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jeanmay's avatar

Would you face the firing squad?

Asked by jeanmay (3424points) April 23rd, 2010

Under state law in Utah a condemned criminal convicted before 2004 has the choice of death by lethal injection or by firing squad. One such criminal has recently chosen to face the firing squad.

Why do you think one would choose such a death? Is there such a big difference between the two methods of execution? Is there a sure-fire way of killing a person immediately by firing squad, or is it somewhat trickier?

What would you choose?

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45 Answers

asmonet's avatar

It’s more exciting, I suppose.
Besides, maybe he’s scared of needles.

I’d choose lethal injection, if I had to. I’ve always been fascinated whenever I get shots. May as well go out with something I know I’m cool with.

rebbel's avatar

”...scared of needles.”

LeotCol's avatar

@asmonet needles, hilarious!

@jeanmay I think that it would be easier in the sense that you know exactly when you are going to die, rather than waiting around anxiously for the injection to reach the mark. Though I don’t know anything about either really. Maybe they’re unconscious for the injection.

rangerr's avatar

If I was put in jail for murder… yes, I’d pick firing squad if I could.
I don’t like the idea of someone having a peaceful death after they murdered someone.

shadling21's avatar

I would pick firing squad. You only die once! Might as well end in a bang.

snowberry's avatar

I’d go for the firing squad. It would be fast, so fast I’d never feel it.

On the other hand, every once in a while you get a technician who is clueless about how to place the needle. The result (apparently) is excruciating, if you look at what happens to the body as the poison goes into the tissues, and how they physically respond. They can’t talk for some reason (their mouth taped shut perhaps) so you can only guess, but I believe that’s what a coroner said in an article about it.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

That way you can look into their faces and make them never forget your face.

bobbinhood's avatar

@snowberry They can’t talk because the second drug administered prevents their muscles from working. Also, I’m not sure that it’s possible to have a good technician given that medical professionals are not permitted to carry out the injections. source

wundayatta's avatar

I want to be asleep when I die, so, no. I don’t think I’d choose the firing squad.

cfrydj's avatar

It could be a form of political protest, because it reinforces how antiquated the notion of capital punishment is.

Jeruba's avatar

Any execution is hard on the execution team. Firing squad is certain to be much rougher on them than lethal injection. Lacking any other information, I would be inclined to see this choice as a final act of aggression on the part of the condemned person.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Jeruba That’s what I was trying to say but, as always, you said it much better

janbb's avatar

“Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
and would suffice.”

- Robert Frost

Probably not relevant but it came to mind.

snowberry's avatar

Act of aggression or not, I’d still vote for the firing squad. A mistake with deadly poison working its way through my tissues instead of my veins sounds simply terrible. I think it took that guy hours to die.

jaytkay's avatar

Any execution is hard on the execution team. Firing squad is certain to be much rougher on them

The firing squad members are volunteers. And I recall news stories of earlier executions mentioning the surplus of eager applicants.

And if I really had to choose? Maybe. I guess if I had one last choice on Earth, might as well as show some elan.

But I would hate to make the day of the sicko who would volunteer to kill me.

zophu's avatar

I would prefer the firing squad.

Mind foggy with anti-anxiety drugs
The rubber cord around my arm
The smell of purposeless antiseptic
Deceptively light sting of the needle

eeeesh. Much less creepy just having them shoot you. And what’s the pain matter if you survive the round of shots before the coupdegrace, you’ll be dead soon and wont remember it.

ragingloli's avatar

I would choose suicide bombing. Preferably with a multi megaton thermonuclear device.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

I’d prefer the lethal injection… of nicotine… via cigarettes, over a period of 50 years or so. It seems to be a popular choice, too.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Firing squad by professional sharpshooters.

girlofscience's avatar

Uh, does no one realize how insanely torturous lethal injection is? Firing squad is, by far, the “easier” option and involves far less pain.

I’d go for lethal injection though. But that’s because I want to really feel my death. It’s the last experience I’m ever going to have, so I’d really like to be aware of it happening and feel what that last element of my life is like.

Zen_Again's avatar

Could I get a last cigar?

Hamas in Gaza uses this method all the time – last week twice.

ubersiren's avatar

Firing squad is just bad-ass. It even sounds bad-ass. I’d pick needle, myself.

eden2eve's avatar

They have several gunmen, and one of them has a blank in his gun. This way, nobody knows if his gun fired a lethal shot or not.

The accused in this case said he thought this would be more sure, and that the other method has a larger margin for error. He has had many, many years to think about it, and done whatever research was available to him, so I guess he’d probably be closer to an expert on this topic than any of us hopefully will ever be.

jaytkay's avatar

They have several gunmen, and one of them has a blank in his gun.

That’s what I have read. But does a blank kick like a real bullet? Would the recoil be weak?

Jeruba's avatar

@jaytkay, I edited a sociology book some years ago that made a deep impression on me. It was a study that analyzed every aspect of capital punishment. One chapter was devoted to the actual execution process and described how a team prepares for the act, with assignment of one small task to each member, sequestering, bonding, rehearsal, execution, and aftermath. I don’t think it’s something anyone takes lightly or does for a lark. It sounded like a brutal experience for those who have to carry it out as well as for the condemned person.

escapedone7's avatar

@Jeruba I have read books detailing the history of my area, specifically the lawlessness during prohibition era. The old hangings they had in my area were like a county fair. People turned out with picnic baskets and brought their kids to watch. I know it is odd, but it is true.

Then again, now that I think about it, the same sadistic entertainment was available way back with the Roman gladiators or the guillotines during the French Revolution. I guess there will always be some with no mercy.

TexasDude's avatar

Shoot me! I’m only a man!

jaytkay's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard You know guns. I think maybe you can answer my question. Does a blank kick like a real bullet? Would the recoil be weak?

Factotum's avatar

@escapedone7 It’s so unfair; now we have to go to youtube for sadistic entertainment.

TexasDude's avatar

@jaytkay, the recoil of blank rounds is significantly lighter than regular rounds. Most guns actually require a blank adapter to be fitted on the muzzle to enable the gun to cycle due to the reduced pressure and recoiling action of blank rounds; the motion by which guns work.

Jeruba's avatar

@escapedone7, yes, I know that. The same was true of executions in the Old World—hangings, beheadings, etc. They were not just public entertainment but also object lessons. But that is not part of our culture now.

I wonder what the old-timers who turned out for a public hanging in the name of justice would think of what we are pleased to call “entertainment” on TV and in the movies.

Factotum's avatar

@escapedone7 You raise an excellent point. Those who watched hangings, or witch burnings for that matter, did so in the belief that the accused was guilty and deserving of the death they were sentenced to.

ShiningToast's avatar

@Zen_Again And they’ll light it with a tracer round ;).

DarkScribe's avatar

@eden2eve They have several gunmen, and one of them has a blank in his gun. This way, nobody knows if his gun fired a lethal shot or not.

This old wives’ tale.

There speak a person who has no experience with firearms. A blank has far less recoil – it is impossible not to know if you have just fired a blank.

The controversy that is already arising from his choice looks like getting him one or more stays. I think that it is simply manipulation of the system.

rebbel's avatar

They have several gunmen, and one of them has a blank in his gun. This way, nobody knows if his gun fired a lethal shot or not.
Why not let one of them miss the target on purpose?
Or two of them.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@rebbel you don’t want live rounds being shot off in an enclosed space “just any old way”. Ricochet considerations, for one thing, not to mention damage to the surrounding structure.

Personally, I think if you’re going to be part of a firing squad, you should be fully supportive of the order to kill and have no qualms about it—pretty cold-blooded, in other words. In that case having the moral ‘out’ that “maybe my shot wasn’t fatal” is a moral conceit that only observers and others not involved in the process would care about.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

Re: “those with no mercy”
Spectators (that is, “common folk”) at an execution are not in a position to exercise “mercy”. That could only be shown by the executioner, the one who commands him, or the judge in charge of sentencing. Expecting commoners who witness an execution to show “mercy” is like appealing to crows to stop roadway animal slaughter by automobiles. The crows are there to take advantage, true, but they have no input into the process by which squirrels and possums get killed.

jeanmay's avatar

I can’t believe this actually happened.

zophu's avatar


daytonamisticrip's avatar

he probably wanted the attention of the media. there is a difference. open casket and closed casket. it is a sure fire. dead instantly. I would choose lethal injection so i could have an open casket and to see who would watch me die.

zophu's avatar

@daytonamisticrip What would it matter to you?

daytonamisticrip's avatar

i was just answering the question with what i think. thats why the question was posted. so people can answer

zophu's avatar

@daytonamisticrip I’m sorry, I meant what would it matter to you what people would watch you die?

daytonamisticrip's avatar

i know your just being curious but with the job i have and who i am, i am not going to say why. sorry

SecondHandStoke's avatar

“You are hereby sentenced to death for failure to pay your No Health Insurance fine.”

“Liberty” I shout as the squad takes aim.

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