Lawmakers move toward bringing back the firing squad in Utah
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (KSTU) — State 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 a botched execution in Oklahoma. 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. Some death row inmates are grandfathered in. The last firing squad execution was Ronnie Lee Gardner in 2010.
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 state’s role is to not take revenge on people,” she told the committee. “The state’s role is public safety.”
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.