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Governor signs law making Utah only state with firing squad

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Journalists view the chair in which Gary Gilmore was executed by firing squad in Utah State Prison in 1977. Gilmore chose firing squad over hanging, and his decision was highly publicized at the time. (Photo: KUER.org)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah’s governor signed a bill into law Monday that makes his state the only one to allow firing squads for carrying out executions if no lethal injection drugs are available.

Gov. Gary Herbert has said he finds the method “a little bit gruesome,” but that it gives the state a fallback execution method.

The measure’s approval illustrates the frustration of some states over bungled executions and shortages of lethal-injection drugs. Utah is one of several seeking new forms of capital punishment after a botched Oklahoma lethal injection last year.

The bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Paul Ray of Clearfield, touted the firing squad as a more humane form of execution.

Opponents say it’s barbaric and makes the state look bad.

Before lethal injections, convicts on death row in Utah could choose either firing squad or hanging. In 2004, the legislature passed a law that removed the right of the condemned to choose the method of execution and left lethal injection as the only remaining option in the state.

 

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