Firing squads

Some states look at reviving firing squads amid shortage of execution drugs

(Note: I am ambivalent about capital punishment. Since I do have some discomfort with it, I must oppose it and wish for it to be abolished. You may consider this a humour/sarcasm thread.)

Bullets are cheap, eh? Have you tried to buy ammo lately? :dubious: Anyway, why not make executions profitable for the state? See, reading comments from people on this link and on other stories involving crime, it seems that there are a lot of bloodthirsty Americans. I’m not talking about ‘Alas, death is the only suitable punishment’ types. I mean there are a lot of people wanting to kill criminals in the most heinous ways imaginable. (And some of them have quite the imagination!) I’ve read posts by people who say ‘I will [pull the trigger/flip the switch/pull the lever] myself!’

So let the states set up an Execution Lottery. For each execution, a drawing would be held to choose the members of the firing squad and alternate shooters. To prevent shooters from intentionally shooting to wound, and to alleviate guilty consciences, the states could use a variation of the shooting gallery of steel.

Here’s how it would work: People who feel so strongly about executing people would buy tickets. The tickets could cost $10 each, or $20 each or $100 each – whatever brings the highest return. Five or six lucky winners will be chosen to act as the firing squad, with an equal number of alternates in case any of the winners is unable or unwilling to go through with it. The machine would have five or six rifles that have been pre-sighted on the target. Last minute adjustments could be made using a laser, with the victim strapped to the execution chair. Each shooter would have a button. Two buttons, when pushed, would activate a solenoid (or solenoids) that would fire the rifles. The remaining buttons would do nothing, so that each shooter can believe that he didn’t personally kill another human being.

God-fearing, REAL (bloodthirsty) Americans get to serve the Righteous Vengeance they so strongly believe in. The ‘deserving’ criminal suffers the outcome so longed for by a large part of society. There would be no need to depend on those pansy-assed Europeans to supply us with phenobarbital. Proceeds from the lottery bolster the state coffers.

And if the executions were shown on pay-per-view, there would be even more revenue. Sports bars could show them and make a ton of cash selling beer to the spectators. Hey, we already have for-profit prisons.

I’ve seen it argued that the big benefit of lethal injection isn’t necessarily that it’s more humane for the person being executed but that it’s less disturbing for the witnesses. I have a feeling that watching someone meet their grisly demise at the hands of the state acting via its solemn agents Contest Winners #1-6 wouldn’t be quite as satisfying to the families of the victim as it would be for the average newspaper website commentator.

I think lethal injection is utterly loathsome because to tries to disguise killing as a medical procedure. Just use the rope or the axe, and be honest about what you’re doing.

I like the idea, but substitute RPGs for the rifles. :smiley:

I’m pro death penalty for treason, spying, terrorism and related crimes , and anti death penalty (mostly on scriptural grounds) for ‘common’ crimes like murder. I do think that shooting or guillotine are probably the best methods. I’m creeped out by the fact that lethal injection seeks to disguise the execution as a medical procedure.

Death by shooting, if it’s done like the Soviets used to (single shot in the head) can be quick and presumably relatively painless.

I used to be pro-death penalty, but instead I find myself not caring anymore. As I have said before, if I had to spend 23 hours a day in isolation with a concrete bed and no significant contact with anybody save my guards who only came to drop my food off I’d wish I was dead in short order.

Let them live. It’s no longer worth the fight. In the long run it’s cheaper than executions thanks to the never-ending appeals process and placing the killer in what amounts to a living Hell for a half-century is quite good enough.

Personally if I’m ever sentenced to death my preference would be for the guillotine. I’ve always wondered if there’s a moment of consciousness afterward. Also it looks very dramatic; especially when done in front of a crowd.

This ↑↑↑ :cool:

So they say that the death penalty is more expensive because of the appeals process. Am I the only one who finds this a little unsettling? If you’re put in prison for life you don’t get as many appeals as you would on death row? Because they’re about equally bad in my view.

Also, I find it amazing that people argue this much about execution methods. It would be so easy to make it painless. One or more rifle shots to the head would do it, but they don’t want to that because it’s messy. Nitrogen asphyxiation. Applying a rear naked choke until unconscious and continuing it until death. Etc.

We’re going to kill them with Dungeons & Dragons?

(I know, I know, wrong sort of RPG. :wink: )

IIRC, appeals are generally automatic in capital cases. You’ll occasionally hear of an inmate waiving them, but it’s rare. In ordinary criminal cases, they’re not automatic, and I’m not sure, but I don’t think you’re entitled to a public defender (though I could be wrong). So if you wanna keep those appeals going, you’re going to need to pony up in advance, or do it pro se (which, if you’ve not got anything else to do all day…)

Depends… Commander Blokhin, at his finest, managed one death every 3 minutes, and worked a 10-hour shift over 28 nights. ( He got a bonus pay for this feat. )
Not all of us are of his calibre, and daintier hands may become slightly shaky with the continuous recoil.

Assuming one feels Okay about lethal injection, the glaring question is: Why the fuck is it so complicated?

If the intention is to make it fast and painless – or at least, just painless – what’s so hard about that? We keep reading about even lethal injections getting botched.

Just put them into a room full of nitrogen, as thirdname suggests above. I think it’s generally understood that asphyxiation this way is comfortable and painless. I’ve seen a video of a demo, showing an airplane passenger at high altitude with no oxygen mask. He just sort of quietly drifts off to sleep, sort of.

Or, there are other drugs. Why the obsession with pentobarbitol? How about propofol, the drug that did Michael Jackson in? Or any other surgical anesthetic? They use midazolam to put people to sleep for some procedures. I had that for a recent colonoscopy. They turn on the juice and the next thing you know you’re laying in the recovery room. So just knock the prisoner out with that and, while he’s out, do whatever it takes to kill him. Throw him into a wood chipper. Presumably, he won’t feel a thing.

The real problem is, we’re so ambivalent about capital punishment. We want it fast, clean, and painless – and we want it cruel and horrible too. The politicians pander to their respective bases, and the condemned prisoners are nothing more than cannon fodder for them.

Missouri was going to use that, but the resulting EU export restrictions could have caused shortages.

Ohio just did an execution with midazolam and hydromorphone. It was not perceived as working especially well.

From the Ohio article:

So, 100 medical doses are used for each execution. What effect will that have if the drug is in limited supply?

Given how few executions actually occur, this isn’t much of an argument against its use. Nobody is cheated out of the drug or otherwise deprived of their use.

Also, with regard to the executions themselves… how is it that a drug that is used regularly to knock people out in small quantities such that they not only feel no pain but have no idea what has happened or how long it has been in the time between the administration of the drug and revival doesn’t have the same effect on executed prisoners in much larger quantities? I strongly suspect that people who say that the executions are painful or painful-looking are doing so because they object to the death penalty itself and are laying the groundwork for lawsuits. My experience with sodium pentothal (no longer used thanks to induced shortages as a result of its use in executions) tells me that the dentist who pulled my wisdom teeth could have done anything and I would never have known. Any similar-acting drug in massive doses should have the same properties, like flipping a switch. Just not in execution chambers, apparently.

I can probably think of a dozen good ways of “humanely” executing someone, as I sit here checking the forums before I go to bed. Using stuff you could get at a Walmart.

Use an execution chamber with a concrete floor. Excavate a 2’x2’x4’ cube in the floor, line and backstop to taste. Have the condemned lay down on the floor, head over the hole. If you want to get fancy, you can reuse one of the lethal injection tables with the arm slabs and straps, and just remove the headrest section, or replace it with a disposable plywood section, and stick it on the floor, with the head over the hole.

Get a large metal “bucket”—you could probably reuse part of a 55 gallon drum—cut a large “neck hole” in the side, perhaps adding a “gasket” of rubber or heavy cloth.

On the top of the bucket, add a socket to stick a shotgun—you really have your choice of weapons and ammunition, here, but a 10 gauge slug comes to mind, immediately. Position the bucket/gun so that the barrel is centered on the condemned’s forehead, perhaps to be fancy you could mount it on little rails on the floor that you could slide into place. Also to be fancy, making the socket adjustable to put the muzzle exactly against the condemned’s forehead, and/or adding padding to it.

The weapon could be fired manually, by a volunteer, or perhaps have the trigger modified to be pulled by a cable, or a timer, or to be really disco, to be fired electronically from a control panel that takes a two key or two button-press system to fire, with the actual fire command chosen at random.

Boom. Brain destroyed instantly, relatively tidy, relatively easy cleanup. Some of the organs and tissues might even be recoverable. (The corneas, alas, probably wouldn’t be—despite actually having precedent in a U.S. execution.)

Although a penetrating captive bolt pistol might be even simpler, and cheaper really, as it uses entirely off-the-shelf equipment.

Or you could just drop one of those huge, triangular iron weights on them. Acme might still make 'em.

I’ve always favored the guillotine myself. Really. It’s quick and efficient.

Both of which takes seconds to cause death. I am against the death penalty. However, if it has to be done, it should be done properly and humanly, causing the least amount of pain to the victim, not to be aesthetically pleasing to the audience, which is all that lethal injection is.

You can be released from a life sentence if wrongly convicted.