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Opening Arguments

Bang, you're dead

Bring back the firing squad?

Rep. Paul Ray, a Republican serving in the Utah House of Representatives, wants to bring back the firing squad as an execution method in the state of Utah. Ray's proposal comes in light of the recent controversies surrounding lethal injection as an execution technique.

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Inmates sentenced to death row in Utah could opt for the firing squad until 2004, although Utah executed an inmate, Ronnie Lee Gardner, in this manner in 2010. Gardner was sentenced to death and chose to be executed via firing squad prior to 2004, and thus was grandfathered in. Utah eliminated the firing squad as an option due to "excessive media attention" given to the inmates.

I think that this is worth looking in to--if suffering can be avoided, it makes sense to pursue that route. The firing squad is relatively quick, and with modern rifles, almost guaranteed to be an instant death rather than a slow, drawn-out process.

Ray went on to say that there's no easy way to put somebody to death, but "you need to be effiicient and effective about it." That seems like something death penalty supporters and opponents could actually agree on. The most terrifying part of being executed, I should think, are those last few minutes that you know are going to be your last. How the execution is actually carried out is a minor part of the story. And a firing squad is a lot cleaner and quicker than the lethal-injection ritual.

But of course, the idea of  being stood up and shot is more frightening that the idea of taking a nap you never wake up from. So, while the firing squad might be more humane, it might actually have more of a deterrent effect. There you have the irony of the day.