Republican Utah Gov. Gary Herbert might sign a proposal that would make it legal to use firing squads during executions -- but only if state cannot obtain the legal drugs for lethal injections, he said during a press conference Thursday, NBC News wrote. The governor prefers lethal injection to bullets, but may sign the proposal because he wants to make sure Utah can follow through with capital punishment deaths.
"I'm leaning toward signing it," Herbert said, a week after State lawmakers approved the bill. "The debate is really more than just the firing squad. It's should we have capital punishment or not?"
Utah is the most recent state to look for a different method of carrying out the death penalty. "It's not our preference, but we need to have a fallback," he said. There’s been a shortage of supplies since foreign manufacturers, who create the drugs, oppose executions, ABC News said.
Inmates on death row can choose if they want to stand in front of the firing squad, for now. If the bill passed, the death row prisoners would be forced to face the squad against their wishes if Utah does not obtain the drugs 30 days before an execution is scheduled.
Herbert made sure to note he doesn’t think Utah will have to rely on the firing squad, because he believes the state will be able to find the proper chemicals, ABC News noted. The governor has until April 1 to sign the proposal and it’s unclear if he will go through with it.
Republican Rep. Paul Ray, who is in favor of using the firing squad, argued it is more human to kill someone with a bullet than with chemicals, ABC News reported. He cited a botched Oklahoma execution in 2014. Witnesses described a bloody scene after the drug seethed into the inmate’s body instead of through his veins. When the paramedic was unable to find a viable vein, he even suggested one in his legs, transcripts said. Ray claimed trained shooters would be a more human way to go.
While Herbert might be contemplating it, thousand of Utah residents opposed the measure, KNPR-FM, Nevada Public Radio wrote. A petition was created on MoveOn.org that 6,361 people have signed. They have a goal of 7,500 signatures. “Execution in itself is morally wrong, and to partner it with the use of a firing squad is inexcusable. There may be a shortage of lethal injections, but a firing squad should not be the answer to this problem,” the petition reads.
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