Is death by firing squad humane?

“Utah’s Senate has approved a measure that would allow a firing squad to carry out the death penalty if the drug to carry out lethal injections is unavailable,” writes NPR’s Krishnadev Calamur.

The vote was 18-10, and it’s unclear if Republican Gov. Gary Herbert will sign the measure, which would make Utah the only state in the nation to allow firing squads, into law. The state abandoned the practice a little more than a decade ago.

Today’s Question: Is death by firing squad humane?

  • a_tribe_called_chris

    Sounds more humane than raping someone and slicing their throat. Compared to the mystery drug cocktails administered I’d say so. Some crimes deserve death. I think we should start executing child rapists too.

  • PaulJ

    Are they saying they can’t get the drug used to put a person out before surgery? Once you’re out, shooting seems as humane as any other way.

  • James

    Not for the shooters. Where do they get these guys? Where do they spend time when they’re not working…which must be about 99.9% of the time.
    Personally, I think Utah should go to the guillotine or drawing and quartering. And of course it should be done in the public square, just across the street from the big church, in Salt lake City, at noon on Fridays. And sell tickets. And snacks.

    • Dave M

      There are millions of gun nuts in America. How about a raffle? Buy a ticket for $1000. You could be the lucky winner who gets to shoot a condemned prisoner!

      • John Dilligaf

        As a self-professed gun nut, you’d be hard pressed to find “millions” of us clamoring to participate. Granted, there are plenty of nut-jobs out there in all facets of life, and maybe you’ve encountered them in pro-gun arguments, but this guy hopes to never have to use his gun in that way.

        And, frankly, I’m offended by your comment.

        • James

          John, although this job doesn’t interest you, I’ll bet Dave’s raffle would sell out. (And he didn’t say “millions would clamor to participate.”) Not that it is a perfect comparison, but Minnesota’s “wolf raffle” sells out every year and the only prize is the thrill of the kill. No one is hunting wolves to fill their freezer.

        • Gary F

          I’m a gun nut too and I wouldn’t pay or even volunteer for that job.

          You must not know many 2A advocates to come to that assumption.

      • Pearly

        Gun Nut here also. It Friday, nice out. I think Im going to do some target shooting here at my shop range.

  • Gary F

    Not a huge death penalty fan. With the multiple appeals that drag on for years it costs more to execute than to just throw away the key.

    Multiple .30 cal bullets should be foolproof.

  • Rich in Duluth

    No. Because the thought of being forcibly put to death is likely terrifying to most individuals, the death penalty, by any means, is inhumane.

    The death penalty does not solve any problems, doesn’t change the outcome of the actions the person being put to death has done, and may be carried out on persons who are innocent. While it may satisfy some short term need for revenge of those few affected by the prisoner’s actions, state policies should be focused on the long term good of society as a whole.

  • Al March

    I don’t think killing anyone, for any reason, is humane.

  • Sue de Nim

    There’s something perverse about the state killing people to demonstrate that killing people is wrong.

    • DJ Wambeke

      I am a solid death penalty opponent. But I don’t think the point of capital punishment (at least in the jurisprudence of western nations) is to “kill to demonstrate that killing is wrong”. It is, rather, to attempt to exact a measure of justice for a wrong that was done.

      • Sue de Nim

        In other words, you’re saying the main purpose of the death penalty is retribution. Retribution happens when the perpetrator suffers a harm comparable to the harm done in the first place, right? But what’s the point of retribution in the first place, if not to make a statement of the wrongness (in the society’s judgment) of the action for which retribution is being exacted?

        But that raises another question: Should retribution be a rationale for a criminal penalty?

  • Jim G

    Yes… it is inhumane. ISIL kills its captives by firing squad, decapitation, and burning alive. Many Americans justly judge these killings as abhorrent, obscene, and inhuman. That individual US states like Utah still execute prisoners, I also believe to be just as abhorrent, obscene, and inhumane.

    • Pearly

      Are you comparing ISIS to Utah?

      • Jim G

        I am comparing the end result. For the prisoner, it is death at the hands of a powerful entity. I am stating my belief that the execution of prisoners done by any state or government is inhumane. It is an abuse of power. ISIL is particularly purposeful in its hideous executions. Their goal seems to be to generate fear in their enemies. Why do some US states like Utah still execute prisoners? I really don’t know why. Perhaps it is just an anachronistic holdover from our violent past. But we also imprison more of our citizens than any other industrialized country. Perhaps the purpose is to make certain segments of our populace fear government. For the captives, it makes no difference whether they are killed by ISIL or Utah, Texas, Arkansas, Arizona, Wyoming… it makes no difference… they are powerless when their lives are taken by agents of the state.

      • Yanotha Twangai

        Why not compare ISIS to Utah? Are you afraid Utah would come up short? If we can’t point to ways we’re better than our enemies (e.g., we don’t torture or inflict hideous deaths on people), what does that say about us? To my mind, we will be collectively better, as a people, if we eschew the death penalty entirely. (We’ll also be collectively better when we can say we recognize a right to health care and when no one has to go hungry or sleep under bridges, but those are topics for other occasions.)

  • Pearly

    Will they get a cig?

  • kevins

    Worrying about the method begs the question.

  • LB

    Should it be?

  • KTN

    Its funny, the 8th A states “cruel and unusual” but for those who support the death penalty they read as cruel or unusual. There can certainly be debate about whether the death penalty- however applied is cruel, but there is no doubt it is unusual (and therefore it violates the constitution).
    For this question, yes, the state killing by firing squad is most certainly not humane.

    • Sue de Nim

      I remember being taught that “unusual,” in the context of the 8th A, as the word was used in the days when it was written, meant what we today would refer to as “disproportionate.” I am fully convinced that that the death penalty is neither cruel nor unusual (by that definition) and is therefore not unconstitutional. It is, however, unwise, ineffective, counterproductive and morally repugnant. It should be abolished, not because the Constitution forbids it, but because We, this People, ought to be better than that.

      • KTN

        Yeah, you’re right, but I just can’t quite cozy up to the texturalist original meaning take – I’m much more of a pragmatist, and that as society evolves, so does the Court. We all know how that’s going however.