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Friday, April 23, 2010

Should firing squads be allowed?

Utah_shoot

In Utah, a convicted killer named Ronnie Lee Gardner has requested that a firing squad execute him. Firing squads are only allowed -- theoretically -- in Utah and Oklahoma. In Oklahoma, lethal injection is the default, and a firing squad would only be used if the needle were made unconstitutional.

Utah has executed two inmates by firing squad since the 1970s. For more inmates, it's not an option -- only those sentenced to death before 2004, when the legislature made lethal injection their go-to method. It's mostly a PR move, the AP says -- a lot of people argued the method was brutal. That, legislators were worried that fretting about the means of execution stole focus from the victims. About four guys on Utah's Death Row would like to be shot to death, please.

Gardner is one of the "lucky" ones. He killed an attorney, Michael J. Burdell, during a shootout and botched escape attempt back in the 1980s. 

More than a few commenters have suggested "bringing back the firing squad," but as execution methods go, it's fairly rare -- or has been since the Civil War, anyway. It's sort of iffy; some executees survive the initial shot, which some people have argued is unnecessarily cruel. Supporters note that firing squads are the only method of execution that allows for organ donation of the deceased.

Photos via AP. The bottom image is a file image from the last Utah firing-squad execution -- that's what the condemned man was strapped into.

Squad

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