South Carolina Brings Back Firing Squads, Remembers They're Horrific
As the United States attempts to return to normalcy now that the threat of COVID-19 is sorta kinda not really over (and actually spiking but we don’t talk about that) certain things are back on the schedule, like indoor concerts, blockbuster movies, and executions. However, as much as South Carolina wants to get back to the business of capital punishment and make up for lost time, they’re running into all sorts of major inconveniences.
First off, their supply of pentobarbital, one of the three secret herbs and spices that make up a lethal injection, apparently all expired in 2013, meaning it’s now considered inhumane to use because it tastes awful. When they went to drug companies to re-up on their supply of the drug, they found out that nowadays, drug companies aren’t big on being publicly named as death suppliers. This resulted in an almost vaudevillian loophole in which death row inmates could choose lethal injection as their method of execution, knowing they didn’t have the actual injection and couldn’t get it. Not to mention the other method available to them was the electric chair, which… yeah. It’s hard to argue that a method of execution is humane when it’s on the cover of Megadeth albums.
So some South Carolina representatives came up with a classic “so crazy it just might work” solution: bring back firing squads? Now, firing squads have been out of vogue for quite some time, the last attempted execution by firing squad being that of Bugs Bunny in the 1942 cartoon “Fresh Hare”, which also features blackface, because of course it does. In reality, execution by firing squad does still occasionally happen, very rarely. Since 1976, only three have been performed, the last in 2010.
Why is it so rare? Well, you can ask South Carolina, because as we speak they are realizing exactly why the practice was stopped. The representatives may have gotten a fun soundbite and maybe some Tough On Crime credit for their next election, but now it’s up to the prison system to actually set this thing up.
The prison spent a little over $50,000 to renovate an execution chamber for the firing squad, with bulletproof glass, and holes for the 3 shooters to aim their guns through, aiming at the heart of the person to be executed. Once it was all built, I assume they stepped back, dusted off their hands, and then realized, “Man… this is… dark.”
The surprising thing about a firing squad is that it is surprisingly effective and quick. The reason it was retired was largely, like hangings, because of the grisly spectacle it provides. Given the media coverage that’s popped up, it’s clear it remains that way. By trying to support capital punishment, they’ve forced everyone to confront its reality more clearly than ever.
If they want to bring back the firing squad, fine, but I think they should have to be in the witness room, because I bet they barf up their lobbyist-bought lunch like a rookie cop.