Con: Firing Squad

Only two states in the United States have the firing squad as an option for state execution — Oklahoma, in which it is the third option, done only if lethal injection and electrocution are ruled unconstitutional, and Utah, in which it is an option for inmates sentenced before 2004, when firing squads were outlawed. However, state Rep. Paul Ray of Utah plans to propose a bill in a legislative session next year that would reintroduce the firing squad as a more humane form of execution. Although the firing squad seems to be gaining popularity — a similar bill was introduced in Wyoming — death by firing squad is barbaric and should not be implemented.
On June 17, 2010, convicted murderer Ronnie Lee Gardner was the last person in Utah to be executed by firing squad. His arms, legs and head were strapped to a metal chair and four bullets — from five executioners, one had blanks instead of bullets in his gun — ripped through a target pinned over his heart. He effectively served as nothing more than target practice for his executioners.
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the use of the firing squad in 1879, but since then, more efficient methods of execution have been developed. According to a poll by NBC News, of Americans who want capital punishment, only 12 percent favor the firing squad, as opposed to the 54 percent that favor lethal injection as the only method of execution.
Over 1,200 inmates have been executed by lethal injection since 1976. It is, by and large, the quickest and least painful method of execution, and people should not discount it simply because of a few cases of botched executions.
States have been turning to alternative methods of execution, like the firing squad, partly because of a shortage of lethal injection drugs. However, instead of funding research to develop new methods of execution — or maybe just developing domestically-produced drug cocktails that do the job — the government has decided to turn back the clock on execution methods.
The bill to reinstate execution by firing squad came after the recent botched executions by lethal injection, most notably that of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma, who died 43 minutes after officials stopped administering the drugs. Ray says that execution by firing squad is more humane because the convict dies instantaneously. However, there have been several cases in which the executioners have missed their targets, one of the most noteworthy being an 1897 instance where the executioners missed the convict’s heart, causing him to suffer for 27 minutes before dying. Although execution by firing squad can be quick and accurate, if the convict moves even slightly, the bullets can miss the heart and instead cause intense suffering.
Reverting to outdated methods will only drive the country toward the past instead of fostering a sense of innovation. In order for a country to survive, it must embrace the future, no matter how hard it is to let the past go.

  • Brett Parrish

    You said that lethal injection is the fastest and least painful way to execute someone. You are wrong considering it can take up to seven minutes for someone to die from it and it has been proven to be painful and excruciating to those who suffer from it. Meanwhile, firing squad is almost immediate in its purpose of executing the individual and it poses the least amount of pain to a person.