Lawmakers vote to become only state to allow firing squad

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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah lawmakers have passed a bill that would make it the only state to allow firing squads for carrying out a death penalty if there is a shortage of execution drugs.

The state Senate voted 18-10 on Tuesday to reinstate the firing squad more than a decade after abandoning the practice in 2004. However, one person has been executed in Utah by firing squad since banning the method because it was not retroactive–people on death row before the new law still had the option to choose a firing squad as the method of execution.

It now goes to Gov. Gary Herbert, who hasn’t said if he’ll sign the measure.

The bill would require Utah to use a firing squad if lethal injection drugs are not on hand 30 days before an execution.

The measure’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Paul Ray, says the aim was to give Utah an option as states struggle to obtain lethal injection drugs amid a nationwide shortage.

Opponents say the firing squad is a cruel holdover from the state’s wild West days.