This U.S. State Is Bringing Back Execution By Firing Squad

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If Utah runs out of the drugs they use to execute prisoners by lethal injection, they want to make sure they have a backup plan. So, lawmakers voted yesterday to okay death by firing squad. If the Governor signs the bill, Utah will be the only state in the country to execute prisoners that way. There are currently nine men in Utah on death row. 

Republican Rep. Paul Ray, the bill’s sponsor, told the LA Times that the firing squad is not cruel: "The two reasons I chose it were, obviously, No. 1, that’s what we’ve done in the past, and secondly, out of all the other options, it is the most humane." 

Utah last executed a man via firing squad in 2010. Though the state officially banned shooting prisoners in favor of lethal injections in 2004, it allowed inmates sentenced before 2004 to die by their chosen method, which explains the 2010 execution. 

Yesterday's vote was in response to a growing shortage of lethal drugs in the United States, as the European companies who produce them refuse to sell them to states that will use them for executions. Several other states, including Texas, are facing a shortage of lethal drugs as well, and there has been a backlash in the wake of a few horribly botched executions, most notoriously the ones in Oklahoma and Arizona.

The difficulties with lethal-injection drugs of late have led to a host of calls for new execution methods, including firing squads and — you guessed it — the guillotine. Of course, plenty of people want the U.S. to stop killing prisoners, period.

The U.S. is among a handful of countries (including China, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Pakistan) to still regularly use the death penalty. So far, 18 U.S. states have banned the practice.
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