This U.S. State Is Bringing Back Firing Squads

Firing squads do sound cruel, but they also give the condemned a quick ending.

Utah passes bill to allow execution by firing squad for death-row prisoners

Utah is all set to bring back firing squad executions after its legislators passed a bill in the widely abandoned practice's favor.

Presented by Republican Rep. Paul Ray, the bill received state Senate approval with a vote of 18-10; now it's up to Gov. Gary Herbert to approve or reject it.

If it clears the final hurdle, Utah will become the only state to reinstate the execution practice that its critics consider inhumane. Utah politicians started considering the bill after a countrywide shortage of lethal injection drugs. In some recent capital punishment cases, the condemned took as long as two hours to die after lethal injection; the process is supposed to take minutes.

Lethal injection will remain the preferred method for executions, but if authorities can't acquire the required drugs 30 days prior to the execution, firing squads will be called upon in Utah, as the bill is written.

Vote for firing squad shows frustration with drug shortages

"We would love to get the lethal injection worked out so we can continue with that but if not, now we have a backup plan," Ray – the bill's instigator – told the Associated Press.

As expected, many are far from happy. Ralph Dellapiana, director of Utahns for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, branded firing squads "a relic of a more barbaric past," and predicted that the move will bring nothing but international shame to their state.

Lawmakers in both Wyoming and Arkansas have recently explored the option of turning to firing squads as their alternative method of capital punishments, but it seems Utah will beat them to it.