Mississippi Lawmakers Consider Bringing Back Firing Squads

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(Photo: CBS)

Capital punishment exists in 31 states for a reason. That is because some people deserve to die. Yes, allow me to repeat that, some people deserve to die.

All 31 states that have the death penalty use lethal injection as their primary method of execution, per the Death Penalty Information Center. The reason is because it is widely considered the most humane way to kill an individual.

Yet, over the past decade or so, advocacy groups have challenged the assumption that death by lethal injection is humane, moreover, they contend that it violates the constitutional prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishment enshrined in the 8th Amendment.

The result of these advocacy efforts has been lawsuits stonewalling death by lethal injection in various states as well as shortages in the drugs commonly used for lethal injection, e.g. sodium thiopental.

Since killing the worst of the worst by lethal injection has become a real headache, several states have opted to enact laws that contain backup methods when the drugs cannot be sourced. Mississippi is now considering a bill that would add firing squad, electrocution, and gas chamber as options if lethal injection drugs are unavailable.

Known as House Bill 638, the legislation cleared the lower chamber Wednesday and now heads to the Senate.

Republican Rep. Andy Gipson told The Associated Press that House Bill 638 is a response to lawsuits by “liberal, left-wing radicals.”

Mississippi has 47 people currently on death row. Several have been awaiting lethal justice for decades.

“I have a constituent whose daughter was raped and killed by a serial killer over 25 years ago and that person’s still waiting for the death penalty. The family is still waiting for justice,” said Gipson, who also works as an attorney and Baptist pastor.

Oklahoma and Utah currently have death by firing squad as a method of execution. However, Jim Craig, an attorney who is suing Mississippi over lethal injection told the AP that the backup methods on HB 638 are just as problematic as lethal injection and they too would be challenged in court.

“Every single one, in essence, just injects a whole new series of issues in the existing case,” said Craig, who works for the Roderick & Solange MacArthur Justice Center.

What’s fascinating is that lethal injection may be less humane than a firing squad. In doing research for this article, I came across this More Perfect podcast, entitled “Cruel and Unusual,” that really delves into the issue.

Witnesses to execution by firing squad, interviewed in the podcast, all attest to the quickness in which the defendants are put to death. Think about it. Five or six competent shooters, all aiming at the heart of the defendant with larger-caliber rifle rounds. At the command to, “fire,” the defendant is dead within fractions of a second. Very little, if any, pain.

Whereas with lethal injections there are stories of botched executions where it appears that the defendants experienced excruciating pain. As one of the contributors in the More Perfect report noted, if the three-drug cocktail doesn’t work to properly numb the patient, the acid component that ultimately kills the defendant gives him or her the sensation as if they were being burned alive from the inside. Sounds painful.

So, it appears that a firing squad is a more humane approach to killing those on death row than compared to lethal injection, according to that podcast.

Yet, in my opinion, and maybe this is just me, I could care less if some deviant murderer or child rapist experiences pain before he descends down into the hearth of hell.

As an unflinching supporter of capital punishment, I’m resigned to the fact that regardless of the method used, it’s always going to contain some level of savagery because savagery is inherent in the act of killing — whether it be by firing squad, lethal injection, electrocution, etc. This needs to be acknowledged. We can’t hide from the truth. We can’t sanitize killing. Attempting to do so only undermines the solemnity of the act. See, it should never be easy for us to kill. But by the same token, killing should never not be an option. As I said before, some people deserve to die.

Anyways, what are your thoughts?  Do you support the death penalty?  Do you support death by firing squad?

{ 50 comments… add one }
  • srsquidizen February 11, 2017, 4:24 pm

    When the framers banned “cruel and unusual” there were still places that used drawing & quartering as a method of execution. If you don’t know what that entails you’ll have to Google. I won’t even describe it here. Suffice it to say ALL methods of LEGAL execution ever employed in the USA are, comparatively speaking, humane.

  • DW February 11, 2017, 2:58 pm

    Utilizing the crime details of his/her conviction, employ those same methods to execute. If the convicted has to undergo the same terror/torture that he put the victim(s) through, then the bleeding hearts might really have a case for “cruel and unusual”. Reduce appeal timeline as well. If DNA or other irrefutable evidence ties the person to the crime, convict one day, execute the next. The death penalty might have some effect of deterrence if it is assured the convicted isn’t going to sit in a cell for 30 days much less 30 years.

  • LL February 11, 2017, 11:39 am

    I believe the Death penalty should be enacted Nation/territory wide ONLY if there is undeniable evidence ie: DNA, video, etc that would rule out ANY doubt. Too many are in prisons for whatever reasons that have been found undeniably innocent (ie: DNA technology not available at the time of their trials, etc ) many years down the road. When the evidence is undeniably guilty, a Firing squad (with the traditional blank in one rifle) placing the bullets to kill in the best place possible to be assured that the most possible of the criminal’s organs can be used for transplants. In today’s ever increasing litigious environment, criminals are not afraid to commit the crimes warranting the death penalty because they know it takes 20-25 years for their sentences to be carried out. Attorneys and others use this opportunity for job security and to justify their own career existences in many cases. Only when criminals KNOW they would be summarily executed in very short order, would it be a deterrent after a few demonstrations of expediency has been proven out. This ‘solution’ would be the most humane as many other’s lives would be saved or enhanced by the organ ‘donations’. Case closed.

  • ROSCOE February 11, 2017, 8:23 am

    My dog peed on the floor back in 2001. Today, 16 years later, I rubbed his nose in the spot and swatted him with a newspaper. Punishment rendered. Lesson learned. The death penalty is just that silly. It’s also always going to be more expensive to execute a prisoner in the United States than to lock the monster up for the rest of what we hope will be a long, long, miserable existence. I mean, can you imagine spending a week in a shopping mall? Now imagine spending 50 years in a space the size of your house — with the same cheap meals repeating themselves week after week.

  • Andrew N February 11, 2017, 2:01 am

    I don’t believe a firing squad, electrocution, hanging, or lethal injection are “cruel or unusual” punishments if done right. Let’s ask the people who’ve been through it if it is. Show of hands? Anybody? Nope, none of them complained, so let ‘er rip!

  • Norm Fishler February 11, 2017, 1:07 am

    The hangman’s rope and a twelve foot drop has stood the test of time. Cheap and re-useable.

  • K February 10, 2017, 10:48 pm

    The number of sociopaths on this blog is disturbing to say the least. Why am I not surprised…

  • Ivar Ivarson February 10, 2017, 6:01 pm

    Oklahoma has considered a bill allowing for 100% nitrogen atmosphere execution if they are denied access to lethal injection drugs. There have been a number of industrial accidents even at NASA facilities where personnel have gone into tanks that were not cleared of test atmospheres. They lost consciousness, those who went in after them without breathing apparatus lost consciousness, all within 10s of seconds. There is no build-up of carbon dioxide in the blood hence no physiological warning sign as the CO2 is “washed out”. You go to sleep and, if not removed to normal air, asphyxiate. Nitrogen is available industrially from the nearest tire store.

  • Pete Ostergard February 10, 2017, 5:14 pm

    Wonderful idea! Rather than a group of sharpshooters why not a totally adjustable chair that the prisoner can be strapped to sitting roughly five or so feet from a electrically activated device that would fire one precision aimed round of your chosen caliber to strike the prisoner right between the eyes. Of course the device would have to be somewhat concealed so that the prisoner would not have to stress over it. We don’t want to be cruel now, do we. The cost of the device wouldn’t be to high and of course one precision aimed round is going to cost less than a dollar. Cleanup would be done by others on death row who are awaiting their turn. That might be kinda mean, but cost saving. The device would be triggered by the first person turning a light on anywhere in the prison so that nobody would know who triggered the device and would not have to feel guilty. The wiring might be a little difficult but I’m sure someone could figure it out fairly easy.

  • Jim Gregory February 10, 2017, 4:35 pm

    I don’t understand the problem with obtaining chemicals for lethal injection. It’s common knowledge that a little heroin will get you high, while a lot of heroin will kill you. Problem solved!! There’s plenty of illegal heroin seized by the government. Let’s put some of it to good use. If you can’t find a vein, put it in subcutaneously- sooner or later it’ll be lethal.

    • Ck February 15, 2017, 11:44 am

      I’ve been wondering that myself. We can land a man on the moon and travel faster than the speed of sound,but they are having problems putting a killer to death with chemicals. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that an over dose of iv narcotic pain meds will 100% kill a person. Heroin would probably be the cheapest too of injection route.

  • Tom S. February 10, 2017, 3:35 pm

    To me the whole idea of being “humane” in disposing of a murderer is very disturbing. Public executions were such as to be a deterrent to murder. Today there is No such example. No one is responsible for their actions. These individuals only have the right to a speedy trial and an execution. Being on Death Row for years is just wrong. Worry about execution discomfort should not even be an issue. We have a lot of talk these days about stopping the drug epidemic, and calling addiction a disease. It is a very simple fix here. Drug dealing, due to the nature of damage it does to individuals and their families, should carry an automatic death penalty. After a round of executions using their own drugs, I think that most will rethink this type of occupation as a life’s work. Announce this plan to the public, enforce it 6 months later, and watch the problem disappear within a year or two.

  • Chris February 10, 2017, 3:31 pm

    It seems there is a lack of considered thought in these comments. The basic assumptions most are making is that everyone convicted is guilty or deserving of punishment. Secondly that death and life in prison are the only choices. A 6 year old has more imagination than that. We are a very creative Nation so surely we can conceive of a better solution than “Kill them all like dogs.” They are human beings after all, and if you disagree with that then maybe the answer is a lobotomy so that the shell of a human left can return to society and be productive without harming others again. Justice is far more complex than most of you imagine it to be.

    • Kevin Wimer February 11, 2017, 11:14 pm

      You have to be kidding. Lobotomy. Then individual requires 24 hr care. Spend 36 cents on a round.

  • ExNuke February 10, 2017, 2:03 pm

    My objection is to calling it the Death Penalty. Putting down a feral animal that is a danger to the population in general is not “Punishing” the animal, it is “Protecting” the population. Life in prison is more cruel than death, it is still taking the life of the offender, One Heartbeat At A Time. That is more sadistic than simply ending that life to ensure no more innocent people are at risk.

    • Edward Allen February 10, 2017, 4:33 pm

      I would agree with you, if it wasn’t for the benefits that many of them get. Free meals, cable television, gym…..

      If they are to be punished, then they should not get any ameneties at all. Simply a cot and meals.

  • CONRAD LAGRASTA February 10, 2017, 1:22 pm

    THEIR LIVES SHOULD END BY THE SAME MEANS THAT THEY ENDED THE LIVES OF THE INNOCENT VICTIMS

  • CONRAD LAGRASTA February 10, 2017, 1:15 pm

    WHY ARE WE AFRAID TO MAKE A MURDERER SUFFER WHEN HE IS EXECUTED?
    HE MADE THE VICTIM SUFFER.

  • Rick February 10, 2017, 12:16 pm

    Genesis 9:6

    Anyone shedding man’s blood, by man will his own blood be shed, for in God’s image He made man.

    Any Questions?

    • J February 10, 2017, 12:53 pm

      Yes, have you read the rest of the Bible?You seem to have forgotten the books that follow.

    • C. Aldridge February 10, 2017, 1:11 pm

      What about “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.”

  • justanamerican February 10, 2017, 11:36 am

    From a scientific standpoint I think the guillotine is the fastest, least painful, most reliable, least expensive to use.

    • Joseph Church February 10, 2017, 12:07 pm

      Guillotine so are plentiful. The US government has many though public hanging by a rope is less expensive and just as effective.

  • jim February 10, 2017, 11:14 am

    My biggest objections to the death penalty:
    People can be corrupt. And some of those people can be: prosecutors, judges and LEO’s and etc. No segment of the population is pure.
    It is also of questionable benefit for the gubbmint to be in the business of executing its own citizens. (See also: corruption, above).

    Finally, mistakes can be made in the conviction process. Even eyewitness testimony is problematic.
    Now if the accused admits to the crime(s) and it is also substantiated with evidence….

    • davud February 10, 2017, 12:16 pm

      valid points about process. beyond the recognition that any legal process is flawed, the crux is whether death is a fitting punishment. i believe it is. my proposal is for a narrow but meaningful three-strikes approach. if a person is convicted of three serious violent crimes, they’re written themselves out of society. the crimes would be limited to the worst of the worst victimizations: murder, assault with a deadly weapon, armed robbery, major mayhem, rape, kidnapping, and so on. this fairly limited and simple approach would hopefully simplify the appeals process.

      beyond the morality of capital punishment, call me heartless but i do not want to pay for these people’s room and board and lawyers’ fees for decades.

      • Edward Allen February 10, 2017, 4:35 pm

        This would be acceptable, provided there were no plea bargains. Many cases of murder are reduced, and as a result, the punishment does not fit the crime.

  • GH February 10, 2017, 10:17 am

    I can see both sides of this arguement. While I am firmly in the capitol punishment is necessary camp, I can see how others can feel that any killing is bad.

    So here is what I propose. When a person becomes old enough to work and earn money and also pay taxes, they fill out both a State and Federal form that declares if they are for capitol punishment or are for life sentences. Based on that input the groups will be tallied and the costs for each will be paid by those separate groups. So if you live in a state with capitol punishment, the people who believe in that, pay for the costs for their states executions. In those states with no capitol punishment the people who don’t believe in capitol punishment will pay to keep those on death row alive for the rest of their natural lives. This money will be handled by a Federal System run by DoJ with Federal Judge oversight and yearly public reports to show why people who don’t believe in capitol punishment are paying so much in taxes.

    • 2B or not 2B 2A February 14, 2017, 3:50 am

      Best option yet GH!! I agree. I would also bet that these “advocates” for “cruel and unusual punishment” have never had a loved one raped, murdered, tortured, kidnapped. Yet they feel they have the rights to defend the accused? If found guilty by no-reasonable doubts, they deserve no less then death. We reep what we sow.

  • James Savage February 10, 2017, 7:53 am

    “Just Give them a sleeping pill, have them placed in a small room and turn on a gasoline engine connected to it; and in short time carbon monoxide fumes will terminate them “Painlessly” at very low negligible cost!”
    “WHY WASTE A PERFECTLY GOOD BULLET ON SUCH LOW LIFE FORMS?”

  • Andrew Ling February 10, 2017, 6:43 am

    I am no lawyer. I will vote YES if we were to vote on the issue. I believe that the minute one takes an innocent life, one forfeits his/her own. The manner of justice being meted is not important as long as it is legal.

  • chuck February 10, 2017, 6:41 am

    I personally would like to see public hangings brought back.

    • Barry Thomas February 10, 2017, 12:03 pm

      Televised on on the evening news with ample warnings,letting people see what will happen if you take a life

    • Larry Brickey February 10, 2017, 12:30 pm

      I, too, favor a good hemp rope. Done right it’s quick.

  • Richacr February 10, 2017, 5:57 am

    I believe a person should die the same death that he or she caused! And as soon as possible…

  • Jonny5 February 10, 2017, 5:22 am

    Lock them up for life. That is much worse than death.

    • DRAINO February 10, 2017, 8:22 am

      Yes, so they can be a burden on society for the rest of OUR lives and we have to pay for taking care of them. Uh….I think NOT! Tax payers should not be forced to pay for taking care of criminals. Prison should not be a social club…..like they currently are. They need to be bad enough to be a deterrent to crime….and taxpayers should not be footing the bill for it.

      AMERICANISM!!!! NOT Globalism!!!!

      • Roger February 10, 2017, 2:45 pm

        You are correct! It should not be a social club, but it is. Prisons are often filled with people who just run their criminal enterprises from inside the prisons, or engage in all types of other criminal activity, and do their drugs too. Furthermore, the inmates do not think of incarceration as a punishment or deterrent. It’s a lifestyle to them, and one they do not have reservations with . Thy have no problem with being in prison and doing their time.

      • Ross February 10, 2017, 3:13 pm

        After they are convicted…give their families a choice. They pay for their incarceration for the rest of their lives OR death.
        BUT, I would sooner believe that they “did unto others as they would have others do unto them” so they die the same way their victim died. AND if it were an especially vicious killing, hanging until there are only bones left.

    • Edward Allen February 10, 2017, 4:37 pm

      Think Charles Manson. Still around after all these years.

  • Belle February 10, 2017, 5:21 am

    If the crime committed was so heinous as to deserve the death penalty why should this monster be humanely put down? Was their victim(s) humanely killed? I think not. Make their death as long and as painful as possible so they have time to remember why they deserve to die.
    A firing squad could start at the ankles and work their way up, shooting every 10-15 seconds. Mean and hateful? So was their crime. Their victim(s) didn’t deserve to die.

    • Roger February 10, 2017, 2:48 pm

      What you suggest is torture, not capitol punishment. You should be ashamed of yourself cor commenting like that.

      • Edward Allen February 10, 2017, 4:38 pm

        Understandable, but I would have more concern for the firing squad. Remember, they have to live with it also.

    • K February 10, 2017, 10:46 pm

      You’re a sick phuk… Seek help..

  • Lloyd Dumas February 10, 2017, 5:05 am

    I support the death penalty, it should be a choice by the guilty party as what means it is carried out. What is most important to me is the waiting time they need not have to wait decades to be executed, to me that is cruel. Just do it swift.

  • Wyantry February 10, 2017, 4:19 am

    Agree. If defendant killed by strangulation: they die by garroting. If they kill by stabbing: they die by stabbing. And so on.
    I think murderers SHOULD suffer! So this whole “cruel and unusual” debate, to me at least, is Bovine Excrement.
    But as an alternative, a bullet at the 1st cervical vertebra juncture (as the Chinese have reportedly done) would be an alternative. Easily done “anonymously” via a series of electrical switches and a randomly computer-controlled selector: five people push a switch at the same time—the computer selects which one input fires the terminating round.
    And why not have the families of the murdered victims “have the option” to push the switch, as part of a retribution/healing process?

    • Junior February 10, 2017, 4:21 pm

      I’d volunteer for the firing squad and don’t give me any blanks, I want the full jacketed hollow point ones!

  • Christian February 9, 2017, 9:33 pm

    To answer the question on the bottom of this article: Yes, I also do fully support the death penalty. But I also would support that someone that has been rightfully charged is being executed immediately and not after decades. I wonder how it is possible that they keep these guys waiting for so long, like this serial killer for 25 years, which the article mentioned. It is clear that he is the murderer and the judges have given him the death penalty, so what are they waiting for?

    And I also would like to see that the main execution style, maybe even the only one, is to shoot these guys. Gas chambers, electrocution and the construction of the poison for a lethal injection are far more expensive than a clean shot to the head. Especially the gas chambers are a sign of hypocrisy. While the people are still shocked about the Holocaust that happened during World War 2, they make usage of these Holocaust methods themselves, which is really stupid. Electrocution eats away too much electricity and is not really a fast way to kill someone. And the lethal injection has failed too often as well. I heard from a death participant that was so fat, that the doctors were unable to find a vein, so they had to break up the process. I have read the participant even cried then. I believe it is time to speed the things up and safe some money. Immediate execution by a clean shot and not keeping them in line for decades (prisoners cost money too) and using expensive methods is the best way, in my opinion. You never see them waiting in line like that or using expensive methods in the military, during a drumhead trial.

    And yes, I know my text sounds cruel but always imagine what those guys were doing. How can we ever give them a 2nd chance? And think about their victims and the families of these victims, like the one the article already mentioned too. I would even allow them to shoot the one who brought this Hell upon them. An eye for an eye, tooth for tooth and so on.

    • 2B or not 2B 2A February 14, 2017, 3:44 am

      That is the problem. Most of these criminals are given 2nd and 3rd chances and always return to their savage ways. How many times have we read, or heard on the news that “the criminal who just raped and killed a person had 2 prior convictions”, for the same thing no less. It boggles my mind.

      • Christian February 14, 2017, 9:26 pm

        I wish if in most cases it would have been just 2 prior convictions. Especially when it comes to criminal teenagers, it seems that the judges are completely blind. I know of young adults that have committed more than 20 violations of the law and still they have never seen jail from the inside, or maybe just for a very short time. I want to see times coming back where the law is really to be considered a law, therefore it must give the penalties it has written down in its own books. But who is once again against it? Yes, these “liberals”. It is disgusting to me.

  • DRAINO February 9, 2017, 5:52 pm

    FULLY SUPPORT THE DEATH PENALTY!!! By what ever means the crime was committed is how the penalty should be carried out.

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