Tuesday, May 16, 2017

In some cases, all but one member of the firing squad may be issued a weapon containing a blank cartridge.[2] Sometimes all but one member has live rounds.[3] No member of the firing squad is told beforehand if he is using live ammunition. This is believed to reinforce the sense of diffusion of responsibility among the firing squad members. This diffusion of responsibility makes the execution process more reliable because the members are more likely to aim to kill if they aren't entirely blamed for it, or if there is a chance they didn't fire the lethal shot. It also allows each member of the firing squad to believe afterwards that he did not personally fire a fatal shot[4]—for this reason, it is sometimes referred to as the "conscience round". According to a Private W. A. Quinton, who served in the British Army during the First World War and had the experience of being in a firing squad in October 1915, he and eleven colleagues were relieved of any live ammunition and their own rifles, before being issued with replacement weapons. The firing squad was then given a short speech by an officer before they fired a volley at the condemned man. He said about the episode, "I had the satisfaction of knowing that as soon as I fired, the absence of any recoil, [indicated] that I had merely fired a blank cartridge".[5] In more recent times, such as in the execution of Ronnie Lee Gardner in the American state of Utah in 2010, a rifleman may be given a "dummy" cartridge containing a wax bullet instead of a lead bullet, which provides a more realistic recoil.

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