Firing Squads Now Legal in Utah

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Illustration of a deserter being executed by a firing squad at the Federal Camp in Alexandria during the American civil war. (Photo by Kean Collection/Getty Images)
Photo: Kean Collection/2010 Getty Images

Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed legislation legalizing firing squads as an execution method on Monday. He has called the practice “a little bit gruesome,” but Utah and many other states have had trouble procuring the drugs necessary for lethal injection — which has led to several botched executions in recent years. Firing squads can go wrong, too, and have twice in Utah. In 1879, an inmate screamed, “Oh, my God! My God! They have missed,”and did not die for 27 minutes after being shot. One local newspaper, according to the Salt Lake Tribune, “sarcastically reminded the state that ‘the French guillotine never fails.’”