A Republican state lawmaker in Utah wants to bring back the firing squad as an option for the state’s death row criminals.
The legislator, Paul Ray, calls death by firing squad a more compassionate mode of capital punishment, reports the Associated Press.
Ray, who represents the residential city of Clearfield in northern Utah, will propose his firing-squad bill in January when Utah’s next legislative session begins. It will give any convict marked for death the opportunity to die by multiple gunshot wounds.
State legislators in Missouri and Wyoming had an opportunity to bring back firing squads this year. Neither effort panned out. However, after Oklahoma managed to screw up the lethal injection of Clayton Lockett on April 29, problems with the execution of executions are once again a hot news topic. (RELATED: Reporters talk about the botched execution in Oklahoma on Tuesday)
Lockett’s vein collapsed during an attempt at lethal injection. A heart attack killed him over 40 minutes later.
In 1999, Lockett kidnapped, beat and twice shot 19-year-old Stephanie Neiman. He then commanded an accomplice to bury her while she was still breathing.
Utah is no stranger to execution by firing squad. As recently as 2010, five police officers executed Ronnie Lee Gardner using .30-caliber Winchester rifles.
Gardner said he sought death by firing squad because of his Mormon background. He was able to select it because of a a grandfather clause which allows any death-row convict in Utah to choose a firing squad if he (or she) was sentenced to death before the state abolished the practice in 2004.
In 1984, Gardner killed Melvyn John Otterstrom during a robbery. Later, on his way to a 1985 court hearing related to that murder, he fatally shot attorney Michael Burdell during an escape bid.
Rep. Ray contends that death by firing squad is a lot more civilized than death by lethal injection because it’s harder to mess up. He says it’s also far cheaper than obtaining an expensive lethal drug cocktail or buying and maintaining an expensive electric chair.
“It sounds like the Wild West, but it’s probably the most humane way to kill somebody,” Ray told the Associated Press.
“The prisoner dies instantly,” he added. “It sounds draconian. It sounds really bad, but the minute the bullet hits your heart, you’re dead. There’s no suffering.”
Death penalty opponents disagree with Ray.