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Firing squad bill passes the Senate, heads to governor for signature

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Firing squad at the Utah State Prison.

Firing squad at the Utah State Prison.

SALT LAKE CITY — The Senate passed a bill that would bring back the firing squad in Utah as a method of execution.

In an 18-10 vote, the Senate approved House Bill 11, sponsored by Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, which would bring the firing squad back as a backup method of execution, should the primary method of lethal injection be unavailable.

MORE: 3 inmates in Utah say they want to die by firing squad

The bill now goes to Gov. Gary Herbert for his signature or veto.  In a statement to FOX 13, the governor’s office said:

“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 firing squad has been highly controversial in the Utah State Legislature. After it passed out of the Senate, lawmakers agreed to study whether or not to continue to have capital punishment in Utah.

According to the Death Penalty Information Center, Utah and Oklahoma are the only states with firing squad as a method of execution.

18 comments

  • Zee New Doctere

    Should read: “Utah moves closer to using firing squads for executions again..hopes that no one notices that beheading is more humane than ripping apart a person’s chest with metal shrapnel and asks is Utal more barbaric than ISIS or ISL or ..oh never-mind it’s a power-play to try to get their drug supply back…and for those that say they deserve to die ok…why not make every crime the death penalty..great deterrent..I mean you knew you could die for speeding, you just happened to do it in an enforcement zone..yeahhh let’s do this! (Sarcasm)

    • ANOTHERBOB

      I support execution for cold blooded killers and oppose the death penalty for innocent unborn children. The liberals among us get it backwards.

      • ANOTHERBOB

        PHILBERT – I suppose you would suggest a slap on the wrist for the man who rapes a child and then kills her to prevent her from telling on him. Decent society has no problem sending cold blooded killers home early to meet their Maker. By the way son, the US Supreme Court has no problem with the death penalty ….. or didn’t you know that?

      • Pd65

        If you could identify “cold blooded killers” with 100% accuracy and not make any mistakes, I would be more inclined to agree with you about the death penalty. If you knew the scientific definition for a living organism, I would be more inclined to agree with you about “innocent unborn children.” However, since you cannot, do not, and/or choose not to, there’s no hope for having a rational discussion.

      • ANOTHERBOB

        @PD65 – Ted Bundy confessed to being a serial killer and helped police locate the bodies of some of his victims before he was executed in Florida. I rest my case.

  • Rick Brohmer

    No controversy with firing squad. 13 shooters with 12 having real rounds and one with a blank. The convicted will stand or be seated his/her choice, blind folded and shot in the heart. Very effective and quite humane!

    • John Richardson

      If execution via gunshot is the right thing to do, why do we need a firing squad? Why not just one guy? Or are people actually ashamed of this method of execution?

      • lk

        Remember who committed the crime! Some people have a problem with shooting others. We can take your principle much further; why lock inmates up in prison? it’s inhumane and people will feel bad about it!

    • Philbert

      Because being convicted of a crime does not mean you no longer have any rights. You are under the extremely misguided impression that we have a fair justice system. We get things wrong. Prosecutors and the public want convictions at all costs. Mistakes happen frequently. If someone is in prison, the mistake can be fixed. In our modern society, we can do better and not kill people.

      • Polyperchion

        Actually, being convicted of a crime DOES revoke many of constitutional rights. Including the right to vote, right to bear arms, etc. A serious enough crime can be interpreted as something that sacrifices the right to life and this goes back to the very drafters of the constitution itself.

      • ANOTHERBOB

        Actually being convicted of crime does place restrictions on your “rights”. The right to own a firearm is an example. And oh yes, PHILBERT, you even lose the right to decide when to take a shower whenever you want when your in prison. Are you really that immature?

  • Teresa Haglund

    Seriously! Americans are not barbarians. We should not be looking into the firing squad for death penalty. I feel for anyone who has to pull the trigger. This sounds like the quickest way to get rid of the death penalty. Those who supported the death penalty will be less likely to support it knowing that this is the method. I don’t understand why there is only one company that we can receive the lethal injection medication from. There are all kinds of medications in the US that given in to strong of a dose will lead to death. Why not use another medication? Why turn to the firing squad as a backup alternative? I don’t see this as a good alternative.

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