Utah Republican Suggests Bringing Back Firing Squad

Christine Rousselle

5/17/2014 4:30:00 PM - Christine Rousselle

Rep. Paul Ray, a Republican serving in the Utah House of Representatives, wants to bring back the firing squad as an execution method in the state of Utah. Ray's proposal comes in light of the recent controversies surrounding lethal injection as an execution technique.

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.

Inmates sentenced to death row in Utah could opt for the firing squad until 2004, although Utah executed an inmate, Ronnie Lee Gardner, in this manner in 2010. Gardner was sentenced to death and chose to be executed via firing squad prior to 2004, and thus was grandfathered in. Utah eliminated the firing squad as an option due to "excessive media attention" given to the inmates.

I think that this is worth looking in to--if suffering can be avoided, it makes sense to pursue that route. The firing squad is relatively quick, and with modern rifles, almost guaranteed to be an instant death rather than a slow, drawn-out process.

I think Rep. Ray said it best:

"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."