Firing squads were issued blank cartridges to avoid guilt


During executions, firing squads are issued a blank cartridge to either all-but-one, or one-but-not-all of the members. 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 are not entirely blamed for it, or if there is a chance they did not fire the lethal shot. It also allows each member of the firing squad to believe afterward that he did not personally fire a fatal shot—for this reason, it is sometimes referred to as the “conscience round”.

Source: Wikipedia

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