In 1975 a congressional hearing revealed the CIA had a “heart attack gun.” We take a look back at the hearing and modern day rumors surrounding the mysterious weapon.

In 1975 Congress investigated the CIA out of concern that former President Nixon may have used the CIA in an abuse of his powers. Nixon had resigned from office the previous year on August 9, 1974, fearing impeachment amidst the Watergate scandal. One revelation from the Congressional hearings was that the CIA had a secret assassination weapon otherwise known as the “heart attack gun”.

The heart attack gun reportedly could pierce through clothing, leaving no signs of impact on the skin except a small red dot. The targeted person would feel nothing beyond a slight sting, comparable to a mosquito bite.

Former CIA employee Mary Embree said in 1998, “The poison was frozen into some sort of dart and then it was shot at very high speed into the person. When it reached the person it would melt inside them, and there would be a tiny red dot on their body, which was hard to detect. There wouldn’t be a needle or anything like that left in the person.”

The weapon, a modified Colt 1911, was mentioned during the infamous Church Committee probe in 1975, officially known as the United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence activities. The investigation lasted nine months.

Footage from the probe in 1975 has gone viral in recent years, after being shared by historians and conspiracy theorists.

Heart attack gun leaves no trace

In video from the 1975 hearing, Senator Frank Church asked CIA director William Colby, “Does this pistol fire the dart?”

Colby replied, “Yes, it does, Mr Chairman, and a special one was developed which, potentially would be able to enter the target without perception.”

Colby also revealed the toxin would not appear in an autopsy—so there would be “no way of perceiving that the target was hit”.

Origins of the heart attack gun

Additionally, Colby disclosed a bit more history of what might have led to the creation of this gun. He stated that in 1952 the CIA began a super secret research program, code-named M.K. Naomi, partly to find countermeasures to chemical and biological weapons that might be used by the Russian KGB. CIA researchers came up with an array of James Bond-like weaponry that could use the shellfish toxin and other poisons as ammunition.

Charles Senseney, an engineer for the Defense Department, revealed at the probe that he had devised dart launchers that were disguised as walking canes and umbrellas.

Naturally, such intriguing mechanisms including the heart attack gun are a springboard for conspiracy theories.

Theories on modern day usage of the heart attack gun

Indeed, the heart attack gun has returned to the spotlight once again when some sources theorized that it might be used against current president Donald Trump. These sources claimed that CNN’s persistent speculation on Trump’s waning health, particularly his heart, was in blatant opposition to reports of his “clean bill of health” from his doctor.

This led to the theory that perhaps the media was conditioning the public to believe Trump has a heart disease—as an alibi for an actual induced fatality via the infamous weapon.

Other theories have linked the weapon to the untimely and mysterious deaths of other public figures as well. The list includes: Clay Shaw, J. Edgar Hoover, Earlene Roberts, and Marilyn Monroe. There have also been speculations that former president John F. Kennedy had an unexplainable wound among other more conventional bullet wounds, after his assassination in 1963.


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