Convicted murderer Ronnie Lee Gardner received the death penalty in 2004. He was allowed to choose his method of death, and he picked firing squad, because the law hadn’t changed yet in Utah. So at 12:17 am this morning, he was tied to a chair with a big white target on his chest and shot at by a number of anonymous police officers who had volunteered for the task.
People have been protesting this like crazy. According to a WSJ article, “The American Civil Liberties Union decried Mr. Gardner’s execution as an example of what it called the U.S. ‘s ‘barbaric, arbitrary and bankrupting practice of capital punishment.'” And John Knefel wrote in an article for True/Slant, “Now, I’m against all forms of Capital Punishment because I’m not a barbaric sociopath, but even if you’re in favor of Capital Punishment, certainly death by firing squad must strike you as cruel and unusual.”
First of all, how is firing squad more cruel or unusual than lethal injection or electrocution? People seem to be saying, “Look. It’s one thing when you strap a man into a chair, stick a bunch of wires to his body and fry the shit out of him with electric currents while people watch through a window, but shooting him in the chest with a bunch of guns is just way over the line.”
Second of all, why do all these protesters not also have a problem with us taking our firing squads overseas to Iraq and Afghanistan and shooting random “threats to society” over there? Just because we don’t have to see it? Or because these people aren’t American citizens, so ‘cruel and unusual’ doesn’t apply to them? Or because a random dirt-poor dude with particular political and religious affiliations in Afghanistan is a far more imminent threat to our personal safety than a convicted murderer who’s already on American soil?
All I’m asking for is some consistency here. Are we fine with shooting people we perceive to be dangerous, or are we not? If not, end the death penalty and bring home our troops. If so, then stop being such a hyprocrite and deal with the fact that this is what a firing squad looks like. We see it once every 20 years in America– Afghani citizens see it every day.