Firing Squad

Firing squad still remains as a method of execution in a couple states if lethal injection cannot be performed (Utah & Okla.). The most recent execution by this method was that of Ronnie Gardner. By his own choosing, Gardner was executed by firing squad in Utah on June 17, 2010.

For execution by this method, the inmate is typically bound to a chair with leather straps across his waist and head, in front of an oval-shaped canvas wall. The chair is surrounded by sandbags to absorb the inmate's blood. A black hood is pulled over the inmate's head. A doctor locates the inmate's heart with a stethoscope and pins a circular white cloth target over it. Standing in an enclosure 20 feet away, five shooters are armed with .30 caliber rifles loaded with single rounds. One of the shooters is given blank rounds. Each of the shooters aims his rifle through a slot in the canvas and fires at the inmate. (Weisberg, 1991)

The prisoner dies as a result of blood loss caused by rupture of the heart or a large blood vessel, or tearing of the lungs. The person shot loses consciousness when shock causes a fall in the supply of blood to the brain. If the shooters miss the heart, by accident or intention, the prisoner bleeds to death slowly. (Hillman, 1992 and Weisberg, 1991)

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