Utah Approves Death By Firing Squad, But Only Under Certain Stipulations

The state of Utah has just approved the use of firing squads. Though that may sound rather archaic, there are stipulations. Governor Gary Herbert of Utah, signed the law into effect even though he did admit it to be,”a little bit gruesome.”

The law states that a firing squad can only be used as a backup method if there isn’t any access to lethal injection drugs. The state of Utah is a capital punishment state, and they need a back up method in case there is a shortage of the drugs.

Governor Herbert’s spokesman states that they are not ever keen on executing someone, and when it must happen, they do prefer using the lethal injection.

“We regret anyone ever commits the heinous crime of aggravated murder to merit the death penalty, and we prefer to use our primary method of lethal injection when such a sentence is issued,”

There are many people who are balking at the approval of firing squad. However, there are other states that have alternatives set in place. For instance, the state of New Hampshire uses the method of hanging as its backup method to lethal injection. And the state of Oklahoma uses the firing squad as a backup method to lethal injection already.

The state of Utah had, prior to 2004, given inmates the choice to be given a lethal injection or death by firing squad. Any person who was was to face the death penalty was given the choice of which way they would prefer to be put to death, if they were convicted before 2004. The last person who was executed by firing squad was Ronnie Lee Gardner in 2010.

Of course, this change does not come without controversy. Many opponents to the use of a firing squad are calling it barbaric. Randy Gardner, who is Gardner’s brother, is opposed to the method of a firing squad and states that he is still outraged over his brother’s death. Gardner also feels that it portrays Utah poorly.

“My God, we’re the only ones that are shooting people in the heart,”

Another opponent of the backup method of a firing squad is Ralph Dellapiana of the group, Utahns for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. Dellapiana echoes the same sentiments as Gardner. He feels that the approval of the firing squad is an oxymoron, since the state is pro-life.

“It’s an embarrassment to Utah, we should be taking the moral lead on this. You can’ be both pro-life and pro-death.”

This particular move comes, since many pharmaceutical companies are not selling the lethal combination to state correctional facilities. Presently, death row inmates have the option to be put to death by firing squad, but they must make their request known.

The next inmate to face execution is Doug Carter, he has chosen lethal injection. Though if the state is not able to acquire the medication, he will face the newly approved law and face a firing squad.

[Image Credit AP Photo/Trent Nelson]