Utah Is Now Poised To Revive The Firing Squad

Utah Firing Squad Bill

The firing squad is poised to make a comeback in the state of Utah as an alternative means of execution should lethal injection be unavailable.

The Senate approved the bill — House Bill 11, which is sponsored by Representative Paul Ray (R) — which now leaves the decision in the hands of Governor Gary Herbert, who will either approve the bill with a signature or shut it down with a veto.

The governor’s office issued a statement to Fox 13 which read:

As a general practice, Gov. Herbert does not commit to action on a bill until he has reviewed the final version that has passed both the House and the Senate. He is, however, willing to discuss the principles by which he evaluates legislation.”

In the state of Utah, aggravated murder is a crime punishable by death. This is a sentence that was determined to be appropriate for crimes where a life was taken in an especially heinous and aggravated manner and was enacted by our Legislature with the support of their constituents. Accordingly, in those cases, as a state, we ask a jury to make the difficult decision to impose the death sentence. When a jury makes that decision and a judge signs a warrant enforcing that lawful decision, we have an obligation to make sure the order can be carried out. Our statute is clear that lethal injection is the method by which that will happen. We have no intent to change that.”

Our Department of Corrections is conscientious and dedicated to making sure that they are able to carry out the order in that manner. However, our state, as is the case with states around the country, is finding it increasingly difficult to obtain the substances required to perform a lethal injection. We are dedicated to pursuing all reasonable and legal options to obtain those substances to make sure that, when required, we are in a position to carry out this very serious sentence by lethal injection. However, if those substances cannot be obtained, this proposal would make sure that those instructed to carry out the lawful order of the court and the carefully deliberated decision of the jury can do so.

The Washington Post reports that Utah is the only state within the last 40-years to carry out a death sentence by firing squad.

If Governor Herbert signs the measure sponsored by Rep. Paul Ray, it would make Utah the only state to allow executions by firing squad in the case of a drug shortage. As of present, there is a nationwide shortage on execution drugs making it difficult for states to secure their supplies.

Ray was quoted by The Associated Press as having said that the firing squad option was “a backup plan” in case the state is unable to procure lethal injection drugs. He’s also argued that a team of trained marksmen is a more humane method of execution as it’s faster, especially in comparison to botched lethal injections such as Joseph Wood III’s in which his execution lasted more than two hours.

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