Death Penalty Utah

Firing Squad: Utah Proposes Old Death Penalty Execution As A ‘Humane Way To Kill Somebody’

The firing squad may make a comeback in Utah as the preferred form of death penalty execution if one politician has his way.

In a related report by The Inquisitr, an effort to bring back the firing squad execution in Wyoming faltered after the state Senate shot it down. The reason firing squad bill came up in the first place is because states are finding it increasingly harder to obtain the right mix of drugs required for the lethal injection from suppliers. In addition, the firing squad is considered a cheaper alternative to building gas chambers or even the cost of a wooden gallows.

Now Utah’s firing squad bill will not be proposed until January of 2015, but Republican Representative Paul Ray believes the discussion should start right now:

“It sounds like the Wild West, but it’s probably the most humane way to kill somebody. The prisoner dies instantly. It sounds draconian. It sounds really bad, but the minute the bullet hits your heart, you’re dead. There’s no suffering. There’s no easy way to put somebody to death, but you need to be efficient and effective about it. This is certainly one way to do that.”

The last person to be executed by Utah’s firing squad was Ronnie Lee Gardner in 2010, who was shot to death by five police officers armed with.30-caliber Winchester rifles. Although Utah eliminated that form of death penalty execution in 2004, Gardner was convicted of fatally shooting a lawyer while attempting to escape a courthouse during 1985. Because his death sentence was handed down before the firing squad was removed as an option the execution was still carried out.

Several other current death row inmates in Utah have actually opted to be killed by firing squad rather than risk a horrible death by lethal injection. For example, Ray cited the recent botched execution in Oklahoma where the inmate was said to be “tortured to death.” Witnesses say the man suffered for 43 minutes after the drugs were administered and eventually died of a heart attack.

The real question is whether or not Ray will making the firing squad bill require Utah to use it as the default for the death penalty or whether it will be optional for condemned prisoners to choose. The US Supreme Court has already upheld the usage of firing squads for the death penalty, but this court decision was made in 1879 and people nowadays may feel differently on the matter.

Richard Dieter, executive director of the Washington, D.C.,-based Death Penalty Information Center, opposes all forms of capital punishment and believes bringing back the firing squad is a bad idea:

“The idea is that it would be very quick and accurate but just a little movement by the person could change that. Things can go wrong with any method of execution.”

Do you believe a firing squad execution could be a humane way of enacting the death penalty?

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