Firing squad bill passes committee

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SALT LAKE CITY -- In 2010, convicted killer Ronnie Lee Gardner was executed by a firing squad at the Draper State Prison.

Monday, Randy Gardner publicly condemned the practice that killed his brother.

“I got a chance to look at my brother’s chest after he was shot, and I could have stuck all four fingers right in his chest. I have no idea what his back looked like,” said Randy Gardner. “I’m sure it blew his heart out his back. To me, that is totally cruel and unusual punishment.”

He was one of several who spoke out against a proposal that would bring back Utah’s firing squad, which was outlawed in 2004.

“If we really want to look at the most humane, the fastest way to execute somebody is either a hanging or the firing squad,” said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield.

Under the proposal, the firing squad would only be used as an alternative method when the lethal injection “cocktail” is unavailable.

While the plan had no trouble passing a Senate committee 4-1, it stirred an even broader debate. The committee voted to ask an interim committee to review Utah’s death penalty policy this summer.

“Every time you open code on any topic, it’s an opportunity to discuss the policy that we currently have in place. The excuse that, ‘Oh, we’re not addressing that right now, we’re just addressing the method,’ doesn’t mean that it makes it right,” said Sen. Luz Escamilla, D-Salt Lake City.

Ray’s bill now heads to the full Senate for further debate.


  • bob

    What you described, Randy, is one of the quickest and surest ways to execute someone. It’s not “cruel”, unless you count the janitor who has to clean up afterward. And it wouldn’t be “unusual” if we did it every time someone was convicted of murder.


    To Randy Gardner: Our sympathies were with the killer’s victims and not with the animal who took their lives.

  • jim

    Charles Manson is still in prison here in California, every so often you seehis wrinkled but getting turned down for parole yet again . you don’t teach people that murder is wrong by having state-sponsored murder! Besides, have you ever heard the saying, killing is. too good for them? lock him up for 40 50 years! All truly civilized nations and states have stopped government sponsored murder. Michigan, was the first English speaking peoples government, to outlaw the death penalty. it may satisfy some biblical need for revenge, that seems to be common with residents of this state… Where it is, behind the times, even trying to post a comment on the site, is reminiscent of 10 years ago.


      It isn’t the state’s responsibility to teach people that murder is wrong. That’s what children have mothers for. Meantime Charles Manson’s fiancée, 27-year-old Afton Elaine Burton, wanted to marry him. The term “murder” only emphasizes the ignorance of the poor soul trying to use it.

      The word, Jim, is justifiable homicide. But then you kinda knew that ….. right?

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