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Infamous Assassins and Their Weapons

History's assassins have wielded a variety of deadly weapons. Here are the guns and other lethal means used by Lee Harvey Oswald, John Wilkes Booth, Gavrilo Princip, Charles Guiteau, Jack Ruby, Sirhan Sirhan, Leon Czolgosz, Mark David Chapman, James Earl Ray, Byron De La Beckwith and other assassins.

History's most infamous assassins have used a variety of weapons to carry out their deeds. Here are 15 notorious assassins and their lethal means of execution.

Lee Harvey Oswald (1939-1963)

  • Date: November 22, 1963
  • Place: Dallas, Texas
  • Victims: President John F. Kennedy, Texas Governor John Connally (survived), Dallas Police officer J.D. Tippit
  • Weapons: 6.5 x 52 mm Italian-made Carcano M91/38 bolt-action military rifle with six-round magazine and 4 x 18 mounted telescopic sight (Kennedy, Connally); Smith & Wesson "Victory" Model .38 Special (Tippit)

Lee Harvey Oswald's Carcano rifle is held up by Dallas Police lieutenant J. Carl Day (Lawrence Schiller)

John Wilkes Booth (1838-1865)

  • Date: April 14, 1865
  • Place: Washington, D.C.
  • Victims: President Abraham Lincoln, Major Henry Rathbone (survived)
  • Weapons: Single-shot .44 caliber Philadelphia Derringer with 2 1/2-inch barrel (Lincoln); horn-handled hunting knife with 7 1/8-inch blade and accompanying sheath with the words "Liberty" and "America" engraved on blade (Rathbone)

Gavrilo Princip (1894-1918)

  • Date: June 28, 1914
  • Place: Sarajevo, Austria-Hungary
  • Victims: Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and wife Sophie Duchess of Hohenberg, Eric von Merizzi (survived), Count Ludwig Joseph von Boos (survived), approximately 12 others (all survived)
  • Weapons: Model 1910 9mm Browning Short automatic pistol (Ferdinand, Sophie); homemade bombs hurled by co-conspirator Nedljko Cabrinovic (Merizzi, Boos and about a dozen spectators in the crowd hit by shrapnel)

Gavrilo Princip's Browning pistol (Cinque Terre Liguria)

Charles J. Guiteau (1841-1882)

  • Date: July 2, 1881
  • Place: Washington, D.C.
  • Victim: President James A. Garfield
  • Weapon: Webley British Bulldog .442 revolver

Jack Ruby (1911-1967)

  • Date: November 24, 1963
  • Place: Dallas, Texas
  • Victim: Accused JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald
  • Weapon: Colt Cobra .38 snub-nosed revolver

Jack Ruby, foreground, moves forward with his .38 snub-nosed revolver to shoot Lee Harvey Oswald at Dallas Police Headquarters (Wikimedia)

Sirhan B. Sirhan (1944-)

  • Date: June 5, 1968
  • Place: Los Angeles, California
  • Victims: New York senator Robert F. Kennedy, Paul Schrade of the United Auto Workers union (survived), William Weisel of ABC-TV (survived), Ira Goldstein of Continental News Service (survived), Elizabeth Evans friend of Kennedy aide Pierre Salinger (survived), teenage Kennedy volunteer Irwin Stroll (survived)
  • Weapon: Iver-Johnson Cadet .22 revolver

Leon Czolgosz (1873-1901)

  • Date: September 6, 1901
  • Place: Buffalo, New York
  • Victim: President William McKinley
  • Weapon: Iver-Johnson .22 revolver

Mark David Chapman (1955-)

  • Date: December 8, 1980
  • Place: New York City
  • Victim: Ex-Beatle John Lennon
  • Weapon: Charter Arms Special short-barrel five-shot .38 revolver

James Earl Ray (1928-1998)

  • Date: April 4, 1968
  • Place: Memphis, Tennessee
  • Victim: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Weapon: Remington Gamemaster 760 .30-06 rifle with mounted Redfield 2 x 7 scope

James Earl Ray wanted poster (Federal Bureau of Investigation)

Byron De La Beckwith (1920-2001)

  • Date: June 12, 1963
  • Place: Jackson, Mississippi
  • Victim: Civil rights leader Medgar W. Evers
  • Weapon: Enfield 1917 .303 rifle

Nathuram Godse (1910-1949)

  • Date: January 30, 1948
  • Place: New Delhi, India
  • Victim: Mohandas Gandhi
  • Weapon: Beretta semi-automatic .38 pistol

Yigal Amir (1970-)

  • Date: November 4, 1995
  • Place: Tel Aviv, Israel
  • Victim: Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin
  • Weapon: Beretta 84F .380 ACP semi-automatic pistol

Habib Shartouni (1958-)

  • Date: September 14, 1982
  • Place: Beirut, Lebanon
  • Victims: Lebanese president-elect Bachir Gemayel and 26 others
  • Weapon: 40-50 kilograms of high explosives with remote detonator

Thomas McMahon (1948-)

  • Date: August 27, 1979
  • Place: Sligo Bay, Ireland
  • Victims: Lord Louis Mountbatten, Nicholas Knatchbull, Paul Maxwell, Baroness Brabourne, Timothy Knatchbull (survived), John Knatchbull/Lord Brabourne (survived), Patricia Knatchbull (survived)
  • Weapon: 23 kilogram bomb with radio-controlled detonator

John Patler (1938-)

  • Date: August 25, 1967
  • Place: Arlington, Virginia
  • Victim: American Nazi Party leader George Lincoln Rockwell
  • Weapon: Mauser semi-automatic pistol

Top Image

  • John Wilkes Booth assassinates Abraham Lincoln at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C. (Currier & Ives)

Copyright © 2012 William J. Felchner. All rights reserved. 

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Comments (2)
Ranked #51 in History

Very interesting subject. I once read that all "famous assassins had at some time or another been treated by psychiatrists, I wonder if it's true.

Ranked #1 in History

Great piece.

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