Utah and several other states are scrambling to modify their laws on the heels of a botched Oklahoma lethal injection last year and one in Arizona in which the condemned man took nearly two hours to die. Meanwhile, Texas executed a Mexican mafia hit man Wednesday evening with its second-to-last dosage of drugs.
States have struggled to keep up their drug inventories as European manufacturers opposed to capital punishment refuse to sell the components of lethal injections to U.S. prisons.
The Utah bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Paul Ray, argues that a team of trained marksmen is faster and more humane than the drawn-out deaths involved when lethal injections go awry.
The last execution by firing squad was in 2010, when Ronnie Lee Gardner was put to death by five police officers with .30-caliber Winchester rifles
Three more death-row inmates who have chosen a firing squad as their preferred method of death are expected to be executed once their appeal process has completed, providing the appeals are not successful. Prison authorities will choose the gunmen from a pool of volunteer officers, starting with those in the area where the crime happened, Ray said.
“We’ve always had a lot more volunteers than actually had spots,” he said.