The firing squad could be coming back to Utah

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Lawmakers have given a preliminary nod to bringing back the firing squad as a method of execution in Utah.

Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, proposed the bill that would bring back the firing squad only in the event that lethal injection was not available. Ray told the Utah State Legislature's interim law enforcement and criminal justice committee that he was being proactive.

"It gives us some maneuverability," Ray told the committee.

Lethal injection has come under fire as a method of execution after botched executions.

"I don't know if you'd call them botched," Ray told the committee. "I wish we could have found a way to make it longer, not shorter on his death to be honest with you. These are heinous people."

Ray said the European company that makes lethal injection drugs has also refused to sell the cocktail because it is opposed to the death penalty.

Utah did away with the firing squad as a primary method of execution in 2003, but some death row inmates are grandfathered in. The last firing squad execution was Ronnie Lee Gardner in 2010.

MORE: At least 3 inmates in Utah want to die by firing squad

Some lawmakers on the committee were skeptical of the idea.

"What problem does this solve?" Rep. Mark Wheatley, D-Murray, asked.

"A long, drawn out legal battle," Ray replied.

Jean Hill of the Salt Lake Catholic Diocese spoke out in opposition of the bill, calling it inhumane. The Catholic Diocese said it is opposed to the death penalty.

"The state's role is not to take revenge on people," she told the committee. "The state's role is public safety."

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints takes no position on capital punishment.

The bill passed out of the interim committee on a 9-2 vote. It will now go on to the full Utah State Legislature for consideration.

In an interview with FOX 13, Ray acknowledged that if legal issues continue and lethal injection is found to be unconstitutional, the firing squad could become the primary method of execution in Utah.


  • Kelly

    In a lot of cases death penalty is very appropriate even in the Bible it says an eye for an eye these people just cannot change That is one reason why here in United States we have so many problems if this trash realized they could be put to death maybe we would not have so many problems

      • BOB

        A little 3-year old Pennsylvania toddler died after being tortured for three days by his mother and her boyfriend. They hung him upside down and beat him with an aluminum strip. Yes, the death penalty is appropriate under a specfic set of circumstances.

      • Trish Ramirez

        And a 4 year old visitor to the State of Utah was brutalized by his mom and quasi step-father for a week before being killed, his body being desecrated and burned and buried in a shallow grave and both the mother and her monster got with murder – they have the opportunity to be paroled.

        I fully agree with the death penalty being on the table, but man we need to work out the idea of justice in this nation. It should be equitable and far, far less subjective.

    • bob

      Kelly, do yourself and our cause a favor and stop appealing to the Law of Moses, which also requires stoning people to death for adultery and quarantining women who are on their period. (Among a long list of other requirements.)

      Have you sacrificed your goat today?

      The death penalty is justice. That does not require Biblical endorsement. So stop trying.

    • R2D2

      Kelly…I’m not sure if you’re aware of this…but this “trash” CAN be put to death here…and that’s actually NOT the case with most developed nations. Please…educate yourself.

  • bob

    The lengthy appeals process is completely artificial. There are NO grounds for appeal that cannot be compiled on the back of a napkin and handed to a judge within 1 calendar year. That’s the timeline I’d set: You have one year to spin whatever yarns you want to spin, put them in front of ONE appeals court all at once, and then they have one MONTH to rule.

    After that, you’re immediately switched off.

    As for “lack of available drugs”: Give me a break. A long list of drugs are available to render the condemned unconscious, then an injection of potassium chloride stops the heart with 100% certainty. It’s dirt cheap, too. It’s a fertilizer. A few dollars a TON. You could off every murderer for the next thousand years for five bucks.

    Why are we making this so complicated?

    • bob

      As for “cruel and unusual” It’s not unusual if we do it a lot. It’s not cruel unless it’s deliberately unpleasant. “Cruel” is a value judgment. If we make a reasonable effort to avoid suffering then it’s not cruel.

      Want to know what IS cruel? Lifetime incarceration in a prison. THAT is sick and wrong.

      Having said all that, I recognize the possibility of someone being wrongly convicted. It does happen. The liberals have so far failed to find the Holy Grail: A person executed who was later proven innocent. But it’ll happen eventually.

      I would raise the bar for death penalty cases: The death penalty applies only if a person can be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt based on either Eyewitness OR Circumstantial evidence, PLUS Forensic evidence. Currently, conviction only requires one of the three. Raise the bar a bit. If you can’t get there, but still can still convict based on at least ONE of the categories, then it’s Life in Prison.

  • Bonbob

    The death penalty differentiates the punishment as a deterant. Case in point: Armed robbery could get life in prison. Without the death penalt, leaving no witnesses could get life in prison. When Utah executed the motel robber in Privo who had then killed the witness, they differentiated the crimes. A bullet in the heart is a quick humane way to carry out the penalty.

  • Trish Ramirez

    Good, bullets are cheaper than lethal injection drugs, which are becoming harder and harder to come by as foreign drug manufacturers try to impose their brand of morality on American citizens convicted of the most heinous offenses imaginable and sentenced to death under the laws of this nation and their respective jurisdictions.

    Not to mention that a well placed shot does the job relatively quickly – as opposed to struggling for breath for 45 mins waiting for alternative execution drugs to do the job.

    Bring back the squad.

  • Brady

    Whatever is cheapest for tax payers and whatever the inamates want to die from. Why would we get rid of any way to die from the death penalty? These people obviously brought this on themselves. They know what’s coming to them. We shouldn’t even let these people sit so long in prison.

  • Ratt Mann

    Kudos to Ray for proposing a common sense solution. A firing squad is quick and effective. Arguably too good for some offenders but better than nothing. Had Ted Bundy been executed in a timely manner by the state of Colorado lives would have been saved.

  • James

    “I wish we could have found a way to make it longer, not shorter on his death to be honest with you. These are heinous people.”

    He sounds just as bloodthirsty as the “heinous people”. The only difference is he prefers to kill and torture behind the safety of law.

  • David H Abernathy (@rustman2)

    We must expose these liars and thieves, prosecute and incarcerate and also consider doing what UTAH is considering. It is time that these, always found unaccountable Bureaucrats (Republicans/Democrats/Spies-Pollard or another other Traitor) become accountable and pay dearly for there murder, deception and thievery! Treason deserves death!

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