Should Utah Bring Back Firing Squads?

A Utah legislative committee voted 9-2 Wednesday to endorse a bill that would make firing squads the main method for executing criminals if the drugs needed for lethal injection were not available to the state.

Currently those drugs are not available in the U.S.

“The European company that makes this [drug cocktail] is refusing to sell to the United States because they’re opposed to the death penalty,” explained Rep. Paul Ray (R-Clearfield), a member of the Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Interim Committee, who voted to forward the bill.

Rep. Ray add that firing squads are “absolutely one of the most humane ways to execute someone because it’s so quick and, quite honestly, one of the most painless ways.”

“I’m sure there’s some initial pain to it,” he continued, in his interview with The Salt Lake Tribune, “but you don’t see the struggling and the trying to breathe you see on any type of lethal injection. Even on the ones that are the lethal drug cocktail, you still see the gurgling and the fighting to breathe.”

Under the language of the bill, a court hearing would be held at least 30 days before the execution at which time a judge would evaluate whether lethal injection drugs are available. Should they not be available, the criminal would be executed at the hands of a firing squad.

Of the two committee members who opposed the endorsement Rep. Mark Wheatley (D-Salt Lake) and Rep. Marc Roberts (R-Santaquin), one said it wouldn’t solve the problem.

“I don’t see where this bill is needed,” said Rep. Wheatley. “We’re not correcting any problem. … It’s not solving anything.”

Convicted murderer Ronnie Lee Gardner was the last individual executed by a firing squad in the U.S. He was fatally shot on June 18, 2010. Gardner was a Utah resident who had been on death row since 1985. In 2004, the Legislature changed the law to make lethal injection the primary means of execution but since Gardner was grandfathered in to the previous statute, which allowed condemned criminals to choose their method of execution, he was allowed to go out before a firing squad.

With all that said, what are your thoughts? Should Utah bring back the firing squad as the primary means of execution?

About the author: S.H. Blannelberry is the News Editor of GunsAmerica.

{ 21 comments… add one }
  • Dr Dave February 11, 2018, 3:32 am

    I live in Utah and applaud the common sense approach to the death penalty. In other states executions have been put off due to the fact the drugs are considered not safe or outdated or unavailable . In this case the person who has been convicted by a jury of his or hers peers and is sentenced to death will not be held up for lack of supplies. This will end the families of victims for having to relive the tragedy over and over due to postponing the execution dates over and over. Lets think of the victims and their families instead of the criminal who is convicted and sentenced to death

  • Jonny5 July 3, 2017, 8:19 pm

    What would the Lord Jesus do? I think he would make him dig his own grave, kneel beside it and then discharge a 9mm round into the back of the criminal’s head. Then push the body in.

  • cplb January 1, 2015, 4:54 am

    Utah and every other state. When the guilty are punished correctly there is less crime. When punishment is not handed out that is when crime rates soar because folks don’t care if they get caught.

  • Joe McHugh November 26, 2014, 3:22 pm

    Each state must decide on the appropriate punishment for the very worst of the worse criminals. Some would say that life in prison without parole is inhuman treatment. Others would say that the most graphic, public executions would serve to educate the people about crime and punishment. The liberals might say that if a public execution serves to save one innocent life in the future, it is worth doing. (I love to pillory liberals with their own obtuse sayings.)
    I would suggest two forms of execution for those criminals who need a little bit of killing.
    The first method is the perfect killing machine, the Guillotine. It kills the instant the spinal column is severed. On the downside, the Guillotine needs to be located near a sewer drain for a place to flush the blood away.
    The second method is even faster, (no delay while the Guillotine blade is falling). The condemned is secured to a chair with a low backrest. A shotgun is affixed to a strong cradle in such a way that the axis of the barrel aligns with a shot line that enters the base of the back neck and travels through the skull exiting at the forehead. The condemned would experience no pain because the brain would not be there to experience it. In effect the poor wretch would be, and then not be, in milliseconds.
    Again the downside would be the cleanup. I’m thinking that a fire hose would do nicely.
    In both of these execution methods, the condemned would be mercifully killed and their TV broad-casted executions could be used as a teaching visual for other would-be criminals. If some still failed to learn, they would finally learn what the guest of honor experiences at an execution. A very short lesson, indeed.
    The only question that remained would be whether the Europeans would regret embargoing lethal drugs to America. The killers know something that is lost on the Europeans, namely how easy it is to extinguish human life.

  • Claude Duncan November 24, 2014, 11:08 am

    When a dog hurts a child or any-other human being the dog is immediately put down, Why does this take 20 years when a scumbag does the same thing. If this scumbag has done this without any doubt give them the same punishment as the dog within a couple of days and in public As the Good Book had said send these scumbags to me and these rapes, murders, abusers of fellow man, these things will cease to happen. Yes the firing squad is a good think and a easy way out for these scumbags. I am all for it

  • Petru Sova November 24, 2014, 10:43 am

    They should have absolutely no executions period. Almost all of the industrialized and civilized world has long ago abolished capital punishment because now we are finding out how many people were and are executed that were perfectly innocent. The lasts example was two Cleveland, Ohio men that were falsely put on death row and just barley escaped execution and then spent 40 years in prison for a crime they did not commit. President Bush arrogantly stated that “We never make a mistake in executions” contrary to the fact that at the time he made the statement there were over 200 documented cases of innocent Americans that were executed and later found to be innocent. The blood thirsty Neanderthals also do not realize that executions end all suffering of the murder while a life in prison is a living death and punishment as stated many times by inmates themselves who wanted to be executed to escape the punishment of prison for life. They actually beat the system by being executed while satisfying the instant gratification of the “revenge crowd”. Some prisoners laughed all the way to the execution chamber knowing they beat the system because they were actually escaping years of punishment. Capital punishment has never prevented crime either as many individuals are so mentally ill that nothing would deter them from committing heinous acts. The law of course does not recognize this as it is designed to gratify blood lust revenge that does not punish criminals at all nor prevent crime nor make the people who are the victims of crime feel any better except in the very short run. In short Capital punishment is a total failure in all respects and a left over of previous savage blood thirsty and totally ignorant societies that do not understand metal illness and why such crimes take place and what motivated the criminal to commit such crimes which means that preventive measures are not instituted to prevent future crimes from taking place by working to change the societal failures which caused such people to become the monsters that they inevitably become.

    • Jo November 24, 2014, 3:19 pm

      You’re a fucking idiot

      • steve a. November 25, 2014, 12:10 am

        so you are in favor of continuing to kill large numbers of innocent people just to have revenge on the guilty ones? lets hope you never get falsely arrested for murder. as the other guy said, there are literally hundreds of people who have been falsely executed, and they continue to falsely execute innocent people every year. i’m not saying i think it is wrong to kill someone who commits some of these terrible acts, i’m saying we shouldn’t continue to use the death penalty if we are killing so many innocent people every year. how does that make someone an idiot?

      • Danny February 11, 2017, 12:54 am

        I could not have said better. Executions should be done within 2 weeks of being convicted.

      • Steve John-Osland June 27, 2017, 1:51 pm

        Wow, you sure told him. He’s probably changed his mind by now, to, with that argument. Anyway, I think I am for the firing squad OVER the lethal injection, considering the lethal injection horror stories that have been documented . It wasn’t made clear how many riflemen there would be, or are, in a squad. Is this one of those scenarios where half the rifles have “non-projectile” (sorry, English not my first language) so the squad soldiers don’t know if they are responsible for death. Where I was born, firing squad always the way. 7 / 3 Rule; 7 men, 4 standing, 3 at knee, 10 meter away (7+3 = 10) , hood over head, (no cigarette or last words; that is Hollywood, maybe?) the criminal wearing tunic with red circle wear heart is (should be, two or three times we told the heart was on wrong side of men, not the circle, the heart itself was on the right hand side – how strange is that?) . The criminal against special wall of stone that the bullets didn’t mark or , bounce, off. All the riflemen had real bullets. Criminal was tied to ring from wall behind back, and around shoulders and under arm shoulders so wouldn’t fall down. The shots were fired, always at 07.00HRS, death was instant, no nerves jumping. Bullets were 7.62mm. The body was cleaned while soldiers have breakfast. They would be given briefing meeting, to be told if anything went wrong, then the soldiers buried the body – this is to ensure the soldiers had completed everything in the mind. It isn’t right in a soldiers head to shoot an unarmed man, my brother tells me, who has hood over head. Many soldiers had bad life because of his duty, so a special doctor told the Ministry the soldiers had to bury the body – not just walk away. Killing someone, for any reason, sits on your chest when you try to sleep, it sits on your head, when you should be laughing, it has its hands down your throat, when you should be breathing

    • listen to this November 25, 2014, 11:45 pm

      Before you follow our scum bag politicians and be a ex-patroit by spreading lies you know nothing about maybe you should look at the crime rates in the south east Asia countries compared to the pitifull U.S. Thailand for example has far less crime than the U.S. however their laws are far more stringent. 1 year in the slamer for a joint, I would like to see what a scum bag drug dealer would get. Those 200 hundred innocent people you mentioned is nothing compared to the millions of the next generation being influenced by the spread of scum disease from the people who have it and that are repeated let back out into society. This all done in the name of future stealing of tax dollars. It cost 40,000 a year or more in some states to house 1 scum bag. Think of all the prisons, law enforcement, judicial personel, confiscated money that are being racked from the tax payer all in the name of scum disease. This is just another symptom of corrupt our government and our societies’ way of thinking, which even an idiot can figure out what is going to happen to the financial system due to all of the government wrecklessness. Yep I can honestly say many third world countries have a much more responsible justice system than we have and therefor don’t have the scum bags preying on the millions of innocent people in the U.S. So before dare say the death penalty does not lower crime you need to take a look at countries that have judicial system that actually prevents the spread of crime in the first place!!!

    • T. Staub November 18, 2016, 6:42 am

      A great post which summarizes the facts, as found in many, many studies. (Public) executions such as in Iran or Arabia are a just shame, they do not prevent crime…

    • tlb February 10, 2017, 12:53 pm

      You will think differently when it is you loved one that has been raped, murdered, etc…
      The only hope of stemming capitol crime in this country is to make example of the guilty for the would be’s to contemplate.
      They need to know that it will not be tolerated – period.

  • GeoKirk November 24, 2014, 10:41 am

    This is the most idiotic thing I have ever heard of. First off there are all types of drugs that will kill a human humanely, morphine or opium is just one such drug. But I also have no problem this shoot these scum bags.

  • Peppergun November 24, 2014, 9:37 am

    Yes they need to bring back the firing squad and the electric chair and make it visual for all to see. That way people doing these crimes can see what their heading for. This will bring an end to all or some of the crime in this world. And these people who oppose it shot them first.

    • W Carrell June 21, 2016, 11:38 am

      Firing squad should definitely be brought back for the most violent cases and proof reasonable doubt that they’re guilty.

  • Peppergun November 24, 2014, 9:36 am

    Yes they need to bring back the firing squad and the electric chair and make it visual for all to see. That way people doing these crimes can see what their heading for. This will bring an end to all or some of the crime in this world. And these people who oppose it shot them first.

  • Steve November 24, 2014, 9:35 am

    Let me digest this……a company makes an execution drug but does not believe in the death penalty? Say What?
    A firing squad is quick and humane. No need to feed or give them free medical care for 20 years, until someone makes up their mind to execute them.

  • mike November 24, 2014, 8:19 am

    Just another case of “WE CAN’T MAKE IT HERE” If we can’t make drugs we more likely invented, then use ammo we still make here! Executioners are volunteers I believe.

  • Casey Miller November 24, 2014, 4:36 am

    Firing squads are made of people. People don’t really like to kill other people. So making the execution more comfortable for the criminal by subjecting the men or women of the firing squad to firing bullets into other people seems like a step backward. I know that there are people that have to do the injections and or the gas thing and I’m sure that they don’t like having to do that job either. So, sans having people do the dirty deed, I guess a firing squad is perfectly acceptable. Somebody has to deliver the ultimate punishment for the ultimate crime. I kinda think that giving a robbery felon 5 years off for “offing” the scumbag in the prison yard would work too.

  • What I know November 21, 2014, 1:09 pm

    Watch for the flash!

    They need to make this public again!

    We would have a lot less crime!

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