Execution by shooting
Method ofCapital punishment

Execution by shooting is a method of capital punishment in which a person is shot to death by one or more firearms. It is the most common method of execution worldwide, used in about 70 countries,[1] with execution by firing squad being one particular form.

In most countries, execution by a firing squad has historically been considered a more honorable death and was used primarily for military personnel, though in some countries—among them Belarus, the only state in Europe today that has the death penalty—the single executioner shooting inherited from the Soviet past is still in use.


See also: Capital punishment in Brazil

Although Brazil abolished capital punishment in peacetime, it can be used for certain crimes in a period of war, such as betrayal, conspiracy, mutiny, unauthorised retreat in battles, and theft of equipment or supplies in a military base.[2][3] The execution method in this case is execution by shooting.[2][4]


See also: Capital punishment in Belarus

A PB pistol with suppressor, used for the executions in Belarus

In Belarus, executions are performed by a single executioner shooting the condemned through the brain from behind with a suppressed pistol.[5]

Soviet bloc

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See also: Capital punishment in the Soviet Union

In the basements of a Cheka, by Ivan Vladimirov

In 20th-century communist states, shooting was a standard form of execution of civilian and military prisoners alike, with the Soviet Union setting an example of the single-executioner approach. The firing squad, with its solemn and lengthy ceremony was used infrequently.

The most common method was the firing of a pistol bullet ("nine grams of lead") into the brain.

This method was widely used during the Great Purges of the late 1930s at locations outside the major cities, e.g. Krasny Bor near Petrozavodsk, against purportedly anti-social elements, "counter-revolutionaries" and other enemies of the people.

It was also used in the execution of those who had committed ordinary criminal offences. Even after the breakup of the Soviet Union, people continued to be executed by shooting. Serial killer Andrei Chikatilo was executed in this way in 1994, just before Russia discontinued capital punishment as part of its accession to the Council of Europe.

United Kingdom

See also: Capital punishment in the United Kingdom

No British citizen has ever been executed for a civilian crime by shooting by the British Crown Judiciary. A Royal Commission on Capital Punishment considered shooting as a possible alternative to hanging, although the findings published in 1953 concluded shooting was not a sufficiently effective means of execution to justify a switch to the method from hanging.

United States

See also: Capital punishment in the USA

Since 1608, about 142 men have been judicially shot in the United States and its English-speaking predecessor territories, excluding executions related to the American Civil War.[6] During the American Civil War, 433 of the 573 men executed were shot dead by a firing squad: 186 of the 267 executed by the Union Army, and 247 of the 306 executed by the Confederate Army.

Today, execution by shooting is still allowed in the US states of Oklahoma, South Carolina and Utah.


An execution by shooting in Shanghai in 1948

See also



  1. ^ a b Clark, Richard (2006). "Shot at dawn!". Capital Punishment U.K. Retrieved 2009-06-10.
  2. ^ a b "Afinal, existe pena de morte no Brasil?". Jusbrasil (in Brazilian Portuguese). Retrieved 2018-04-21.
  3. ^ "Art. 5, inc. XLVII, "a" da Constituição Federal de 88". Jusbrasil. Retrieved 2018-04-21.
  4. ^ "Lei brasileira ainda prevê pena de morte; saiba quando pode ser aplicada". Gazeta do Povo (in Portuguese). Retrieved 2018-04-21.
  5. ^ Gypsy Laborer Faces Execution In Belarus CBS News, October 13, 2009
  6. ^ M. Watt Espy and John Ortiz Smylka's database, "Executions in the U.S. 1608-2002: The Espy File." (Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research) [1]
  7. ^ "Bahrain executes three Shi'ites for bombing, sparks outcry". January 15, 2017. Retrieved October 10, 2019 – via www.reuters.com.
  8. ^ "陕西米脂杀9名学生罪犯赵泽伟被执行枪决_手机网易网". 3g.163.com. 27 September 2018. Retrieved 10 October 2019.
  9. ^ "China's mobile death fleet". Asia Times. Archived from the original on 2007-02-09.((cite web)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  10. ^ # ^ Sahib: The British Soldier in India 1750-1914 Richard Holmes HarperCollins 2005
  11. ^ Cormack, Lucy (2015-01-17). "Drug traffickers in Indonesia face firing squad of 12 in first executions of 2015". SMH. SMH. Retrieved 2015-01-17.
  12. ^ “Le président mongol veut abolir la peine de mort”, Le Monde, 14 January 2009
  13. ^ "Executions worldwide this month". www.capitalpunishmentuk.org. Retrieved 10 October 2019.
  14. ^ Rogers, Simon; Chalabi, Mona (2013-12-13). "Death penalty statistics, country by country". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015-12-13. Public executions were known to have been carried out in Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Somalia.
  15. ^ Amnesty Intl., Death Penalty, MDE 20/002/2001, 8 May 2001.
  16. ^ "Thailand Department of Corrections: Death Penalty". Archived from the original on 2006-04-14. Retrieved 2007-11-11.
  17. ^ "Executioner".
  18. ^ "The Last Executioner". 13 August 2007. Retrieved 10 October 2019.
  19. ^ Ltd.Thailand, VOICE TV. "ความตายในรอบ 9 ปี 'ราชทัณฑ์' ประหารชีวิตนักโทษชาย คดีฆ่าชิงทรัพย์". VoiceTV. Retrieved 10 October 2019.
  20. ^ "Man who raped, killed eight-year-old boy Obaida executed". gulfnews.com. Retrieved 10 October 2019.
  21. ^ "Executions worldwide this month". www.capitalpunishmentuk.org. Retrieved 10 October 2019.


  • Zelitch, Judah. "Soviet Administration of Criminal Law". University of Pennsylvania Press, 1931.