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Oswald's pistol

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Can anyone who has access to the 26 vols. please look up or if you already know, tell me if the pistol that was supposedly taken from LHO in the Texas Theatre have a defective firing pin?

Thanks in advance


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Mike, it doesn't matter. Oswald never had it to start with. Look at what the cops ere saying to the media...

McDonald WFAA-TV interview, Nov 23, 1963:

Q: Patrolman McDonald, in your experience with suspects and in the capture of such individuals, did you dind anything unique or strange or different about Lee Harvey Oswald?

McDonald: Well, not anything you can put your finger on, but he acted like anyone else would if they were carrying a pistol, because he reached for it immediately as soon as I grabbed a hold of him and my experience with suspects of this nature, they're all pretty calm unless they have recently or within a few minutes have committed some sort of crime. But he had time enough between the time he had in suspected [sic] of killing of JD Tippit to control his nature and was quite calm and cool.

--->No mention of any attempted murder... no mention even of a struggle. He does not even say Oswald actually drew his gun... only that he "reached for it." Quite calmly and coolly, apparently.

Q: Did you realise at the time that you may be capturing the man who quite possibly could be charged and perhaps convicted of assassinating the President?

McDonald: Well, I had no link in that at all because I didn't know. I was just looking for this suspect that we had a meager description of, that had shot and killed officer JD Tippit. And, I didn't have any association with the shooting of the President at all with this particular suspect.

--->No idea???? This is from Vic Robertson's WCT:

Mr. GRIFFIN. At the time you opened up the curtains and looked out, did you have any idea that this might be the man who would be accused of shooting the President?

Mr. ROBERTSON. If I hadn't, I wouldn't have been there.

--->So the media knew, but the cops didn't?

Q. How do you feel now that Oswald has been formally charged with the

assassination of the President?

McDonald: Well, I feel relieved quite a bit because the whole nation has recorded this shock and I'm glad that we caught him here in Dallas instead of waiting around here later on.

Q: Dallas has every right to be proud of its police department today. We have been talking with Detective Paul Bentley and Patrolman MD McDonald, two of the men who played a key role in the capture of Lee Harvey Oswald, the man who Dallas Police now believe is the man who murdered President John Kennedy.


In an article written that same day for the Associated Press, McDonald was quoted as saying:

"I noticed about 10 to 15 people sitting in the treater and they were spread out good. A man sitting near the front, and I still don't know who it was, tipped me the man I wanted was sitting in the third row from the rear on the ground floor and not in the balcony (as reported to the police dispatcher).

--->So who was this mystery man with supernatural abilities?

--->This is what this lying fat pig told the WC:

Mr. McDonald.

Officer Hawkins, T. A. Hutson, and C. T. Walker. And as we got inside the door, we were met by a man that was in civilian clothes, a suit, and he told us that the man that acted suspiciously as he ran into the theater was sitting downstairs in the orchestra seats, and not in the balcony. He was sitting at the rear of the theater alone. Officer Walker and I went to the exit curtains that is to the left of the movie screen. I looked into the audience. I saw the person that the shoe store salesman had pointed out to us.

Mr. Ball.

Were the lights on or off?

Mr. McDonald.

The lights were up, and the movie was playing at this time.

Mr. Ball.

And could you see to the rear of the theater?

Mr. McDonald.

Yes, sir.

Mr. Ball.

You could see the man. Did the civilian point out to you the man in one of the rear seats?

Mr. McDonald.

He didn't point out personally. He was pointing out the suspect to another officer with him on the right of the stage, just right of the movie screen.

--->Now the seated patron turns out to be a standing Brewer... and it

wasn't McDonald who had the suspect pointed out to him, it was another cop.

--->Back to the Associated Press article:

I went up the aisle and talked to two people sitting about in the middle. I was crouching low and holding my gun in case any trouble came. I wanted to be ready for it.

--->Bingo! He had his own gun drawn. Now compare to his WCT:

Mr. Ball.

What did you do then?

Mr. McDonald.

Well, after seeing him, I noticed the other people in the theater--there was approximately 10 or 15 other people seated throughout the theater. There were two men sitting in the center, about 10 rows from the front. I walked up the left center aisle into the row behind these two men, and Officer C. T. Walker was behind me. When I got to these two men, I told them to get on their feet. They got up. I searched them for a weapon. I looked over my shoulder and the suspect that had been pointed out to me. He remained seated without moving, just looking at me.

---> Now you see it, now you don't! Why? Because with his own gun drawn he

can't be in a fight, or holding LHO with one hand and grappling for Lee's pistol with the other.

--->Back to the article:

I walked up the aisle and turned in Oswald's row. We were no more than a foot from each other when he suddenly stood up and raised both hands. "It's all over now," he told me. Then he hit me a pretty good one in the face with his fist. I saw him going for his gun and I grabbed him around the waist. We struggled and fell around the seats for a few seconds and I got my hand on the butt of his pistol. But he had his hand on the trigger. I was pulling the gun toward me and I heard the hammer click. The primer (which detonates the bullet) was dented and it didn't fire...I'm sure glad that shell didn't fire."

--->Okay... so let's compare that to what Det Paul Bentley was telling the audience of KRLD that same day (12/23/63).

Bentley: His left hand reached for the pistol with his right hand and as he reached for his pistol [???] I grabbed him along with two or three other officers. He fought with like a wild man [but hadn't Saint Nick assured WFAA that Oswald was "calm and cool"???] and we finally subdued him and took him out and put him in the police car and brought him in to the Homicide Bureau.

Q: Who did he aim the gun at?

Bentley: The gun wasn't necessarily aimed, it was started, he started to pull it up to aim and Officer McDonald had a hold of his, of his gun, I had a hold of his right arm, we ["we"???] got a thumb or something in between the hammer and the firing pin so that [illegible] the firing, it just snapped slightly and kept it from going off.

Q: It didn't misfire. In other words you prevented it from firing?

Bentley: Yes. My hand was across it preventing it from firing.

---So who was it that got a sore digit? McDonald or Bentley. For crying out loud, surely the pain it caused made it easy to work out who?

Q: But there was a bullet in the chamber?

Bentley: Definitely so, it had been hit with the firing pin but not enough to go off.

Q: Did he say what was reported about he got him a president?

Bentley: No sir. I didn't hear that.

Q: What did he say after he was arrested?

Bentley: He just said, "This is it. It's all over now."

--->Ooops. Wasn't that what Lee was supposed to have said to McDonald PRIOR

to his arrest and PRIOR to the arrival of the cavalry?

--->Skip some stuff... and onto to this:

Q: Did you say you put your thumb or finger on him?

Bentley: Don't know. It was in the scuffle there. We don't know if it was my thumb, finger, or hand. I got a bruised hand from it. I don't know wether it was the thumb or the finger.

--->Looks like it really was a case of crossed wires on their story, no?

Let's leave aside the propriety of cops aiding (or encouraging) a trial by media. What do these lies really indicate?

Cops are obvervant by training, and usually by nature. They are supposed to be able to factually note what they see and what they do. That is just basic to the job. Any excuse that the discrepancies here are the result of faulty memory just don't wash.

And what of Oswald? We know he offered to shake the hand of Bringiuer when

shoved by him during his leafleting... a tactic straight out of the "peaceful resister's" manual. We know he handled his interrogation by the NOPD exceptionally well. We know he requested to see an FBI agent... yet later would refer to the FBI as "notorious" and act as if he were fearful of them. We know he handled his interrogation by the DPD/SS/FBI etc exceptionally well... the all admitted this. And we know that there was training available on how to do that. It is almost impossible to explain how a 23 year old like Oswald could handle himself under such pressure WITHOUT this type of training.

What has always remained in doubt is how he handled his arrest in the TT.

So allow me to slip into some speculation here: McDonald DID have his gun drawn. McDonald knew though that Oswald was unarmed, and may not have approached with his own in view. Indeed, he approached Oswald hoping - or even trying to tempt him to make a run for it. Oswald for his part, knew exactly why they were there. He also knew about Texas justice, and didn't take the bait. The "fight" which ensued was all about McDonald trying to put the pistol in Lee's hand. If he wouldn't run, he could still shoot him anyway in "self defence". Again Lee wasn't falling for it. He FORCED them to take him alive by shouting out that he wasn't resisting arrest. If this is anywhere near what happened - then once again - it would show that Oswald had been specially trained for just such situations.

The ONLY person with a weapon drawn on them was Oswald. This is what reporter Jim Ewell observed: "What I’m describing is what appeared to be a football play from above. John Toney remembered that some officer screamed out that they were breaking his arm. Another officer, Paul Bentley, the Chief Polygraph Examiner for the Dallas Police Department, who was well known to us all, came out of there with a broken ankle. What I saw rather astounded me. Someone was trying to hold the barrel of a shotgun, or train the barrel of a shotgun down among the heads of these officers. I thought, “What’s he going to do with the shotgun?” I didn’t know what was going on, but this person was holding a shotgun; I did see that. And it all happened in a matter of seconds!" Of course, it was Oswald in the middle of that police scrum...

Edited by Greg Parker
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--->No mention of any attempted murder... no mention even of a struggle. He does not even say Oswald actually drew his gun... only that he "reached for it." Quite calmly and coolly, apparently.

I have always taken it on faith that during his arrest at the Texas Theater, Lee Harvey Oswald took out his gun and attempted to shoot arresting Officer M.N. McDonald. This is based on accounts of an audible "snap" that was heard. Later, we read accounts that the only reason Oswald's attempted murder of McDonald didn't succeed because of a bent primer or a "misfire"

I would like to contend that perhaps the "snap" that was heard was either the sound of something else, or was accidently caused by the officers seeing the gun and immediately reacting to take it away from Oswald and that Oswald did not attempt to shoot Officer McDonald.

I say this for the following three reasons:


Here are the accounts of the arresting officers filed with Police Chief Curry on Decembers 2 - 5, 1963.

They can be found in the DAllas Police Archives, Box 2, Folder# 7


E.L. Cunningham: "When I reached the seating area on the main floor, several officers were in the process of disarming and handcuffing the suspect. ...I did not see anything that indicated that any more force was used than was absolutely necessary to effect the arrest".

Paul Bentley: "Just as I entered the lower floor, I saw Patrolman McDonald fighting with this suspect. I saw this suspect pull a pistol from his shirt, so I went to Patrolman McDonald's aid immediately"

Bob Carroll: "When I arrived at the lower floor, Lee Harvey Oswald was resisting vigorously"...At this time I observed a pistol with the muzzle pointed in my direction. I grabbed the pistol and stuck it in my belt..."

Ray Hawkins: "The subject stood up and as Officer McDonald started to search him, he struck Officer McDonald in the face. The subject and Offcier McDonald began to fight and both fell down in the seats. Officer Walker and I ran toward the subject and grabbed him by his left arm. The subject had reached in his belt for a gun and Officer McDoanld was holding his right hand with the gun in it".

T.A. Hutson: "As I entered the row of seats behind the suspect he jumped up and hit Officer McDonald in the face with his fist, Officer McDonald was in the seat next to the one in which the suspect was originally sitting, and the suspect was up out of his seat struggling with Officer McDonald. I reached over the back of the seats and placed my right arm around the suspect's neck and pulled him up on back of the seat. Officer C.T. WAlker came up and was struggling with the suspect's left hand, and as Officer McDonald struggled with with the suspect's right hand, he moved it to his waist and drew a pistol and as Officer McDonald tried to disarm the suspect, I heard the pistol snap".

K.E. Lyon: "Enroute to the City Hall, Oswald refused to answer all questions. and he kept repeating, "Why am I being arrested? I know I was carrying a gun, but why else am I being arrested"?

M.N. McDonald: "When I got within a foot of him, I told the suspect to get to his feet. He stood up immediately, bringing his hands up about shoulder high and saying, "Well it's over now". I was reaching for his waist and he struck me on the nose with his left hand. With his right hand, he reached for his waist and both our hands were on a pistol that was stuck in his belt under his shirt. We both fell into the seats struggling for the pistol. ... I managed to get my right hand on the pistol over the suspect's hand. I could feel his hand on the trigger. I then got a secure grip on the butt of the pistol. I jerked the pistol and as it was clearing the suspect's clothing and grip I heard the snap of the hammer and the pistol crossed over my left cheek, causing a four inch scratch".

As you can see from reading these reports, at no time in the first 10 to 12 days following the assassination, did any of the arresting officers on the scene claim that Oswald tried to shoot M.N. McDonald. If the pistol did go off and cause a "snap" of the hammer falling into place, it was because McDonald jerked it out of Oswald's pants.


When questioned by Captain Fritz on the afternoon of November 22nd, Fritz did not accuse Oswald of trying to shoot Officer McDonald.

Fritz (4H214)

Mr. FRITZ. He told me he went over and caught a bus and rode the bus to North Beckley near where he lived and went by home and changed clothes and got his pistol and went to the show. I asked him why he took his pistol and he said, "Well, you know about a pistol; I just carried it." Let's see if I asked him anything else right that minute. That is just about it.

Mr. BALL. Did you ask him if he killed Tippit?

Mr. FRITZ. Sir?

Mr. BALL. Did you ask him if he shot Tippit?

Mr. FRITZ. Oh, yes.

Mr. BALL. What did he say.

Mr. FRITZ. He denied it---that he did not. The only thing he said he had done wrong, "The only law I violated was in the show; I hit the officer in the show; he hit me in the eye and I guess I deserved it." He said, "That is the only law I violated." He said, "That is the only thing I have done wrong."


If Oswald had attempted to shoot Officer McDonald, why were no charges of attempted murder filed as they were in the case of Governor Connally?

I believe that the account of Oswald trying to shoot McDonald was invented after the fact.

Steve Thomas

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Hi Steve,

Seems we agree McDonald lied... it's just in the extent of the lies that we differ.

Here is some testimony on the "snap".

Mr. McDONALD. It felt like something had grazed across my hand. I felt

movement there. And that was the only movement I felt. And I heard a snap. I

didn't know what it was at the time.

---> McDonald didn't know what it was.

MR HAWKINS. Officer McDonald grabbed the pistol, and the best I can

remember, Sergeant Hill, who had gotten there, said, "I've got the gun," and

he took the gun and we handcuffed Oswald.

Mr. BALL. Did you hear any snap of the hammer?

Mr. HAWKINS. I heard something that I thought was a snap. I didn't know

whether it was a snap of a pistol -- I later learned that they were sure it

was. I didn't know whether it was a snap of the gun or whether it was in the

seats someone making the noise.

---> Hawkins thought it was a pistol or a seat snapping back.

Mr. BELIN. When you heard a click, what kind of click was it?

Mr. WALKER. A real light click, real light.

Mr. BELIN. Was it a click of the seat?

Mr. WALKER. Well, I assume it was a click of a revolver on the shell, and

that is when the gun was doing the most moving around. It was moving around

in the general area, and they were still fighting. And some one said, "Let

go of the gun," and Oswald said, "I can't." And a detective, I don't recall who it was, there were so many people around by that time, the area was bursting with policemen, and it appeared to me that he reached over and pulled the gun away from everybody, pulled it away from everyone, best I can recall.

---> Walker assumed it was the gun.

Mr. HUTSON. Sounded like the snap of a pistol, to me, when a pistol snaps. .

. . The gun was taken from the suspect's hand by Officer McDonald and

somebody else. I couldn't say exactly. They were all in on the struggle, and

Officer Hawkins, in other words, he simultaneously, we decided to handcuff


---Hutson said gun.

Mr. BALL. You heard the snap of a gun?

Mr. APPLIN. Yes, sir.

Mr. BALL. Are you familiar with guns?

Mr. APPLIN. Well, yes, sir; I am familiar with a few guns.

Mr. BALL. Pistols? Have you ever shot a pistol?

Mr. APPLIN. Yes, sir; I have shot my daddy's nine-shot .22 pistol.

Mr. BALL. Sounded like a hammer of a pistol failing?

Mr. APPLIN. Yes, sir

--->Applin said gun.

Mr. GIBSON. Well, just like I guess you have heard this a lot of times --

the gun misfired -- it clicked and about the same time there was one police

officer that positively had him.

Mr. BALL. What do you mean -- "had him"?

Mr. GIBSON. Well, I mean he grabbed ahold of him.

Mr. BALL. Did he grab ahold of him before you heard the click or afterwards?

Mr. GIBSON. Gee, that's a question that's kind of hard to answer because I

would say possibly seconds before or a second -- maybe at the precise time

the gun clicked. It happened pretty fast and like I say, I just went in to

eat a hot-dog for lunch and I wasn't expecting any of this.

---Gibson said gun.

Trouble with it being the revolver is that the WC's expert testified that the hammer never touched the shell.

The the "thumb" or "hand" wedged story is no better since, within days, both McDonald and Bentley were taking credit for owning the "thumb" or "hand" in question.

And we have 3 candidates either taking credit, or being nominated as the person who took the revolver off Oswald: McDonald, an un-named detective (Hill)... the third one is un-recalled at the moment...

Did Oswald have a pistol in the TT? I don't think so, but I'm not as certain on this point as I am about other aspects of the case.

Apart from what I've already said, here are some additional reasons:

McDonald had charged into the library with a shotgun to arrest that particular suspect. Why didn't he do the same at the TT? I believe it was because he now had the pistol he was going to plant, and he couldn't skulk up the aisle with a shotgun in one hand and a pistol in the other - he'd have had no way of picking his nose :)

McDonald was far from the first to arrive at the TT - yet no cops went in until this LOWLY patrolman arrived - then let him take charge of the situation!!!??? Why? Because he had the plant weapon.

You mention Oswald not being charged with attempted murder - and that's a damn good point. Maybe I've watched too many cop shows, but I always thought standard MO was to charge a suspect with any convenient offence you could possibly charge them with so that they could be held whilst evidence is gathered on the more serious charges. Now ***if*** Oswald had a pistol - and ***if*** having it concealed was an offence (and I tend to think it was) then he could/should and surely would have been charged with that as well.

Others arrested that day on suspicion all had "investigate conspiracy to murder" or similar on their charge sheets as well as MINOR charges eg vagrancy, tresspass etc... but not Oz. Nosireee.

Lastly, Earlene Roberts cleaned his room and never saw any hint of any weapons in there - and let's face it... there would not have been too many hiding places for a pistol, holster, bullets etc in a Oak Cliff boarding house room in '63...

like I said... not wedded to the idea that McDonald tried to plant the pistol on him, but on balance I do tend to think that the official line on it was BS - just like everyting else they said about the arrest.

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McDonald was far from the first to arrive at the TT - yet no cops went in until this LOWLY patrolman arrived - then let him take charge of the situation!!!??? Why? Because he had the plant weapon.

My take on the situation has been that McDonald made a serious error in judgement. He saw the pistol in Oswald's waistban and made a grab for it. Oswald reacted by slugging him. The other policemen tried to cover up for McDonald's mistake.

Again, that's just my take on it.

BTW, I read somewhere (maybe Playboy's interview with Mark Lane) that McDonald and Tippit shared a locker at the station.

Steve Thomas

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I guess what I was looking at, is if the gun that was supposedly taken from LHO in the Texas Theatre had a bent firing pin, then how could it have fired in order to kill Tippit? Obviously or at least in my opinion if the gun had a bent firing pin when it was taken from LHO, then it must have had a bent firing pin at the time of the Tippit killing. Unless Ozzie bent the pin after he killed Tippet. Could a firing pin become bent by firing a cartridge? I'm just wondering, I'm not saying anything about what happened when LHO was arrested I'm just trying to get it straight in my mind as to what condition the firing pin was in at the time of his arrest.

Thanks so far for all the info!!!!


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Sorry for getting things a bit off track, Mike.

Here is some testimony on the pistol from the FBI expert, Cunningham:

Mr. EISENBERG. Mr. Cunningham, this weapon--was this weapon sold into the United States after it had been used in England?

Mr. CUNNINGHAM. Yes, sir.

Mr. EISENBERG. How much sign of use does it show?

Mr. CUNNINGHAM. It has definitely been used, there is no doubt. However, the cylinder is quite tight, and I would say that this weapon is in good operating condition.


Mr. EISENBERG. What time did you fire those bullets, those .38 Special bullets in this revolver?

Mr. CUNNINGHAM. At approximately 8:15 this morning.

I believe the "snap" was Oswald's seat snapping back. I remember those old style theatre seats well... they did make an audible click when you stood and they sprang back.


ps the 26 volumes are online. Do a google search for "history matters"

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  • 2 weeks later...
Sorry for getting things a bit off track, Mike.

Here is some testimony on the pistol from the FBI expert, Cunningham:

Mr. EISENBERG. Mr. Cunningham, this weapon--was this weapon sold into the United States after it had been used in England?

    Mr. CUNNINGHAM. Yes, sir.

    Mr. EISENBERG. How much sign of use does it show?

    Mr. CUNNINGHAM. It has definitely been used, there is no doubt. However, the cylinder is quite tight, and I would say that this weapon is in good operating condition.



Mr. EISENBERG. What time did you fire those bullets, those .38 Special bullets in this revolver?

    Mr. CUNNINGHAM. At approximately 8:15 this morning.

I believe the "snap" was Oswald's seat snapping back. I remember those old style theatre seats well... they did make an audible click when you stood and they sprang back.


ps the 26 volumes are online. Do a google search for "history matters"



1) I never saw that revolver in Lee's possession. He owned a different .38 in New Orleans.

2) WHY would Lee not carry the revolver in his holster, since leaving the holster behind would 'prove' he had a revolver, wouldn't it?

3) it was a snub-nosed revolver... Lee did not like snub nosed revolvers... because they fell out, he said, if you tried to stuff them into your pants AND then walk or run with them...they tendedto fall out!

So I ask you, why would Lee pull a snub-nose OUT of the holster when his long jacket-like shirt would cover the holster? To stuff the revolver in his pants, when running with a snub nose meant he would have to hold onto it with one hand so it would not fall out of his pants?

NOTE: you can't plant a revolver WITH its holster on somebody...you would have to leave the holster behind...

4) why would Lee keep cartridges in his shirt pocket ...that escaped the first search altogether... escaped notice during the first search of the accused cop killer, no less...but the cartridges are found hours later in his shirt pocket... oh, really?

5) why would Lee KEEP this revolver, which supposedly was used to shoot Tippit, on his person instead of discarding it as he did the jacket? Why not the revolver, also? At least, when he was in the dark of the theater-- WHY would he keep the revolver on his person, to say nothing of HIDELL ID that could be traced to a Hidell order form? He was ready enough to defend himself with his fists, after all.

6) Why would Lee Oswald react when a policeman reached for his belt? If the revolver was being planted on him at that time, this was his ONLY option, or otherwise, it would be thrust into his belt...until then, note that Lee did not react....

7) the struggle for the revolver also may have been Lee's desperate effort to make sure he was not shot with the revolver...

8) Even while being beaten, Lee had the sense to yell he was not resisting arrest, which made it impossible to shoot him in front of witnesses, no matter how many police were crushing him...read how many pulled him down...and how they were choking him, etc.

9) The ever-changing story of McDonald, and the fact that everybody waited for HIM to 'arrest' Lee...must be contrasted with this: they should have considered Lee as potentially armed and dangerous, as the Tippit killer...

10) why, then, did they treat Lee Oswald as an unarmed man?

11) If Lee had shot Tippit, what would have stopped him, when he saw the police, from drawing his weapon and having a shootout with them in the theater? How did the police know it would be safe to approach the "cop killer"?

12) The revolver conveniently had a problem with the firing pin, although it conveniently worked just fine to kill Tippit... but this would make the revolver a safe weapon to plant on Lee Oswald, who could not use it to hurt a police officer. The bullet impingement by the firing pin could have been tested several times to make sure it would just not fire.

13) the .38 snub nose revolver was a favorite choice of Dallas policemen for off-duty weapons, I was told by one Dallas policeman...it would be interesting to follow this up.

Judyth Vary Baker

Edited by Judyth Baker
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