It’s 60 years since President John F Kennedy was assassinated. A shocking event that shaped the 1960s and has divided opinion ever since – spawning a cottage industry of conspiracy theories. Watching the Zapruder tape – the home video of a spectator that day – never ceases to shock. The first magic bullet, as it came to be known, followed by a second more devastating hit that finished off the president.
The first bullet is referred to as “magic” by some because its supposed trajectory even provoked dissenting views on the Warren Commission, set up to investigate the assassination during a presidential motorcade in Dallas, Texas in November 1963. This video below I’ve just put up looks at the issues with some visuals – my blog post continues below.
What did the magic bullet do that has divided opinion?
As I explain in the video, the magic bullet had to pass through Kennedy’s back, exit under his Adam’s Apple, and then pass through the Governor of Texas, John Connally, who was seated in front of Kennedy in the limousine. The bullet shattered one of Connally’s ribs, broke his wrist radius bone and landed in his left thigh. Some think the bullet had to zig-zag – implausibly – to do that while others have confirmed one shot could have done all that.
The single magic bullet theory is important because it confirms that only one man fired at President Kennedy. There were no mysterious armed figures on the now infamous grassy knoll – just the assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository in Dealey Plaza. The magic bullet incapacitated Kennedy and injured Connally. Then the second blew open the President’s head.
This is a diagram of the bullet behaving as the Warren Commission described:
And this diagram summarises the view of opponents of the magic bullet theory who ridicule the supposed trajectory:
It’s clear that only one view can prevail and the majority opinion has tended to favour the Warren Commission analysis.
DISCOVER: Five biggest conspiracy theories
Criticisms of the magic bullet theory
From the moment the Warren Commission concluded its investigations, critics moved in to try and tear apart the JFK magic bullet theory. Their arguments included the following:
- The bullet hole in Kennedy’s neck was an entry wound, not an exit wound
- Governor Connolly is quoted stating that he did not believe the first bullet struck him
- Witnesses on the day said they heard shots coming from a nearby “grassy knoll”
- The assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, was said to be a poor marksman
- Oswald’s gun was of poor quality and the ammunition was unreliable
- Three bullets could not have been fired in 5.6 seconds
- There had to be 2.3 seconds between each shot given the nature of the weapon
More fundamentally, what underlies criticism of the magic bullet theory is the view that Kennedy’s assassination was part of a wider plot. That Lee Harvey Oswald was a fall guy, a patsy, delivered up to hide darker forces at work. These forces are claimed to have been either the mafia, Cuban exiles, the Soviet Union, and even figures within the US establishment and intelligence services.
So, disproving the JFK magic bullet theory isn’t just about ballistics but is intended to confirm a much broader theme of Kennedy having murderous enemies who were out to kill him.