The death penalty would be just for the El Paso shooter – Washington Examiner

On Saturday morning, a Walmart in El Paso, Texas became a horrific crime scene after a 21-year-old man opened fire on innocent shoppers, killing 20. That evening, a 24-year-old man opened fire in a bar in Dayton, Ohio killing 9, including his sister. Unfortunately, it’s not a question of whether violence of this magnitude will occur again, it’s when.

While the Dayton shooter was killed by police in the firefight, the El Paso shooter is in custody and will likely spend the rest of his life in prison as a result of the killings. Due to the nature of the crimes and the certainty of guilt based on video, DNA, and eyewitness evidence, the death penalty is the only moral conclusion. This holds true in other mass shootings whether the victim count is low or high.

Those who remain opposed to the death penalty cite many reasons as to why they believe it is wrong. It is important to take into consideration the fact that there are some innocent men and women sitting in prison right now. We know this because others have been exonerated years after they began their sentence. If any sliver of doubt over guilt remains, the death penalty should not be pursued.

But again, in cases where there is no question of responsibility, the state has the power to hand down the sentence of death, and it should. Whether or not the death penalty deters copycat crimes is not the point of capital punishment. Yes, there is that hope that deterrence will be an effect of such a harsh conclusion, but individual crimes should be dealt with and punished on an individual basis, according to our nation’s laws, and in the light of basic morality.

Society should not relish the idea of ending a life, no matter how horrific the crime that leads to that end. Taking a life because a life was taken knowingly and purposely is always a sad saga. But this does not make state-sanctioned killing of one who is undoubtedly guilty to be wrong.

The gunman who took almost two-dozen lives on Saturday morning in El Paso will face charges of domestic terrorism. Because of the nature of his crime and the state in which it was committed, he is likely to face a sentence of death.

“I know the death penalty is something very powerful, but in this occasion it’s something that’s necessary,” El Paso District Attorney Jaime Esparza told reporters Sunday morning.

It’s too early to know how those jurisdiction questions will play out in the El Paso shooting, but Texas has executed more people than any other state in the country by far — with more than 560 people put to death since capital punishment was reinstated nationally in 1976. Eleven men are scheduled to be executed before the end of the year.

There is no “winning” in the El Paso case or any other case where a perpetrator kills multiple people and then outlives his victims. However, punishing these crimes with a sentence of death is not only appropriate for the circumstance, but the only true measure of justice left. The government will never be able to stop life-ending violence from taking place, but it can certainly play a part by delivering a final, morally based consequence to the most egregious of acts.

Kimberly Ross (@SouthernKeeks) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential blog and a columnist at Arc Digital.


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