Utah brings back firing squads: 5 things to know about the firing squad

The governor of Utah signed off on a bill permitting the use of firing squad in executions

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The Independent US

Firing squad may seem like an antiquated method of execution, but such methods are making a comeback in the US, as states are struggling to obtain the drugs needed to perform lethal injections.

Utah Governor Gary Herbert on Monday signed a bill that permitted the firing squad to be the state’s second-choice method of execution, in the event the state runs out of lethal injection drugs. Other states have the firing squad as a last-resort, available only if lethal injections or other methods of executions are ruled unconstitutional. But Utah is the first state to reinstate the firing squad without the legal requirements, The Verge reported.

Since Utah exhausting its supply of lethal-injection drugs is a legitimate possibility, the state may have to turn to the firing squad at some point soon. Here are five things to know about Utah’s firing squad:

• The last person in the US executed by the firing squad was killed in Utah. Ronnie Lee Gardner was executed by firing squad on 18 June, 2010.

• The prisoner is seated in a chair with a target pinned over his or her heart, the Associated Press reported. Five randomly selected police officers – from a pool of volunteers – point .30-calibre rifles at the target.

• The firing squad aims for the heart instead of the head because it offers a bigger target and typically results in a quicker death.

The AP reported that one of the rifles is loaded with a blank round, so the identity of the officer who kills the prisoner remains anonymous.

• Two death row inmates soon could face the firing squad in Utah. Ron Lafferty, convicted of killing his sister-in-law and her baby in 1984, chose the firing squad when Utah still allowed inmates to choose. That state stopped allowing them to choose in 2004. Another inmate, Doug Carter, chose lethal injection, but could get the firing squad if the state runs out of drugs.


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