Firing Squad - One Gun Has Blanks?

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

Well, since death by firing squad happens so rarely (and will soon be abolished in the only state where it’s legal), it would be overkill to invent a mounting system.
Uh, did no one read my links? I don’t think it’s an urban legend.

An IMHO answer but the single blank absolves no one in the moral aspect of the execution. If I am a loaded rifle at someone and pull the trigger I have most certainly taken an active role in ending that person’s life. I most certainly did participate.

It isn’t so that the rifleman doesn’t know if he fired the shot – it’s so that the executed man’s family and friends don’t know (for sure) who fired the shot.

A story is told (sorry, no cite) of the execution of a well-liked bloke, and, back at the barracks, evey member of the firing squad claimed to have fired the blank!


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

That is a common UL which I have heard so many times it is just amazing. I mean, come on! Can you imagine the Chinese government saying “We won’t execute your father until you come up with the money!” and the son saying “OK, I’ll start saving up. . . I’ll open a savings account. . really!”

And say what you will about firing squads. . . it does not project a good image to other civilized countries.

I read your links. They all say the same thing that my Clark County link said, that one member of the squad will have a blank round. There is still nothing in the statute that says anything about a blank round, and unless a copy of Utah’s regulations for firing squads shows up reading that one member shall be armed with a blank round, I still call UL regardless of how many news outlets report it as fact.

This sounds fishy to me. I really doubt that executions are conducted at the command level where the firing squad members know the individual and have to live in common with his comrades after the fact.

I suspect that at least some members of his unit are witnesses, after all a firing squad is supposed to act as a deterrent, with all participants in the actual shooting being strangers.

To add a little weight to my argument. One soldier was executed during WWII. A Private Slovic was convicted of desertion in the face of the enemy during the Battle of The Bulge. Even under combat conditions, the accused is entitled to and is accorded a trial by court martial and the verdict is subject to review by higher authority. Slovic’s case was taken as high as SHAEF Commander, Gen. Eisenhower who affirmed the verdict. I would also hazard a guess that Ike consulted with his superiors, such as the Secretary of War or that office, since I doubt that he was 100% conversant with the niceties of the the legalities of the procedure.

It isn’t just a case of “round up 6 of his squad members and shoot the SOB.”

Exactly. :rolleyes:

I’ve always thought, and this is just conjecture, that derelict soldiers in battle situations can be shot by commanding officers without much in the way of review? If you dropped your rifle and ran, that they could shoot you, which is why commanding officers have side arms.

For what it’s worth, many years ago I read a book about Slovic’s [sp?] execution. It specifically mentioned that the drill for the firing squad included there being one rifle loaded with a blank. As I recall, it pointed out that in a modern high-powered rifle it’s obvious if you’re firing a blank, but said that with the muskets used in the Civil War, when the procedures were codified, it wasn’t obvious.

I don’t expect anybody to be swayed by my memories of a book I read 30 years ago, but I put it out for what it’s worth.

I must say, I’m not surprised by this level of detail not being in a statute – it seems much more suited to administrative procedures and tradition.

U.S. military dopers – there must be written protocols for just about everything – a little help, here?

It would certainly be legal, under extraordinary circumstances, to execute someone by firing squad in Idaho or Oklahoma, according to Amnesty International.

There are interviews with members of the firing squad in the book. At least one of them pointed out that blank shells were not auto-ejected from the rifles they used. The entire 12 man squad knew who had the blank.

This business about blanks often not ejecting is true. In the movie Sergeant York he is pictured as using a Luger pistol at one time. According to the History Channel story on York, he carried a regular US issue Colt .45. However, blanks couldn’t be relied upon to work the .45’s slide and eject properly so the movie makes used a Luger so that he could fire more than one shot without hand-operating the slide.

And I doubt that commanders are authorized to summarily shoot someone. How would the commander know the individual wasn’t wounded or going back, or not advancing, for some legitimate reason? If a soldier continually malingers, the commander is soon aware of it and can take proper action. An officer who shot someone could very well run the risk of a future unfortunate accident.

Is there some reason you’re acting like a dick? How many times has a UL been reported as fact by a mainstream news medium just because it’s been reported so many times previously? So just go roll those eyes at somebody else until such time as you provide some documentation from, say, the state of Utah that when they mount a firing squad one member of the squad gets blanks.

SAILOR: They are sent the bill AFTER the execution

No, but the statute does say, "(5) The department shall adopt and enforce rules governing procedures for the execution of judgments of death. "

In any case, I find it plausible that a certain general practice can exist that is not mandated by statute or even by regulation.

Wikpedia asserts that Gary Gilmore was executed by a 5 man firing squad and that one member was firing a blank. This seems to me to be reasonably good evidence that this practice indeed exists.

I don’t know if the story is an UL or not, but I’ve always heard that the family is billed after the execution. Presumably the Chinese government has the means to enforce the collection of the debt from the family.

In Soviet Russia, you shoot the firing squad!

Hangmen used to wear hoods to conceal their identities, as well as those who manned the guillotine during the French Revolution. (Headsmen actually used to beg the forgiveness of the person to be executed, and it was also customary for the condemned to pay the headsman. It ensured a quick death.)

The actual executioner in an electrocution isn’t necessarily visable to the prisoner, as I understand. Those inside the chamber give the signal, at which time the switch is thrown by another individual who may be in a seperate room, or around the back of a wall.

Executioners in the past had a bit of social stigma about them. When a town had no full-time executioner, it was sometimes a struggle to find anyone willing to do the job. That’s one of the reasons why they wore the masks.

There’s a book on the subject, Lord High Executioner. Another I recommend is The Death Penalty: An American History. Both have lengthy sections on the social status of executioners.