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Current Events & Hot Topics Current Events & Hot Topics

Utah lawmaker: Bring back firing squad executions.

Posted by on May. 18, 2014 at 6:03 PM
  • 106 Replies


Quote:

Utah lawmaker: Bring back firing squad executions

Associated Press 
By MICHELLE L. PRICE18 hours ago 
FILE - Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, is seen as he makes remarks during a news conference in this March 6, 20013 file photo, at the Utah State Capitol, in Salt Lake City. In the wake of a botched lethal injection in Oklahoma last month, Ray says he believes a firing squad is a more humane form of execution. And he plans to bring back that option for criminals sentenced to death in his state. He plans to introduce his proposal during Utah’s next legislative session in January. (AP Photo/Michelle Price, File)
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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — In the wake of a botched lethal injection in Oklahoma last month, a Utah lawmaker says he believes a firing squad is a more humane form of execution. And he plans to bring back that option for criminals sentenced to death in his state.

Rep. Paul Ray, a Republican from the northern Utah city of Clearfield, plans to introduce his proposal during Utah's next legislative session in January. Lawmakers in Wyoming and Missouri floated similar ideas this year, but both efforts stalled. Ray, however, may succeed. Utah already has a tradition of execution by firing squad, with five police officers using .30-caliber Winchester rifles to execute Ronnie Lee Gardner in 2010, the last execution by rifle to be held in the state.

Ray argues the controversial method may seem more palatable now, especially as states struggle to maneuver lawsuits and drug shortages that have complicated lethal injections.

"It sounds like the Wild West, but it's probably the most humane way to kill somebody," Ray said.

Utah eliminated execution by firing squad in 2004, citing the excessive media attention it gave inmates. But those sentenced to death before that date still had the option of choosing it, which is how Gardner ended up standing in front of five armed Utah police officers. Gardner was sentenced to death for fatally shooting a Salt Lake City attorney in 1985 while trying to escape from a courthouse.

He was third person to die by firing squad after the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. A couple other death row inmates have opted to die by gunfire instead of lethal injection in Utah, but they are all several years away from exhausting the appeals of their death sentences, Assistant Utah Attorney General Thomas Brunker said. Ray's proposal would give all inmates the option.

Lethal injection, the default method of execution in the U.S., has received heightened scrutiny after secrecy and drug shortages in recent years and the April incident in Oklahoma, when inmate Clayton Lockett's vein collapsed and he died of a heart attack more than 40 minutes later.

Ray and lawmakers in other states have suggested firing squads might be the cheapest and most humane method.

"The prisoner dies instantly," Ray said. "It sounds draconian. It sounds really bad, but the minute the bullet hits your heart, you're dead. There's no suffering."

Opponents of the proposal say firing squads are not necessarily a fool-proof answer.

It's possible an inmate could move or shooters could miss, causing the inmate a slow and painful death, said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Washington, D.C.,-based Death Penalty Information Center, which opposes capital punishment.

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

He cited a case from Utah's territorial days in 1897, when a firing squad missed Wallace Wilkerson's heart and it took him 27 minutes to die, according to newspaper accounts of the execution.

Dieter said that if Utah brought back firing squads as a default option rather than leaving it up to inmates to choose, as was the practice before 2004, it could be challenged in court.

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the use of the firing squad in 1879, but as tastes have changed in the country since then, Dieter said it's possible a modern court could rule the practice violates an inmate's protection from cruel and unusual punishment.

Beyond the legal challenges, Dieter said it will probably bring back the kind of "voyeuristic attention" the state wanted to avoid.

For Ray, the option makes sense to avoid a situation like Oklahoma or legal fights over the blend of drugs used in lethal injections.

"There's no easy way to put somebody to death, but you need to be efficient and effective about it," Ray said. "This is certainly one way to do that."

This makes my stomach turn.

by on May. 18, 2014 at 6:03 PM
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Replies (1-10):
purpleducky
by Silver Member on May. 18, 2014 at 6:06 PM
1 mom liked this

Can we bring back hangings too?

VinVanMom
by Bronze Member on May. 18, 2014 at 6:10 PM
2 moms liked this
Id rather be shot than the other methods.
ashellbell
by shellbark on May. 18, 2014 at 6:19 PM
3 moms liked this
I can't imagine the toll that would take on the men firing at a tied up individual. I find nothing humane about this.
ashellbell
by shellbark on May. 18, 2014 at 6:20 PM
5 moms liked this
How about the guillotine? That's always fun.

Quoting purpleducky:

Can we bring back hangings too?

cjsbmom
by Lois Lane on May. 18, 2014 at 6:21 PM

I believe he had proposed that as well. I heard a story on the news about this a week ago, and I believe he said firing squads and hangings. 

Quoting purpleducky:

Can we bring back hangings too?


cjsbmom
by Lois Lane on May. 18, 2014 at 6:22 PM

I get what you're saying, but it surely is just as hard on the men or women who are administering lethal injections to a person strapped down on a table. That is definitely not a job I'd want. 

Quoting ashellbell: I can't imagine the toll that would take on the men firing at a tied up individual. I find nothing humane about this.


FromAtoZ
by AllieCat on May. 18, 2014 at 6:22 PM


Quoting cjsbmom:

I believe he had proposed that as well. I heard a story on the news about this a week ago, and I believe he said firing squads and hangings. 

Quoting purpleducky:

Can we bring back hangings too?

Disgusting.

Of course, he will continue to claim he is only being humane.

The DP is anything but.

Donna6503
by Platinum Member on May. 18, 2014 at 6:27 PM
Let's thank God for blood atonement.
ashellbell
by shellbark on May. 18, 2014 at 6:40 PM
Oh, most definitely. Executions have to take a toll on those carrying it out no matter what method is used. I guess with lethal injection it seems a bit more "humane" and you can view them just "go to sleep". It still has to have an effect mentally though. Firing squad is just so violent and I can only imagine how it goes against every instinct we have to fire a deadly weapon at a tied up man. At least I hope it does lol.

Quoting cjsbmom:

I get what you're saying, but it surely is just as hard on the men or women who are administering lethal injections to a person strapped down on a table. That is definitely not a job I'd want. 

Quoting ashellbell: I can't imagine the toll that would take on the men firing at a tied up individual. I find nothing humane about this.

LauraKW
by "Dude!" on May. 18, 2014 at 7:13 PM
Agree. We treat people humanely up to and including execution for our benefit, not theirs.

Quoting ashellbell: I can't imagine the toll that would take on the men firing at a tied up individual. I find nothing humane about this.
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