Last week, federal prosecutors formally filed charges against Jared Lee Loughner, the alleged gunman in Tucson's deadly Jan. 8 shooting rampage. So far, however, Loughner has only been charged with the attempted murders of the shooting's survivors, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Before lawyers can formally accuse Loughner of shooting the six victims who died, the United States Attorney's office in Tucson and the Justice Department in Washington must decide whether to ask jurors to impose the death penalty if Loughner is convicted. Is the ultimate penalty clearly warranted in this case, or should prosecutors seek a life sentence? (Watch a report about Loughner's fate)
The Tucson shooter deserves death: This massacre was a "monstrous act of evil," says Bryan Fischer at Rightly Concerned, and it cries out for biblical justice. The ancient civil code of Israel called for swift execution for murder. That's the only fitting punishment when so much "innocent blood" has been shed.
"Change of venue for Loughner: Perfectly terrible and unbiblical idea"
A life sentence is more likely: "If statistics are any indication, [Loughner] has a good chance of escaping execution," says Marisa Taylor at McClatchy Newspapers. Jurors "can be hesitant to mete out the ultimate punishment," even in the "most heinous" cases, especially when the defendant has a history of mental illness, as Loughner does. Otherwise, we wouldn't have so many "high-profile convicted killers" — including Unabomber Ted Kaczynski and Olympic Park bomber Eric Rudolph — serving life sentences.
"Arizona shooting suspect might escape death if convicted"
This case could quiet opposition to capital punishment: "The death penalty has rightfully come under attack," especially now that DNA evidence has shown that innocent people sometimes get convicted, says Dan Thomasson at Scripps Howard New Service. But the Tucson massacre was such "an enormous affront to civilized society" that it will test our collective impulse to show mercy. Scores of eyewitnesses say Loughner gunned down 19 people, including a 9-year-old girl, and the country is "so outraged" that "our demand for vengeance is almost irresistible."
"Tucson shootings may test beliefs about death penalty"