Utah lawmaker wants to bring back execution by firing squad

Posted at 6:27 PM, May 17, 2014
and last updated 2014-05-19 10:01:00-04

The information in the report below is courtesy FOX News’ Bryan Llenas.

SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah Representative Paul Ray, R-District 13, wants to propose legislation in January to reinstate the firing squad in Utah.

Ray said he thinks it is the most humane way to carry out the death penalty in this country.

Ray’s push for renewing the firing squad comes in the wake of a botched lethal injection in Oklahoma last month. When convicted murderer Clayton Lockett's execution by lethal injection failed due to a blown vein, he died 43 minutes later of an apparent heart attack.

Ray and other Utah lawmakers believe death by firing squad is more humane and could prevent botched executions.

Ray told the Associated Press: "The prisoner dies instantly. It sounds draconian. It sounds really bad, but the minute the bullet hits your heart, you're dead. There's no suffering."

Ray elaborated on his position Sunday in an interview with FOX 13 News, saying he thinks the firing squad should be an option in case legal challenges to lethal injection arise. See the video below for Ray's comments as well as comments from those opposed to the death penalty.

Utah eliminated executing inmates by firing squad in 2004. The last execution coming in 2010, when Ronnie Lee Gardner was shot and killed by five police officers armed with .30 caliber Winchester rifles.

Proponents of the firing squad note lethal injections have been botched at a higher rate than any other method of execution. They also point to a 1993 British study, which ranked firing squads near lethal injections as the least painful.

But opponents said there is suffering with firing squads, noting it’s entirely possible an inmate could move or shooters could miss their target--causing a slow and painful death.

Author Austin Sarat said: "for proponents of capital punishment to bring back the lethal, the firing squad as a substitute for lethal injection I think is quite a step backward, and I think would be no favor for those who advocate the continuation of capital punishment in the United States."

Since 1976, three people, all in Utah, have been put to death by firing squad in the U.S.

Professor Sarat said he doesn't foresee firing squads making a comeback across the country, saying Americans by and large would see it as indecent.