From time to time, one finds oneself in the position to learn about modern times through the lens of history. Perhaps something that happens today might seem odd, or unprecedented, but with a clearer understanding of historical events, might not seem so out of place after all. For instance, a police officer claiming to mistake their gun for their taser, and killing a suspect during a routine traffic stop might seem outlandish, far fetched, and perhaps even silly.
However, when studying U.S. history, one might be surprised to find out that it’s not a completely unheard of phenomenon, to accidentally fire a gun when you think you’re firing a taser. In fact, one of the most infamous killers in American history made that exact mistake. On this very day in the year 1865, John Wilkes Booth became the very first and perhaps most notorious American to use a gun when he thought he was using a stun gun.
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“Please! Please! I beg of you! Listen to reason! I did not mean to put a bullet from my Derringer into the head of the Tyrant Lincoln,” Boothe is quoted as telling the Secret Service agents who arrested him at the time. ‘I just thought I was tasing him! Can’t you see? It’s such a simple mistake, and anyone could make it!”
That fateful night, April 14th, 1865, Boothe snuck into President Abraham Lincoln’s box at Ford’s Theater and shot him at point blank range in the back of the head. Lincoln would eventually succumb to the injury he sustained that night. Booth and several of his co-conspirators were hanged for their role in the assassination. But right up until the time the noose was placed around his neck, Booth professed that it was “all just a big mistake.”
“Surely I know that killing a president is illegal and immoral, but stunning one seems to fit in line with our American principles upon which this great nation was founded. Gentleman,” Booth pleaded. “I beg of you! Have reason! Which among us have not mistaken a deadly firearm for a non-lethal stun gun before?! PLEASE, GENTLE –”
Booth died before being able to finish his sentence.
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Writer/comedian James Schlarmann is the founder of The Political Garbage Chute and his work has been featured on The Huffington Post. You can follow James on Facebook, Spotify, and Instagram, but not Twitter because Twitter is a cesspool.