NH Legislator Tries to Bring Back Firing Squads

Via Sentencing Law and Policy, a legislator in New Hampshire has introduced a bill to restore executions by firing squad.

Burridge’s bill recommends a firing squad of five men, one whose gun carries blanks, to keep it unclear which shooter is responsible for death. During the execution, the prisoner would be hooded and wear a target over his heart. Each shooter would aim for that target.

Burridge said he chose the method primarily for its public-relations value. He said he thought a death by shooting might be more likely to stick in the minds of would-be criminals and deter them from committing crimes using guns. “I call it the enhanced death penalty,” he said. “You’ve got to love the marketing.”


Sorry, Mr. Burridge, there's nothing to love about any aspect of capital punishment. The article quotes studies finding that death by firing squad may be more humane than lethal injection.

No form of execution is humane.

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    The medical profession might prefer this. (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by oculus on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 03:28:07 PM EST
    Too much call for a physician to be present to administer lethal injection.

    I think Mr. Burridge has been watching too many old movies, though.

    I understand, oculus... (none / 0) (#31)
    by weltec2 on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 03:30:40 AM EST
    I would not want to be the physician. ...to stand over your victim knowing that what you are injecting into her will kill her as certainly as she killed her victims... you the outside force, divorced somehow from this act... but very much a part of it.

    One Physician vs 5 shooters (none / 0) (#39)
    by sj on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 10:55:04 AM EST
    I think that playing executioner must kill one's spirit as surely as it kills the victim's body.  So instead of making one physicial soulless, he proposes damaging 5 shooters by having them kill an unarmed person.

    I find it very hard to imagine (5.00 / 6) (#4)
    by Steve M on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 03:50:34 PM EST
    the person who would be inclined to commit first-degree murder, but would refrain because of the possibility that they might get caught, and then they might get convicted, and then they might face execution by the relatively scary firing squad.  Oh, but if it was only lethal injection, they'd go ahead and commit that murder.  Come on.

    Some of my Dad's old clients would (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by inclusiveheart on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 07:46:29 PM EST
    just say it wouldn't be much different from what they expected to happen to them eventually on the streets anyway - maybe they'd say it is more predictable - meaning the actual event - but beyond that from what he said about his clients a lot of them figured they'd be shot sometime anyway which seemed to be some rationale for continuing their lives on the criminal side of our society.

    These kinds of "risks" only really reasonate with people who feel that they have something to lose.


    Are you suggesting that (none / 0) (#44)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 12:44:20 PM EST
    the consequences for breaking the law have no affect on whether people choose to break the law?

    At that level of extreme generality (none / 0) (#47)
    by Steve M on Tue Feb 17, 2009 at 07:17:05 AM EST
    no, I would not suggest that.

    Frankly I can't believe (5.00 / 3) (#10)
    by mg7505 on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 06:43:50 PM EST
    this is even being taken seriously. It's like something from the Onion, SNL, the Daily Show, or a mediocre college satire magazine -- only it's real.

    Actually, here's the Onion's take (none / 0) (#41)
    by jbindc on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 12:00:21 PM EST

    Not workplace appropriate, but amusing.


    Disgusting (5.00 / 3) (#14)
    by mmc9431 on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 07:59:02 PM EST
    Why not stoning and broadcast it on pay per view! There are times in the last few years when I'm really embarassed to be an American.

    A few years back, there was a proposal (none / 0) (#33)
    by scribe on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 03:51:32 AM EST
    in New Jersey, (during the Whitman administration) IIRC, following the death of one "Death row" inmate at the hands (or rather feet - he was stomped to death) of another in their exercise cage* that the State save some money, and make some money, by videotaping such inmate on inmate crime and selling it on pay per view.

    The suggstion came from a state senator.  His jutification was "after all, these moo-lin-yawns are all animals, anyway."  

    And, yes, he was a Republican.
    * For some reason never fully explained the staff at the prison charged with keeping order just couldn't find their way into the special death row exercise cage even though they wwere monitoring thevideo feed every second of every minute of every day that anyone was there.


    Ah yes, Ambrose Harris (none / 0) (#43)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 12:33:47 PM EST
    & Robert "Mudman" Simon. Couple a real peaches.

    Anyway, I'd love to see the link to the State Senator story, I can't imagine he was suggesting pay per viewing the video of the Mudman murder or any other inmate murders.


    Get Real (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by Randinho on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 08:09:37 PM EST
    This is one of the most asinine parts:

    Burridge's bill recommends a firing squad of five men, one whose gun carries blanks, to keep it unclear which shooter is responsible for death.

    I've fired blanks and live rounds and can tell the difference. The idea that an experienced marksman wouldn't is patently absurd.

    Seriously? So have I. (none / 0) (#42)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 12:15:53 PM EST
    It seems to me that if the "blanks" (a live round with some sort of non-lethal paper/cardboard wad instead of a lead bullet) had the same amount of gun powder in them as the "real" live rounds, the kick from both should be identical.

    What did he do to become minority leader? (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by andgarden on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 11:56:17 PM EST
    Did the two GOPers toss a coin?

    New Hampshire's legislature (5.00 / 1) (#34)
    by scribe on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 04:00:48 AM EST
    has the largest membership - well over 600 legislators - of any legislative body in the US.  Maybe the world.

    And they get paid like $25 or $50 per year for the privilege.

    So, that works out to about 3000 or 3500 constitutents per legislator.  That's a tiny fraction of the people represented by a member of the city council in any city of any size.

    The low pay, tiny constituency and size of the body are bound to attract whackjobs, and that's what we have here.

    The real question is "why is the national media paying attention to this clown?"

    New Hampshire State Rep. Delmar Burridge, D-Keene, is sponsoring H.B. 37, a bill providing for execution by firing squad for anyone who causes the death of another person by use of a firearm while engaged in the commission of a felony - an offense that would be considered capital murder under Burridge's plan.

    Well, its more humane (none / 0) (#2)
    by Exeter on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 03:43:46 PM EST
    ...and that says quite a bit about the sad current state of affairs!

    Maybe we could add smoking cigarettes (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by inclusiveheart on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 07:47:32 PM EST
    to the list of options.

    Why not for (none / 0) (#5)
    by SOS on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 05:02:28 PM EST
    CEO's, Finance Guys and all the other crooks we've been bailing out recently?

    Hell of a lot cheaper.

    I've always wondered... (none / 0) (#7)
    by EL seattle on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 05:22:02 PM EST
    ... do blanks have the same "kick" as live ammo?  It's a warm and fuzzy sweet idea to leave "a little doubt" in the minds of the shooter, but, really, can't they tell if they're just fired a live round?

    I remember as a boy (none / 0) (#32)
    by weltec2 on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 03:37:22 AM EST
    in the army. I couldn't feel it, but I could hear it. When you're scared shtlss even in BCT, your senses are enlivened and you learn to LISTEN with your whole being.

    Firing squads? Charming. But so very Spanish (none / 0) (#8)
    by No Blood for Hubris on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 06:03:53 PM EST
    Civil War, no?

    Why don't they just waterboard their victims to death?

    That seems to work just fine.

    Gary Gilmore (none / 0) (#9)
    by MKS on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 06:31:25 PM EST
    was shot by firing squad to usher in the resumption of capital punishment....

    Have we started to come full circle?

    As I recall he was thrilled to be (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by inclusiveheart on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 07:49:25 PM EST
    put to death too.  I always thought it was supposed to be punishment, not a grant to a wish.

    In Utah (none / 0) (#27)
    by cal1942 on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 12:10:55 AM EST
    if my memory is still intact.

    Yup (none / 0) (#38)
    by MKS on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 10:37:07 AM EST
    This is repugnant! (none / 0) (#15)
    by mexboy on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 08:03:08 PM EST

    yeah, (none / 0) (#19)
    by Lil on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 09:46:28 PM EST
    and then the guy says imagine the marketing, like the death penalty is subject to branding. How are these guys not embarrased by themselves. sicko.

    Embarrassing (none / 0) (#21)
    by NH on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 10:03:11 PM EST
    Yes this House is very embarassing, since 2006.

    I thought the myth (none / 0) (#17)
    by kenosharick on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 08:40:37 PM EST
    that the death penalty was a deterent had gone out of fashion. I guess ignorance is alive and well in N.H.

    Having lived there (none / 0) (#29)
    by NMvoiceofreason on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 12:25:51 AM EST
    I can swear in an affidavit that your assertion is true.

    Personally, the whole "being drawn and quartered" was much more likely to deter people who were of a deterable mindset and not rash or impulsive or anything.

    Just saying.


    Sadistic Old School (none / 0) (#18)
    by squeaky on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 08:50:18 PM EST
    Hello From NH (none / 0) (#20)
    by NH on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 10:01:14 PM EST
    Interesting, Mr. Burridge is a far left Democrat.

    They have been introducing all sorts of intrusive and freedom robbing legislation. NH used to be free...

    I am against the death penalty, because I feel that I cannot justify it and be pro-life (for the most part) at the same time, I just can't.

    You are lying (none / 0) (#22)
    by eric on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 11:23:51 PM EST
    with your "far left democrat" accusation.

    Post-partum abortions (none / 0) (#30)
    by NMvoiceofreason on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 12:26:58 AM EST
    never get the same attention from the Republicans.

    And we (none / 0) (#28)
    by cal1942 on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 12:20:24 AM EST
    thought the changes to the bankruptcy laws were onerous.

    ordinarily, (none / 0) (#35)
    by cpinva on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 06:09:13 AM EST
    Personally, the whole "being drawn and quartered" was much more likely to deter people who were of a deterable mindset and not rash or impulsive or anything.

    that was reserved for treason. you were hung until almost unconscious, cut down, your belly slit open from stem to stern; still pulsing organs removed and burned on an open brazier in front of you; castrated (if male), genitals either stuffed in your mouth, or also burned in front of you (by that time, i doubt you cared much either way). finally, you were beheaded and your body quartered. the various parts were impaled on pikes, then posted at the city entrances, as a warning to others.

    this was all done in public, with great showmanship by the participants (well, except for the condemned, who usually just screamed and moaned a lot). i really must stop watching the history channel!

    unfortunately, it's deterrant effect seemed to be only temporary. except, of course, for the departed.

    now that was family entertainment! and an educational experience for the kids.

    actually, it matters not if this guy's bill passes, he got the free publicity he was seeking.

    Firing squad... (none / 0) (#36)
    by kdog on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 08:43:34 AM EST
    doesn't seem any less humane that hanging, the chair, or lethal injection...like Jeralyn said it is all inhumane.

    In fact, if I was sentenced to die I'd take firing squad over those other options...a bullet through the heart beats snapping a neck, high voltage, or the waiting strapped down on a gurney for the poison to take hold.

    And maybe New Hampsire marksmen will make moral objections to killing for the state where so many physicians have not.

    Seriously (5.00 / 1) (#37)
    by Slado on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 10:27:01 AM EST
    There is no good way to kill a man.  They all suck and are as Kdog points out inhumane.

    I've never understood the fascination some on the right have with executions.  I mean there are plenty of inhumane ways to treat someone inside our prison system that are much worse then a death sentence.  

    If the goal is retribution then why execute someone?  Isn't it for arguments sake worse for that person to be kept alive and made miserable?  Aren't we really giving them a pass when we kill them?

    I mean if the point is retribution lets pull them apart with ropes in a public square like they did in Braveheart.  Otherwise going to all the trouble to kill someone humanely is just a big waste of taxpayer money.


    What if they miss? (none / 0) (#40)
    by KoolJeffrey on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 11:54:27 AM EST
    How humane could that be?

    Have you got a link for that? (none / 0) (#45)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 01:12:07 PM EST
    I'm interested in reading about it but I can't seem to find any such legislation.

    Execution (none / 0) (#48)
    by Cacophony on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 11:26:31 AM EST
    No form of execution is humane?
    What if its to something that isn't human?
    Can you call a dog human? No. We put -them- down if they're vicious.
    Can you call a human who kills people? It obviously has lost regard for human life. It is no longer barred by the restraints and fear that we are..So, out of fear we
    put them down.
    We do it to maintain control. What you're asking for, Jeralyn, by saying that no form of execution is humane, is to say that the people who kill others to maintain an order are inhuman. To say that is silly. You're saying that anyone who kills someone in defense of themselves or another is inhuman and morally corrupt. If someone came at me with a knife, and I managed to kill them, I would be considered, probably, something of a hero for defending myself. Even more so if I killed someone who was attacking another person in a lethal manner.

    So how is it that executing someone who, if ever let out of prison would more than likely kill someone, is so horribly wrong? How is it?