Utah Schedules Firing Squad Execution for June

Ronnie Lee Gardner, his appeals exhausted after 25 years on daath row, has chosen the firing squad for his June 18 execution.

How is it carried out? From a TalkLeft post in 2003 quoting a news article no longer online:

....A hood will be put over the condemned man's head and a target will be pinned over his heart. The executioners will fire simultaneously from gun portals in a separate room at the inmate, seated in a chair about 30 feet away. One of the five rifles will contain a blank so that no one will know who fired the fatal shots.


How it started:

Utah's use of firing squads predates statehood in 1896 and is a remnant of the early Mormon belief that bloodshed is a required punishment for taking a life, said Richard Dieter, director of the Death Penalty Information Center.

A legislator in New Hampshire in 2009 introduced a bill to restore executions by firing squad.

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  • Display: Sort:
    we're such a civilized nation (nt) (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by ahazydelirium on Sat Apr 24, 2010 at 12:08:41 AM EST

    This is horrible! (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by mexboy on Sat Apr 24, 2010 at 05:41:50 AM EST
    I am stunned and have no words to describe how inhumane and barbaric this is.

    True, but then (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Zorba on Sat Apr 24, 2010 at 09:49:17 AM EST
    I believe that all executions are inhumane.  The United States "proudly" stands with such beacons of democracy and humane treatment of prisoners as Somalia, North Korea, Afghanistan, and the People's Republic of China in allowing the death penalty.  We need to join the 137 countries that have banned the death penalty.

    "137 coundtires" (none / 0) (#11)
    by diogenes on Sat Apr 24, 2010 at 10:51:23 AM EST
    137 countries ban gay marriage; since when is that an argument for what we should or should not do as a country?  

    Are you saying gays should be executed? (none / 0) (#22)
    by 1980Ford on Sat Apr 24, 2010 at 04:01:33 PM EST
    Just trying to understand your logical connection.

    Just think (none / 0) (#26)
    by jondee on Sat Apr 24, 2010 at 08:17:04 PM EST
    this shining city on a hill would be EVEN MORE violent if we didnt have that constant "deterrent" in place..Or so goes the crackbrained log

    logic.. (none / 0) (#27)
    by jondee on Sat Apr 24, 2010 at 08:17:37 PM EST
    Firing Squads Are For Wimps (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by john horse on Sat Apr 24, 2010 at 10:07:39 AM EST
    If we are going to practice human sacrifice, lets do it right.  Lets do it like the Aztecs did.

    We'll lay Gardner on a stone slab and slice him from his abdomen to his diaphragm. Then we grab his heart and tear it out, still beating. It would be placed in a bowl and the body thrown into a garbage bin.

    The death penalty is just another form of human sacrifice.

    I like that comparison John... (none / 0) (#9)
    by kdog on Sat Apr 24, 2010 at 10:22:16 AM EST
    instead of a sacrifice to a divine being(s) like ancient cultures, a sacrifice to our "divine law".  Authority is the new god.

    A "Humane" Death Penalty Is A Myth (none / 0) (#14)
    by john horse on Sat Apr 24, 2010 at 12:23:42 PM EST
    I believe that there is no such a thing as a "humane" death penalty, including lethal injection.      

    The human race and most of the civilized world has moved beyond a belief in the death penalty.  That is why it is no longer used in most democratic countries.  That is why commenters to this post have described it as "inhumane" and "barbaric".

    We don't do human sacrifice and there will come a day when we won't have capital punishment.



    nah ... (none / 0) (#16)
    by nyrias on Sat Apr 24, 2010 at 12:27:31 PM EST
    the need for vengeance is in our genes. Plus, the most populated soon-to-be developed country is firmly in the execute-the-criminals camp.

    I don't see it going away. We should just face the fact that civilization needs a little inhumane punishment to balance out the horror of some crimes.


    So Your Arguement is that (5.00 / 2) (#18)
    by john horse on Sat Apr 24, 2010 at 12:50:59 PM EST
    humans are basically "inhumane" and therefore, our institutions, including our justice system, should be reflective of our inhumane nature.  I think human nature changes.  Things that were once acceptable no longer become accepted.  A belief in vengeance has become replaced in a belief in justice.  They are not the same thing.

    Regarding the use of the death penalty in China, let me point out that I do not consider China to be a democratic country.  With the exception of the US, the death penalty is no longer used in democratic countries. It is still used in some authoritarian countries.  I don't think thats much of a selling point for the death penalty.  


    justice is just an arbitrary scale of ... (none / 0) (#29)
    by nyrias on Sat Apr 24, 2010 at 10:02:08 PM EST

    May as well accede to what people want. If enough people think that execution is "justice", it is justice whether it stemmed from a need of vengeance.

    Let's not be hypocrites. The only reason why some people may feel DP is not "just" is because the victims are remote from them.

    If YOUR son & daughter is the one who got brutally murder, i have a feeling that your logic reasoning will all go out the window.


    Give The People What They Want? (none / 0) (#32)
    by john horse on Sun Apr 25, 2010 at 04:25:58 PM EST
    Per your comments, you say that the death penalty is both "arbitrary" and "inhumane".  Interestingly enough, these are ofen the arguements for getting rid of the death penalty.

    As far as the death penalty being what "people want",  instead of conforming to the crowd shouldn't we think for ourselves.  If the majority of people don't agree, so what?  

    Yes, I am against the death penalty because of my "logic reasoning". Yes I think laws should be based on rational thought.  Whats the alternative?


    One of Them Must Pay (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by john horse on Sat Apr 24, 2010 at 01:03:07 PM EST
    I remember a case in Florida involving a store owner who was killed in a robbery attempt.  Almost all the evidence against the accused was the eyewitness testimony of the store owner's wife who was there.

    A preacher who called on the wife reported that she said something to the effect that "one of them (meaning an African American) killed my husband so one of them had to pay."  Now is that what you mean by vengeance?


    I'd be all in favor of firing squads... (none / 0) (#1)
    by NealB on Fri Apr 23, 2010 at 11:54:01 PM EST
    ...if it were the mandatory death penalty for pro-death lawyers, judges, and legislators. Does that make me a hypocrite?

    If I were up (none / 0) (#3)
    by Makarov on Sat Apr 24, 2010 at 12:25:46 AM EST
    for the death penalty, I would take firing squad hands down.

    To me, lethal injection - strapped down to a table, injected with drugs - is a more horrible, more de-humanizing way to die.

    Until we're enlightened enough to do away with capital punishment, I have no problem with giving the condemned a choice in how they want to die. In fact, it's a pity more states don't do this.

    I think I'm with you Mak... (none / 0) (#7)
    by kdog on Sat Apr 24, 2010 at 10:06:05 AM EST
    the firing squad is cruel and inhumane of course, but no more or less so than other execution styles like lethal injection , gas, the chair, hanging, guillotine.  

    Lethal injection is particularly heinous because it attempts to sanitize the taking of a life...make it appear like some kind of "painless" medical procedure or something.  A cowardly attempt to make us all feel "civilized" about state-sponsored legal murder, imo.

    If we're gonna do it at all, we should do it in a way that makes us feel the most sting to our  souls...like say stoning.  Say what we will about societies that still stone to death, but they ain't cowards...they get their hands and consciences dirty when they kill in the name of "the law".


    I'm Totally With You (none / 0) (#28)
    by kaleidescope on Sat Apr 24, 2010 at 09:31:59 PM EST
    I hope when I die I'm aware of what is happening and can experience my death with a clear mind, if only for a short time.

    Who wants to be drugged and out of your mind when you face one of the most important things that ever happens to you?


    Jon Krakauer's (none / 0) (#5)
    by oculus on Sat Apr 24, 2010 at 08:38:28 AM EST
    "Under the Banner of Heaven" begins with a detailed description of Gardner's murdering a woman and her young daughter, who was in her crib. Mother was vocally opposed to polygamy. Real quation whether Gardner was innocent by reason of insanity. Good book. Chilling story.

    was he insane when he tried to escape? (none / 0) (#10)
    by diogenes on Sat Apr 24, 2010 at 10:50:06 AM EST
    He was insane when he killed someone while escaping?  Did voices from Mars command him to do it?  Please.

    Did you think (none / 0) (#25)
    by jondee on Sat Apr 24, 2010 at 08:10:40 PM EST
    you were the only one who heard voices from the (very) Angry Red Planet, Diogenes?

    Firing Squads Are for Wimps ? (none / 0) (#12)
    by dunkley on Sat Apr 24, 2010 at 12:02:47 PM EST
    I wonder what you would feel like standing in front of one ?? i thank god every day i live in a country where our government does not kill its own citizens. I know a death row inmate in Utah State Prison Troy Kell i was at Utah State Prison last year he has many Christian friends here in the United Kingdom where we teach forgiveness and compassion, some thing we value. Thankyou Jeralyn for your article on Troy.
    uk. Dame  

    I Agree (none / 0) (#15)
    by john horse on Sat Apr 24, 2010 at 12:26:29 PM EST
    I think you misunderstood the point I was trying to make.  I'm actually on your side.

    replying to john horse. 28th April 2010 (none / 0) (#33)
    by dunkley on Wed Apr 28, 2010 at 03:19:37 PM EST
    i am sorry i misunderstood your comment please forgive me this is a subject we feel very strongly about. Your country is so beautiful in so many ways its sad to see this blot on it.My Lawyer in Salt Lake tells me the death penalty is insane and life without parole is punishment enough. What are your thoughts on this ?
    Eileen United Kingdom.

    Nah .. forgiveness is for wimps (none / 0) (#13)
    by nyrias on Sat Apr 24, 2010 at 12:18:50 PM EST
    As long as we are executing the murderers, we may as well do it in whatever fashion that they want.

    It is not like we are going to execute an innocent guy this time.

    So Its Either Execute or "Forgive" (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by john horse on Sat Apr 24, 2010 at 12:36:26 PM EST
    and there is nothing in between the two?  Give me a break.

    Incarceration, including life in prison, is not forgiveness.  I think criminals should pay for their crimes.  I just don't think they should have to pay with their life.


    so you think ... (none / 0) (#30)
    by nyrias on Sat Apr 24, 2010 at 10:03:27 PM EST
    differently than many Americans.

    They are criminals. May as well make them pay more for it. At least we are not torturing them first, unlike some Middle East countries.


    executions (none / 0) (#20)
    by par4 on Sat Apr 24, 2010 at 01:35:42 PM EST
    Rope is cheaper,reusable and promotes fiscal responsibility. This country needs to use miles of it.

    Yes (none / 0) (#21)
    by squeaky on Sat Apr 24, 2010 at 01:53:34 PM EST
    Given even a small bit of it some commenters, like you, choose to hang themselves..

    When Jamie Dimon (none / 0) (#23)
    by NYShooter on Sat Apr 24, 2010 at 04:51:37 PM EST
    has his forearm swabbed while resting involuntarily on a State-owned gurney, and as he cries out for mercy for causing countless deaths stemming from the inhumane actions he and his Oligarch thugs foisted on his fellow Americans, I may reconsider my anti-death penalty position.

    Ummm.... (none / 0) (#24)
    by Upstart Crow on Sat Apr 24, 2010 at 05:25:35 PM EST
    OK, if you oppose the death penalty ... has anyone here commented on this: U.S. Approves Targeted Killing of American Cleric.

    (I can't get the link mechanism here to work properly, so let me try the old fashioned way:

    While, frankly, my heart doesn't bleed for Anwar Al-Awlaki, my heart bleeding or not isn't the way we evaluate a principle.

    Presumably this particular U.S. citizen will get no trial, and no right to choose firing squad or lethal injection.

    Yeah (none / 0) (#31)
    by squeaky on Sat Apr 24, 2010 at 10:10:32 PM EST
    this particular U.S. citizen will get no trial, and no right to choose firing squad or lethal injection.

    Same went for OBL. Good thing we got to spare the expensive trial.