Should We Use the Death Penalty More Often?

When we talk about ways to reduce violent crime and murders, certainly empowering citizens to exercise their 2A rights is at the top of the list, along with engaged community policing and a justice system that actually holds criminals accountable.

But Dr. John Lott Jr., the president of the nonprofit Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC), believes there is another way to deter violent individuals from harming others: the death penalty.

In a recent op-ed in The Washington Times, Lott along with pro-2A supporter Nikki Goeser, made their case to bring back capital punishment because as of right now, while 32 states have inmates on death row, only eight and the federal government have held executions since 2020.

“Amidst the high murder rate of the last couple of years, it is little wonder that Americans support the death penalty by at least a 3-to-2 margin. And their support would rise to more than 2-to-1 if death sentences were carried out on a more timely basis,” they write.

Interestingly, the people who are most in favor of the death penalty are the people most likely to be victims of violent crime.

“The strongest support for the death penalty comes from those with the lowest incomes and education — those who are most likely to be victims of crime. Conversely, the strongest opposition comes from those who make over $200,000 per year and have graduate school educations,” they note.

SEE ALSO: Mississippi Lawmakers Consider Bringing Back Firing Squads

And as it relates to the deterrence effect, Lott and Goeser explain, “Most peer-reviewed academic research shows a large deterrence effect, ranging from eight to eighteen fewer murders for each additional execution.”

So, if it legitimately deters criminals and it has public support from the most at-risk of becoming victims of violent crime, why aren’t we using it more often?

Well, some argue that the high cost of condemning a murderer to death is not worth it. It takes almost 20 years of legal wrangling and sometimes millions of dollars before a convicted offender is finally put down.

Though, Lott and Goeser note that there are cost benefits to having capital punishment on the table. That is, more killers are likely to take a plea bargain to avoid facing the chair or the needle, which in turn saves taxpayer dollars by avoiding a protracted trial and subsequent appeals.

SEE ALSO: The Manson Family Murders: Helter Skelter, Part 2

Then there’s the philosophical argument known as Blackstone’s ratio, “It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer.” The last thing society would want to do is execute an innocent man or woman.

But perhaps this dilemma can be avoided altogether when one’s guilt is not only beyond a reasonable doubt but certain. Mass killers who confess to their crimes, for example. Or, brutal murderers caught on camera and ID’ed by witnesses.

In such cases where guilt is not in question, it would seem appropriate to fast-track these killers to the chair or the needle, or the firing squad. Would it not? What are your thoughts? Is Dr. Lott right? Should we use the death penalty more often to rid society of its monsters and to keep would-be monsters in check?

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About the author: S.H. Blannelberry is the News Editor of GunsAmerica.

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  • Dutch December 7, 2022, 6:49 pm

    Definitely yes, we should use the death penalty more often and not take thirty years on death row to do it. From the time of sentence to the time of execution – 3 weeks tops. We also need less lawyers in this country and more balls.

  • Thane December 3, 2022, 11:33 pm

    Hard crimes, hard times stop the hotel resort life. 100 percent prof. committed murder, death within 72 hours. Stop all this delay crap. No more wasting time and tax money on this person. Put this tax money to better things.

  • WT December 3, 2022, 12:50 pm

    I SAY DO THEM WHAT THEY DID TO THE VICTIMS. Kill ‘‘em and let God sort it out.

  • Terry December 2, 2022, 6:58 pm

    if we used ol sparky or even hanging for those who deserve a more personal touch crime would drop crime rates by 50% in the first year.

  • JOHN LLOYD SCHARF December 2, 2022, 2:18 pm

    The death penalty has killed innocent people. If the state can justify taking a life, then others will too. As long as we justify killing TO everyone, killing will be justified BY everyone.

    Deadly force is justified only when undertaken to prevent imminent and otherwise unavoidable danger of death or grave bodily harm to the innocent.

    A man in a prison cell is not an imminent or unavoidable threat of death or injury.

  • The Ghostman December 2, 2022, 1:57 pm

    I’m going to add to this discussion from a point of view of a family involved on both sides of the argument.
    I was a juror in a death penalty case. Multiple murders in a neighborhood, older people, items used varied from a glass coke bottle to a jack handle. Repeated blows to the head and body. All were in their own homes.
    Found him guilty from physical evidence (dna not yet used in court). Penalty phase psychiatrist gave readings from notes saying that he found the only thing he was sorry for was “they caught me before I was through”.
    We returned to the jury room and before we even sat down one of the black females said effectively “when can we fry the MF?” Did I mention the defendant was also black? All the black members agreed with her before we held the “anonymous” vote. It came back as a unanimous vote. That was 1977, the sentence was carried out in 1985.
    Several years ago my sister in law was murdered in her home by a co-worker who had been stealing money from the business they worked for. Her friends that had profited from her thefts helped out.
    Two of the males tied plastic bags to her head. While she was trying to draw a breath they sodomized her repeatedly until she passed away.
    They got 10 to 15 year jail time.
    I thoroughly let the DA in charge have my opinion on that shitty trial.
    Found out that the guys have no problem with bowel movements any more since they get “lubricated” quite often. So maybe that was a good decision for their sentence, but the female leader will be out in about 15 years.
    Final say: Yes, I do believe in the death penalty. Yes, it takes that person out of the loop. Yes, appeals and legal manipulation slows the time frame for the execution to take place. Work needs to be done to streamline the system (possibly fine lawyers for filing “cruel and unusual” stays and put in that the defendant, since he found the way he killed the victim was OK, we’ll just do the same to him).

  • Brian December 2, 2022, 1:37 pm

    What about the Biden administration makes you think they should have the authority to execute their citizens? What about the government in general gives you enough of a warm fuzzy feeling that you want them to have the authority to choose willingly to end human life?

    Are there people who deserve the death penalty? Absolutely. Should the government have a license to kill? Eh, maybe no?

    What’s the 2A saying? “A government should be afraid of the people, not the other way around?” If the government has their finger on the button that kills a member of “the people”, I don’t think they’re afraid. Just sayin.

  • John Boutwell December 2, 2022, 1:23 pm

    The real crime is that the death penalty is not carried out within 60 days of conviction, not 25 years later

  • Clint W. December 2, 2022, 11:00 am

    I support its use, but all avenues have to be followed to make sure the person sentenced to death is the actual person who committed the crime. There has been enough stories in the last few years about DNA evidence exonerating convicted people, and we all know the wrong person has been killed by the state at some point in time, so if there is any doubt, life in prison is better than killing the wrong guy,or gal. I also find irony in the fact that those who rabidly support abortion, are against the death penalty, and those against abortion, support the death penalty.

  • Dale December 2, 2022, 10:51 am

    Yes I very strongly agree that the death penalty should be in every state in the country. The crime rate would go down drastically. The cost wouldn’t have to be expensive. Besides the taxpayers have to pay either way. Bullets are cheap and so is rope. The murders had no mercy when they murdered their victims so why should we have any mercy on them. They will all go to he’ll anyway.

  • DJH December 2, 2022, 10:48 am

    First of all, I’m a firm supporter of the death penalty. And yes, the process in my opinion takes too long. I agree with those that believe the ones who are guilty beyond a doubt, should be executed quickly. As for the method of execution, there are people who believe it should be done in a humane manor. There is nothing humane about sentencing someone to death. That act in itself is the ultimate decision about another human’s life. When a judge and jury makes that decision, they have to live with it. Just like defending yourself or family against someone who is trying to murder you. Both cases to me, are a necessary act in order to keep order. There is no humane way to take a life in my opinion. Through drugs, hanging, electrocution, firing squad, etc. you use what ever means that will end with the same result… Death. If you can’t live with that, you have no business being the one making the decision. I can fully understand those who can’t make that decision, and I have no ill will towards those people. My wife and I made the decision to put down our 14 year old dog after developing cancer, and who was like a child to us. He gave us so much joy throughout his years. He was given drugs to put him to sleep. He died in my arms. My wife and I cried for a week after the event, but we were okay with our decision, and have never second guessed it. My wife and I have made it certain in our wills that neither of us are to suffer if we develop a terminal illness and have to be kept on life support. The plug will be pulled. We can both live with that decision. I can live with the decision to take another one’s life if it means defending my family from someone who is trying to harm them in any way. It’s not something you celebrate, but there are times when I believe it’s absolutely necessary. A criminal, on the other hand, who murders with no remorse, who is pure evil, who has no empathy what so ever for those effected, gives up their right to life in my opinion. Through whatever means or method, I have no problem with that person’s execution. I have no problem living with that decision.

  • Anthony December 2, 2022, 10:30 am

    Execute the same as the victim received their end of life ! and if not make them work hard for their prison bed instead of walking around and exercise yard.

  • Big Al 45 December 2, 2022, 10:02 am


  • Wilko December 2, 2022, 8:55 am

    As a new state trooper in 1972, my first assignment was to the Sioux Falls District. That year the supreme court invalidated South Dakota’s death penalty law. Within the next three months the number of homicides in that district alone doubled the number of homicides for the previous 12 months in the entire state. Coincidence? Maybe, but I had and still have, my doubts.

  • Mark Gerega December 2, 2022, 8:52 am

    Yes they should. bring back the firing squad bullets are cheap

  • Snake December 1, 2022, 2:09 pm

    Well, this is indeed a very touchy topic, yet I want to give my personal opinion about it:

    At first, I am no enemy of the death penalty in general. I actually was extremely angry and for a few minutes even a little furious, when I have read the news that Nicholas Cruz was not getting the death penalty and I have really felt the pain, the agony and the anger of the families that have lost their loved ones in February 2018 and wanted Cruz to be executed. I think that in clear cases like this one the death penalty should really be carried out, because guys like Cruz have really given away all rights to live, after having ruined so many lives, not just the lives of the ones they have killed, but also of all the families they have devastated forever with their actions. After all, you never wanted to give “the big ones”, like Ted Bundy or John Wayne Gacy, a second chance, right? Even Jeffrey Dahmer has said in an interview that he deserved death for his actions, yet he was in Wisconsin and as they do not have the death penalty, so he only received life without parole, yet got killed by an inmate later. Now, think about how young Nicholas Cruz still is and if he makes it in prison to probably 85 years of age, the costs of his incarceration alone, not including the food and education programs that he may could join, must be astronomical in the end. It just doesn’t make any sense to me, at least not for guys like him or any other ill-minded maniac that can never be brought back to society and which I personally do not want to be back.

    To me, the biggest problem about the death penalty being carried out is the fact that the process of all the appeals for one being on death row is way too slow, so this is something that just needs to be fixed. After all, there have been plenty of prisoners on death row, whose process of appealing took so long that they have died because of natural causes, while being on death row. Quite laughable, isn’t it? I have once read that when England was still in charge, having someone being executed that has been sentenced to death took no longer than one or two days. Again, I am all for appeals, but the process is so incredibly slow these days that this just cries for being fixed.

    I think executing those kinds of prisoners that are clearly responsible for their actions and using a firing squad for those executions is just fine. Constructing all the chemicals for the needle is way too costly and don’t get me started on the electric chair. For Ted Bundy’s execution alone all the lights went out in the prison, while the chair has been activated, that’s how much expensive energy you need just for firing up “Old Sparky”. Being executed by a firing squad is, as far as I believe, the quickest and maybe, I am not sure, even the cheapest way of executing a prisoner, although I have also never understood the point why you need an entire squad, instead of just one executioner with a rifle, although I know that this was so far always the case in human history. As far as I know, in Japan they still hang their prisoners that have been sentenced to death, so maybe this could be a cheap alternative. And yes, I know that my words sound rather cold and calculating, as if I would be a killer myself.

    Again, this is just my own opinion on this topic, nothing more.

    • Mark N. December 2, 2022, 1:06 am

      At least one of the 8 executioners has his rifle loaded with a blank, giving each executioner a basis to believe that he did not kill. Still, even if seven bullets completely destroy the heart, death is not typically instantaneous, but is delayed until the blood pressure in the brain drops to a level causing unconsciousness. Interestingly enough, a Frenchman made this discovery by examining the heads of those executed by the guillotine, He found that some level of consciousness remained for that period of time.

    • Mark N. December 2, 2022, 1:11 am

      The annual average cost of incarceration per prisoner in California stands at app. $105,000, most of which is the cost of guards etc. Thus, the cost of incarceration for life lasting 60 years (and not adjusting for inflation) is about equal to the cost of the appeals process in a death penalty case. Many prisoners do not live nearly that long. Death row inmates are particularly susceptible to insanity due to years of isolation.

      • Snake December 2, 2022, 8:38 am

        Mark, at first, I want to thank you very much for all the insight that you have given to me, especially about the firing squads! Long ago, there was a time when I have believed that only one member of the squad has a real bullet loaded in his rifle, yet none of the squad members actually knows who of them was the guy with the non-blank round. So, I was really surprised to learn from you that it is exactly the opposite, by just having one member with a loaded blank. It is also very interesting for me to read that even seven shots into the heart are not instantaneous. I wonder if those shots would be quicker if the head would be the target. Yet, reading that even the guillotine is having this kind of “flaw” lets me shiver a bit.

        I also want to agree with you on becoming mentally ill, having to spend plenty of years on death row or, of which I have seen some documentaries, in a supermax facility, which can lead the inmates to become even more dangerous to society, even if they have not been sent to prison for murder. Just now, while writing these words, I remember a story about one death row inmate, who even begged in a letter to the authorities be executed quickly, because he cannot stand the isolation anymore, which he had to experience for years. I also remember that he truly has been executed a few months later, but his letter had no impact on the date for the execution.

    • Let's go Brandon, FJB December 2, 2022, 6:23 am

      I say bring back the gallows. It’s cheap and it’s quick.

      • Snake December 2, 2022, 8:45 am

        I am not sure if it is quick in every execution, but having seen only one true hanging many years ago on the internet, which was not staged for a movie, the hanging of Saddam Hussein, I can say that it was all over in an instant, as soon as the platform opened and he fell down. I remember that he was singing Islamic prayers, but as soon as he fell down there was only silence left coming from him.

    • Ron December 2, 2022, 7:03 am

      I totally agree with you. Seems like the convict has more rights than the victims. They need to really take into account of what he did. How would they feel if it was their daughter or son that was killed.

      • Snake December 2, 2022, 8:49 am

        I also want to agree with you. Those members of the jury in the Cruz case, which voted No and turned a possible death penalty into a life sentence for this crazy mass murderer, should have been thinking about the possibility of their sons or daughters getting killed by a madman like him. I am sure they would have not shown any kind of mercy, if they would have been directly affected.

  • survivor50 December 1, 2022, 9:20 am

    ” Should We Use the Death Penalty More Often? ” …

    ” Do they need to ask ??? “… No… REALLY !!! You need to ASK ???

  • SuperG December 1, 2022, 9:03 am

    The one thing you are guaranteed with when using the death penalty, is no repeat offenders. But it should never be invoked upon the testimony of a sole witness, or just by circumstantial evidence.

  • Mark N. December 1, 2022, 1:43 am

    Although I agree with Professor Lott on many things, on this I disagree. This is not a moral stance, but an economic one. The average cost of incarceration for life without possibility of parole is far less than the average $5 to $7 million in costs to prosecute a death penalty case and the years of appeals afterward. In most of these cases, the defendant is being represented by counsel paid by the state, so taxpayers pay for both sides of the legal costs of the case. And this is to say nothing of the constant wrangling over “cruel and unusual”methods of execution and the boycott of pharmaceutical manufacturers of provision of the execution cocktail, leaving the chair (truly horrible), hanging, or firing squad. I do not see this dispute ending until capital punishment is outlawed, as there are just as many opponents of such punishment as there are gun control advocates.

    Moreover, I am not persuaded that the death penalty deters anyone other than the convict being executed. Most murderers believe they will not be arrested or convicted of the crime, or in the alternative (particularly in domestic violence cases) are considering the consequences of their momentary rage. Teens in particular are unlikely to appreciate the nature of their act or its consequences. Even if we assume some level of deterrence, one has to ask whether the same effect is accomplished with a no parole life sentence.

    Finally, there is and always will be the issue of the innocent convict. The Innocence Project has successfully proven the innocence of multiple people on death row, many of whom are black, poor, and poorly defended, as well as being railroaded by the police into an unjust conviction based on tissue thin evidence or coerced confessions. I propose that the only way to morally justify execution–and there are those that richly deserve it–is in cases where the conviction does not rest on mere circumstantial evidence, but has direct evidence (DNA, finger prints, etc.) directly linking the defendant to the crime.

    • Let's go Brandon, FJB December 2, 2022, 6:33 am

      You say that the cost of life w/out parole is cheaper than the death penalty; If you have an inmate like cruz that’s fairly young. He could spend several decades in prison which means the taxpayers have to cover his medical, clothing, education, food, and possibly entertainment. Although he won’t have much of a life; why does he get to spend several years alive while his victims are gone?! When someone like him is clearly guilty; there should be no appeals. Bring back the gallows and get rid of him.

  • Ronnie Maeker November 30, 2022, 9:52 pm

    Public executions…with media coverage…

    • Let's go Brandon, FJB December 2, 2022, 6:35 am


    • Gunslinger December 2, 2022, 1:24 pm


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