Shooting through the head is more humane
A few days ago a despicable murderer named Cal Coburn Brown, who tortured a 22-year-old woman to death, was executed in Washington State, via a new technique that involves injection of a single chemical.
In June, Utah executed a murderer by firing squad. Other states and the federal government employ electrocution, hanging or multiple-chemical injection to impose capital punishment. Method of execution is a hot controversy right now in many places, and the controversy may increase if any of several current terror cases lead to the death penalty.
Method of execution is controversial because all current methods cause suffering by the condemned.
So here’s a proposal for anyone who supports capital punishment. The condemned should be shot in the head.
No means of killing a human being is faster, and thus suffering is minimized. And the death penalty is not about vengeance, right? It’s about justice. Justice should be swift. The swiftest and least painful path to death is being shot in the head.
The electric chair is a horrific way to die – the flesh burns and smokes, the condemned is gagged so that screams do not distress witnesses. Hanging usually is quick, but not always – sometimes the neck doesn’t snap and the condemned slowly suffocates. Multiple-chemical injection requires the condemned to be strapped down to prevent struggling, and may cause convulsions that last several minutes. Single-chemical injection was effective, but caused Brown to moan.
Ronnie Lee Gardner, the murderer executed by Utah in June, chose a firing squad because death by multiple shots to the heart happens faster than by chemicals — there is an argument that shooting is less inhumane than other forms of execution. It took Gardner less than two minutes to die.
Firing squads shoot at the heart because this isn’t messy — the condemned shivers, bleeds and then is still. If firing squads shot at the head, the condemned would feel nothing. Shooting through the head is the sole method of execution that involves no pain.
Shooting through the head is also the sole method of execution that causes instant death. Instant death is merciful, so that’s what capital-punishment supporters should advocate. Shoot through the head. Get it over with as fast as possible. Television the shooting, too. Might be a deterrent.
The Constitution bans “cruel” punishment. Of all methods of execution, shooting through the head appears least cruel. Gory, sure – society would prefer that the condemned expire quietly. But least cruel. So let’s shoot through the head.
In 2006 the Supreme Court said prisoners could challenge their method of execution on grounds of cruelty, then in 2008 said executions by injection could proceed. Since the Court for decades has been unable to make up its mind about any aspect of the death penalty, it’s sure to rule on this again. Let’s get shooting through the head into the mix.
If persons guilty of capital crimes were shot through the head, this would be widely denounced, even by proponents of the death penalty. But how would it differ, morally, from injecting the condemned with lethal chemicals? Morally, there would be no difference. The only difference would be the yuck factor.
Proponents of capital punishment maintain that although many innocent people have been sentenced to death, the mistakes are always caught on appeal: no innocent person has been executed, at least in the contemporary period. This chilling 2009 New Yorker investigation finds otherwise. But in many cases, including the Washington State murderer, there are no facts in dispute. The right person has been caught, granted a fair trial, and condemned.
So shoot ’em through the head.
How would shooting the condemned through the head differ morally from any other method of execution? It wouldn’t.
Which means if you think the condemned should not be shot through the head — you think capital punishment is wrong.
Killing in self-defense or in defense of others can be moral, for individuals or for nations. Once a person is a prisoner and no longer poses any threat to society, killing becomes immoral. Only God should take the life of a helpless person. Think otherwise? Advocate shooting the condemned through the head.