Knoxville Church Shooting Victim Drops Death Penalty Support

“Three days after being shot at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church, Joe Barnhart’s stance on capital punishment has weakened.”

That’s the beginning of an article authored by Marti Davis that appeared in yesterday’s Knoxville News Sentinel and can be read by clicking HERE.

“The 76-year-old says he used to support capital punishment, but now it doesn’t seem the answer for what he calls “this kind of evil.”

That quote was taken from Associated Press writer Duncan Mansfield’s article which can be read by clicking HERE.

It has become clear that the shooter intended to die in the ordeal. He indicated in some pages found in his vehicle that he presumed he would die by police gun fire. This knowledge and Joe Barnhart’s change of heart leads me to question, what purpose then does the death penalty serve? One of the main implied purposes of the death penalty is to serve as a deterrent to potential violence. We’ve had the death penalty in Tennessee since 1976 and have used it and tragedies continue to occur. Joe Barnhart has realized that responding to this kind of evil with a death sentence accomplishes nothing. Life without parole is a viable sentence that keeps individuals like the shooter in prison for the rest of their lives.

I think that it takes a lot of courage to speak publicly and take a stance as Barnhart has done. I applaud him for doing so.

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