Mississippi Lawmakers Consider Bringing Back Firing Squads


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?

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