All around the world death penalty opponents are expressing their feelings about the execution in Utah on June 18th 2010. How can the United States allow this type of death penalty many wonder.
Some call it a western-style execution, others ask what is a death by firing squad. Well the media has reported that is is when the convict who has been sentenced to death is strapped to a chair, a black hood is placed over their head, a target is pinned to their chest, a team of 5 sharpshooters aim and fire at the same time to kill the person. A harsh reality isn’t it.
On April 23, 2010 ABC News reported, “I would like the firing squad, please,” Ronnie Lee Gardner told State court Judge Robin Reese Friday morning. Rather than die by lethal injection Gardner chose to be killed by a 5-man team of executioners and the judge agreed. On June 18th 2010 at aproximately 12:17 a.m. Friday Ronnie Lee Gardner was pronounced dead at the Utah State Prison. Because Gardner was sentenced to death before Utah did away with death by firing squad he was allowed this option for his death penalty.
Ronnie Lee Gardner was the third man killed by a firing squad since the United States Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty or capital punishment in 1976. Death penalty opponents have voiced their opinions about Gardner’s death by firing squad. There are reports that the American Civil Liberties Union called the execution barbaric, the European Union expressed profound regret for the execution in a statement, and religious leaders are calling for an end to the death penalty.
Interestingly, MSNBC has a report by Jennifer Dobner of the Associated Press that gives a little insight into Ronnie Lee Gardner’s childhood which is in no way is an excuse for his criminal behavior, however it does shed some light on why he became an angry and out of control individual capable of murder.
What affect will this firing squad execution have on society? There are way too many illegal firearms on the streets today which end up in the hands of teens, criminals and dangerous gang members. Young adults have access to the Internet and media reports of this execution. It is scary to think about the negative message it may send to our youth about using firearms to kill a person.
One might agree that Utah’s death by firing squad of Ronnie Lee Gardner may be misunderstood by many a youth, as we all know the ‘do as I say and not as I do’ message rarely works; children mimic our behavior. How can we tell our youth that gun violence is wrong if it is allowed by the courts and used by a State as a death penalty to kill someone albeit a convict sentenced to death.
Whether or not the death penalty should be abolished or is a violation of one’s Eight Amendment rights and is cruel and unusual punishment is a debate that will continue. Many may agree that this western style type of execution seems extremely cruel and violent. The message it sends is arguable. Afterall, we are fighting an up-hill battle to stop gun violence.