Firing Squad - One Gun Has Blanks?

Reading the news this morning that a third defendant in last years Bali nightclub bombings was sentenced to death by firing squad got me thinking about something I’d always heard about but never was quite sure of its authenticity.

Is it true (generally speaking of course) that when someone is executed by firing squad, one of the guns used is loaded with blanks? The theory being that if one of those responsible for doing the firing is having some moral dilemma about killing another human being, he can rest a little easier knowing that maybe he had the gun with the blanks and didn’t actually participate first hand in the killing.

The only problem with that is that guns with blanks don’t recoil. So if you fire a blank, you know it instantly.

I always thought it was everyone had blanks but one person who had a live round.

Then again, this is an American quandry. Other cultures are much less reserved about shooting people than we are. For most of the world, a firing squad is just being shot in the back of the head.

In China they are generally executed with a single pistol shot to the back of the head so it wouldn’t work there.

What if the rifle were mounted in such a way that the shooter didn`t feel the recoil?

Guns with blanks do recoil, if you have a BFA but then that would defeat the prupose of having the blanks.

I’ve also heard that in lethal-injection execucution, there are two buttons, which are simultaneously pressed by two people. Only one button actually delivers the poison, but the pushers never know which it was.

This is third-hand info, but a prison guard told my father that there are four rifles, two with blanks and two with real bullets. He also added that one of the real rounds was “very hot”. To me, this seems to defeat the point of the blanks, since the guy with the super hot round would feel a bigger recoil, and thus know he had one of the real rounds.
The prison guard in question is assigned to death row in the only state that still has the firing squad, so I think it may have some validity. And he told my father this recently.

…and a bill for the cost of the bullet is sent to the family of the person shot, if they don’t pay the bill…?

“What if the rifle were mounted in such a way that the shooter didn’t feel the recoil?”

Then what is the point of having shooters at all? Just have some buttons like lethal-injection, etc.

If you have a firing squad the idea is that everyone is shooting live rounds. Even if someone on the squad had not fired, the other 5 or 6 bullets would have killed the guy anyway.

According to this there are five rifle and only one blank. So it may have gotten twisted around in the telling.
Again, Utah is the only state to have a firing squad, and CourtTV seems to be a reliable source, so I guess it is true.

But you wouldn’t know until you fire, so at least you’ll be slightly less reluctant to pull the trigger. Maybe that’s enough reason to use the blank?

Another thought - the executioner himself may know if his gun had a blank, but his friends and family wouldn’t.

Nothing in the Utah statute saays anything about anyone’s having a blank round.

This site from the Clark County (Indiana) prosecuting attorney’s office repeats the information about one gunman having a blank round but doesn’t link to the source of the information. Other sites seem mostly to link back to the Clark County site and I don’t find through Google anything laying out formal procedures beyond the Utah statute.

I call UL on the blank round, at least as far as Utah is concerned, unless someone finds an execution manual.

I’m kind of amazed that somewhere in the States still executes by firing squad. Not that it’s a horrible way to execute someone or anything; it just strikes as being very connotative of something like the Soviet Union.

You can wait for this “execution manual”. I think I will go with:
CBS News
BBC News
and the Associated Press.
This may be the most documented “urban legend” ever.

Sounds like an urban legend. As others have said, if you are experienced in guns, you know when the round was a blank.

You don’t hear about deception in the identity of the executioner in case of: hanging, beheading, electrocution. So why the tender regard for the executioners’ feelings in firing squads? I don’t think that those involved in carrying out executions are all that squeemish.

There are actually two kinds of “blanks” - “practice” rounds, which, indeed, have little gunpowder and hence a noticeably smaller recoil. These are used for two-sided combat practice (i.e., when you are “attacking” real people during practice).

Then there are “propulsion” rounds (for want of a better name), like those used to fire barrel-fitting (supposedly “anti-armor” :rolleyes: ) mini-rockets off the M-16. The latter pack a lot of punch - noticeably more than an ordinary 5.56. In fact, you are warned to be sure to place the heel of the gun properly against your shoulder, otherwise you can end up nicely bruised.

I have practiced with both kinds of blanks, so this is first-hand experience.

I see no reason why there shouldn’t be a third kind of blank, with a “normal” gunpowder charge, which would quite closely simulate firing a regular round.

Boo Hoo. Firing blanks, or bullets, into murderers in no way is connotative of something going on in this “Soviet Union” of yours.

You are not “amazed”. You’re just stirring up shit.

Soviet Union? where, who,what?