Utah Gov. Gary Herbert has signed a law authorizing the use of firing squads to carry out death penalty sentences if officials cannot acquire lethal injection drugs, making the state the only one in America to approve of the method.
“Those who voiced opposition to this bill are primarily arguing against capital punishment in general and that decision has already been made in our state,” said Marty Carpenter, spokesman for Herbert, as quoted by the Guardian.
“We regret anyone ever commits the heinous crime of aggravated murder to merit the death penalty and we prefer to use our primary method of lethal injection when such a sentence is issued. However, when a jury makes the decision and a judge signs a death warrant, enforcing that lawful decision is the obligation of the executive branch.”
Although Utah is not expected to execute another inmate for years, capital punishment opponents have railed against the measure.
“It’s an embarrassment to Utah,” Ralph Dellapiana of the group Utahans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty said to the Associated Press. “We should be taking the moral lead on this. You can’ be both pro-life and pro-death.”
Last week, Herbert said he was “leaning toward” signing the bill so that the state could have a viable alternative to lethal injection when the appropriate drugs are not available. He has also called the use of a firing squad “a little bit gruesome, “though that did not keep him from signing the bill.
“The debate is really more than just the firing squad. It’s should we have capital punishment or not?” he said at the time, according to NBC News. “It’s not our preference, but we need to have a fallback.”
The move comes as multiple states seek alternative methods for carrying out death penalty sentences, as many companies refuse to sell various drugs used in lethal injection combinations to state correctional departments.
Currently, death row inmates in Utah can be executed by way of a firing squad, but they must choose the option themselves. Now, the state will be able to employ a firing squad regardless of the prisoner’s choice.
The last prisoner to be executed by firing squad in the state was Ronnie Lee Gardner in 2010.
While Utah may be the only state condoning the use of this method, other states are also looking into different means of execution. Last year, Tennessee became the first state in the US to authorize death via electric chair in the absence of lethal injection drugs, though the law faces a legal challenge from inmates who argue the method is unconstitutional.
Meanwhile, lawmakers in Oklahoma are considering a bill that would allow gas chambers to be used in executions. The Supreme Court is currently reviewing the state’s lethal injection formula to determine whether it violates the Eighth Amendment’s protection against cruel and unusual punishment, since the state had a number of botched executions.
My editorial comment on this issue is a simple one if you have committed a horrible act of violence against a person take the popular case of Jodi Arias as an example of a person that has admitted to killing the person so there is no doubt that this person committed the murder of another human, then take into account her lack of remorse, the way she defamed him, and using her as an example I think she would be a perfect candidate for execution by a firing squad. I know that many people want a person to be executed “humanly” but in my example with Jodi Arias her victim was killed in a horrific manner. He was stabbed 29 times, his throat was then slit from ear to ear and sawed down to the bone nearly decapitating his head with a kitchen knife, then shooting him in the head so given what she did why would anyone think that a firing squad, the electric chair, a gas chamber, or lethal injection to not be humane. I think that if our society went back to using the electric chair or as I like to call it old sparky then crime would drop big time especially if you knew that you wouldn’t be able to keep appealing and making motions to the court to postpone your death sentence for so many decades that you die of natural causes on death row. In the case of a person like Jodi Arias I am all for taking her out back of the court house and shooting her immediately. She admitted to doing this heinous crime so there is no doubt she did it so she needs to be punished and if the drug companies do not like the idea of their drug being used for lethal injection then I say good for Utah for making the decision to continue to impose the death penalty instead of saying oh well we can no longer put people to death. A murderer that has been proven to be the killer beyond a reasonable doubt should be executed ASAP not decades later. You took a life and now it is time for yours to end as well, again this is just my opinion but I feel that it is what most people believe if they really think about it.