If headed out of this world early, how would you like to go? Brett Talley, President Trump’s latest and youngest nominee to be a federal judge, would prefer firing squad.
Responding to the horrific and inhumane execution of Oklahoma murderer Clayton Lockett in 2015, Talley wrote under a screen name on an online sports blog that a “bullet’s cheap.” Preferring that alternative form of capital punishment, he concluded: “Just shoot them. That’s effective.”
While the aspiring 36-year-old jurist erred in transparency—nominees must disclose pertinent, public conversations to the Senate prior to confirmation—he wasn’t wrong about the firing squad.
Convicts on death row and intellectuals in ivory towers agree. A 22-cent, 30-cal. bullet does a better job punching an early ticket out of existence than an often unreliable and expensive cocktail of lethal drugs.
Convicted of murder in 1996, John Albert Taylor requested a firing squad because he didn’t want to "flop around like a dying fish." And also convicted of murder later in 2010, Ronnie Lee Gardner requested the same method, telling a Utah Court “it’s so much easier…and there’s no mistakes.”
The example of Lockett explains that sentiment. Convicted of kidnapping, rape, and murder, he was sentenced to death by legal injection—a nice, sterile, and humane sounding procedure. In reality, Lockett was stabbed with dozens of needles as an unqualified staff tried desperately to find a vein to administer the mixture of lethal drugs.
Writhing, convulsing, and groaning, Lockett tried to fight through his restraints, even after a sedative was administered. Witnesses heard Lockett beg his executioners to kill him more quickly, telling them “something’s wrong.” After 43-minutes of agony, Lockett was finally declared dead. A coroner would later conclude that his death was the result of a heart attack.
Whether or not one finds capital punishment questionable is irrelevant. The pacifist and the bellicose should agree, if the state is going to kill someone, the government should have the decency to kill quickly.
Currently there are so many questions about lethal injection, even academics prefer the brutal efficiency of bullets.
"States are trying out new lethal-injection cocktails, and there is inadequate training and supervision and oversight of execution teams," David Waisel, an associate professor of anesthesia at Harvard Medical School, told the Sydney Morning Herald in 2014. "Given these recurring problems with lethal injections, if I had to be executed, I would choose a firing squad."
If anything, Talley is only guilty of running his mouth. As far as means of execution though, it’s hard to argue with his logic.