sequence beginning in November, 1962. These serial numbers show that some 1200 money orders per week were purchased at the downtown post office in Dallas. At this rate we see that Oswald's alleged purchase of a money order on March 12, 1963 should have been numbered 2,202,011,935. But the serial number of the money order published in the Warren Volumes was more than 118,000 numbers higher. At the rate of 1200 money order per week, this money order should have been purchased in late 1964 or early 1965. In other words, this money order could easily have been pulled from a stack of fresh, unsold money orders by a postal official in Dallas, sometime after the assassination, and then given to the FBI. A close look at the details surrounding the "finding" of the money order the day after the assassination strongly suggests that this is what happened."
[-- John Armstrong]
Any comments, Dave?
DAVID VON PEIN SAID:
Why couldn't the Dallas post office have simply run out out of their supply of blank U.S. Postal money orders shortly before Oswald purchased his M.O. on March 12th? It's fairly obvious to me that that is what happened.
Does John Armstrong really think that the Dallas post office had an unlimited supply of money orders on hand at all times? How silly.
At some point, the supply of money orders would run low and the Dallas post office would replenish its stock. And when they do get fresh stock, the serial numbers are, of course, going to be much higher than the ones they just ran out of, since they are "U.S. POSTAL MONEY ORDERS" with unique serial numbers attached to each one and are being continuously supplied to post offices and other institutions all around the entire country, not just the Main Post Office branch in Dallas, Texas.
Why on Earth is my above "Ran out of stock and simply replenished their supply with money orders that obviously would have much higher serial numbers" explanation not even to be considered by conspiracy theorists like John Armstrong?
BTW, HERE'S another official document (an FBI FD-302 report this time) which verifies that U.S. Postal Money Order #2,202,130,462, signed by "A. Hidell", was in the possession of the FBI in Washington on November 24, 1963 (the date in the lower left corner of the report).
A quote from that FBI report:
"This money order was hand carried to the FBI Laboratory where it was turned over to Special Agent James T. Freeman."
David Von Pein
"Despite over forty years of allegations by Mark Lane and other conspiracy theorists, if there is one thing even a child should walk away from this case knowing for sure, it's that only one rifle was found in the Texas School Book Depository and that rifle, a Mannlicher-Carcano, serial number C2766, was bought and paid for by Lee Harvey Oswald."
-- Vincent T. Bugliosi; Page 794 of "Reclaiming History: The Assassination Of President John F. Kennedy" (2007)