“Prior to becoming a state, the Territory of Utah introduced beheading in 1851 as a third option of execution,” wikipedia.org informs. “No prisoner chose this method and it fell out of practice in 1888.” Which left hanging and death by firing squad as the condemned prisoner’s options. In January 1977, a Bee Hive State firing squad famously removed Gary Gilmore from the land of the living, ending a nine-year national moratorium on capital punishment. In 2004, after two more inmates met their maker via ballistic intervention, Utah eliminated the firing squad in favor of lethal injection. stgeorgeutah.com explains why Utah legislators want to go back to the firing squad, or at least pre-authorize it should it be needed . . .
The bill’s author, Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, said it would enable the state to use a firing squad as an alternative to lethal injection if the drug cocktail needed for an execution is not available 30 or more days prior to the date specified on a death warrant.
The drug cocktail needed for lethal injection has come into short supply as the European drug companies that previously sold the drugs to states now refuse to as an objection to capital punishment.
Ray said some other states have resorted to mixing their own drug cocktails that have resulted in botched executions. In one instance it took a prisoner over an hour to die after being injected with the state-mixed injection.
Under current state law, if lethal injection were eventually declared unconstitutional, the firing squad would be reinstated as the state’s primary means of execution.
foxnews.com reports that the Utah House of Representatives passed the bill along party lines by a margin of 39 to 34. Last Thursday, the Wyoming House of Representatives passed a similar bill, legalizing firing squads as a fallback method – after they added an amendment requiring prison staff to render death row inmates unconscious before being shot.
Question: would you participate in a firing squad if asked by the state?