(A)30-year gun control lull came to an abrupt end on November 22, 1963, with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Lee Harvey Oswald had purchased his rifle, a Mannticher-Carcano, through an ad placed in the NRA's American Rifleman magazine. The ad read:
LATE ISSUE! 6.5 ITALIAN CARBINE. Only 36" overall, weighs only 5 1/2 pounds. Shows only slight use, lightly oiled, test fired and head spaced, ready for shooting. Turned down bolt, thumb safety, 6-shot, clip fed. Rear down sight. Fast loading and fast firing.
On March 12,1963, Oswald mailed the ad's coupon and a postal money order for $21.45 ($19.95 plus $1.50 postage and handling) to Klein's Sporting Goods Co. in Chicago. The gun was shipped via parcel post the same month.
According to journalist Robert Sherrill in his 1973 book, The Saturday Night Special, the NRA not only facilitated Oswald's gun purchase, but also aided in the development of the ammunition that would make this notoriously inaccurate gun more effective. During World War II the United States seized huge numbers of the rifles. When the government later decided to give a quantity of the guns to Greek anti-Communists, it worked with the NRA at Maryland's Aberdeen Proving Grounds to develop higher-quality ammunition that would improve the gun's accuracy. Some of the ammo eventually made its way onto the U.S. market and into Oswald's hands. When NRA Executive Vice President Franklin Orth told this story to a Senate staffer in the 1960s, he added, "Please don't tell anybody because we don't want to be hung with having been involved in producing the ammunition that killed the President."16Quoted from "Soldiers to Lobbyists" by the Violence Policy Center: http://www.vpc.org/nrainfo/chapter1.html.
Internet and weak control laws today make it just as easy to buy weapons, now automatic, extremely rapid fire assault weapons. And as we have since JFK's assassination, today we all suffer the tragic results cheap easily obtained guns forever.
For Bay Area Houston, our nation and the world, we lost Kennedy's optimism, support for public service and vision to advance space exploration. Today's negativism, government shut downs and space malaise are evidence of the ever-widening crack begun on Nov. 22, 1963. The tragic results last forever.