Utah Lawmaker Wants to Bring Back Firing Squads

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Photo: Michelle Price

In light of the horrific botched lethal injection of convicted rapist and murderer Clayton Lockett, who died of a massive heart attack almost 45 minutes after the drugs entered his body, Utah state Representative Paul Ray has decided that the United States needs more options when it comes to killing its prisoners. The AP reports that, when the state's next legislative session begins, Ray plans to propose that Utah reinstate death by firing squad as an option for people sentenced to death. "It sounds draconian. It sounds really bad, but the minute the bullet hits your heart, you're dead. There's no suffering," he explained. "It sounds like the Wild West, but it's probably the most humane way to kill somebody."

Richard Dieter of the anticapital punishment Death Penalty Information Center, argued that firing squad's aren't always as fast and easy as Ray seems to think. "The idea is that it would be very quick and accurate but just a little movement by the person could change that," he said, noting that shooter's can miss their targets. "Things can go wrong with any method of execution."

Though lawmakers in Wyoming and Missouri have recently floated similar proposals without much success, Ray might have a better chance of succeeding because Utah's Wild West days actually ended pretty recently — the state's last firing squad execution took place in 2010, thanks to Ronnie Lee Gardner, who chose to die that way before the practice was stopped in 2004. Utah cited "the excessive media attention [firing squads] gave inmates" as a reason for banning the practice, but perhaps Ray can argue that the media attention directed at Oklahoma after Lockett's death was much worse.