Firing squad bill passes the Utah House

SALT LAKE CITY – Legislation regarding execution by firing squad narrowly passed the Utah House of Representatives Friday after the bill’s author used a legislative rule that worked in his favor.

The Utah House passed House Bill 11, Friday, in a 39-34 vote, with 2 not voting, after it nearly stalled due to a tie 35-35 vote. The tie was broken after the bill’s author, Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, issued a “call to the House” that gathered all present representatives to the House floor for a new vote.

“First of all, this bill is not a debate on whether or not we have the death penalty …,”  Ray said to the House on the floor prior to the debate and vote. “The state of Utah has adopted a death penalty and in doing so we have to have a means in which to carry it out.”

Ray’s bill would enable the state to use a firing squad as an alternative to lethal injection if the drug cocktail needed for an execution is not available 30 or more days prior to the date specified on a death warrant.

The drug cocktail needed for lethal injection has come into short supply as the European drug companies that previously sold the drugs to states now refuse to as an objection to capital punishment.

Ray said some other states have resorted to mixing their own drug cocktails that have resulted in botched executions. In one instance it took a prisoner over an hour to die after being injected with the state-mixed injection.

Under current state law, if lethal injection were eventually declared unconstitutional, the firing squad would be reinstated as the state’s primary means of execution.

“I refuse to vote ‘yes’ on a bill that gives a tool to carry out the death penalty,” Rep. Sandra Hollins, D-Salt Lake City, said. The death penalty disproportionately affects people along racial and socioeconomic lines, she said.

Another lawmaker, Rep. Brian King, D-Draper, described in step-by-step detail how an inmate is prepared for, and subsequently executed by the firing squad. He also said those involved in the firing squad will have to deal with attending psychological trauma of “participating in a cold blooded execution – some would say ‘murder’ – or a possible failed attempt.”

King also said it costs more to perform an execution and that the cost is higher than incarcerating a prisoner for life.

Ray and other representatives said during the debate in opposition to the death penalty the the death penalty itself isn’t the topic at hand, but rather the methods used to carry it out. Anything other than that topic was not germane to the discussion, they said.

After a vote was called, the bill was locked in a tie of 35 in favor and 35 against. At this point, Ray issued a “call of the house,” which called all representatives present and available to vote on the bill, at which point the bill passed.

The bill now moves to the state Senate for consideration.

Ed. note:  From Southern Utah, Reps. Brad Last, Don Ipson, Michael Noel, and John Westwood voted in favor of the bill; Reps.  V. Lowry Snow and Jon Stanard voted against the bill; and Rep. Merrill Nelson did not vote on the bill.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

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26 Comments

  • Curtis February 15, 2015 at 8:36 am

    Cool !!
    How about making it public ??
    Maybe a little music from The Good The Bad and The Ugly in the background ??

  • laytonian February 15, 2015 at 9:15 am

    Paul Ray and Curtis Oda just want MORE REASONS TO USE GUNS….and the firing squad will make us look even more like the backwater we are.
    Besides the fact that the death penalty does nothing to stop crime, its application is not fairly applied and many people have been found innocent after the fact.

    IF you all want blood atonement, let’s do this:
    1 – ALL executions must be streamed, live, on television. Make the public see what they support.
    2 – Firing squad? That’s only for squishies! Let’s go back to the guillotine which is cleaner, neater and works more quickly. Of course, those executions must be televised.

  • Paul February 15, 2015 at 9:35 am

    Great point Laytonian. Found it bazaar that the cost of an execution is more costly than incarcerating for life. Nice report Mori.

  • Simone February 15, 2015 at 12:28 pm

    Republican Logic: Firing squads are A-ok but a penniless rape survivor getting an abortion so she doesnt have to raise a child she never wanted, cant afford and doesnt want to raise in poverty without the benefit of two parents is sinful and therefore should not only be illegal but condemn the woman to hell for eternity just for considering the notion.

    • tcrider February 17, 2015 at 10:49 am

      wow, you sound like you must be from bundies ranch.

      • makkie March 4, 2015 at 5:22 am

        And you sound like you are from a holler in west virginia somewhere .Go tune your banjo and brush your tooth.

    • makkie March 4, 2015 at 5:19 am

      Democrat logic-Killing babies is A-ok but don’t you dare sentence to death a merciless murderer.Abortion is not a means of birth control.You don’t want to get pregnant?Keep your legs shut.Murder is murder lady.You can convince yourself of anything you want and brand it with some pathetic political connotation all you want.Do you blame the republicans when your car won’t start?When your hemmorhoids flare up?

  • anybody home February 15, 2015 at 5:17 pm

    Life and hard labor with no possibility of parole.

  • mmmbacon February 15, 2015 at 9:19 pm

    A firing squad might be better than the electric chair. Sounds like the method of execution turned into a debate of whether you approve or disapprove of the death penalty.

  • Mesaizacd February 15, 2015 at 9:24 pm

    Just shoot em and get it over with

  • Billy Madison February 16, 2015 at 9:21 am

    I don’t know why lethal drugs are so hard to get. Junkies find them on the streets everywhere. This very news outlet has people every day who either have some or know where to get it.

    • Mesaizacd February 16, 2015 at 9:53 am

      Oh wow cry baby Madison you going to cry again about our comments not being deleted and censored because you think your the only one entitled to an opinion.? FYI. This is St George news not your personal website..

    • Mesaizacd February 16, 2015 at 9:55 am

      LOL.! So what’s the point of your idiotic opinion.? LOL.!

    • sagemoon February 17, 2015 at 10:12 am

      Hmm, you’ve got an idea there. A heroin overdose might be a merciful way to die if you’ve been given the death penalty.

    • dudleysharp February 19, 2015 at 3:28 am

      Billy:

      The drug manufacturers have banned the best drugs for use in human executions.

      States cannot use illegal heroin or other illegal substances, obviously.

  • Bill February 16, 2015 at 11:19 pm

    Killing is morally wrong. Period. It doesn’t matter how it’s done, why it’s done, or who does it. When the state does it, a stamp of approval is given to killing that paints our nation as barbaric among all the modern nations that long ago stopped it. Those nations will not extradite criminals to the U.S. or sell us pharmaceutical drugs for lethal injections. We lose the moral high ground from which we love to lecture the world on human rights.

    • sagemoon February 17, 2015 at 11:27 am

      I very much agree with you, Bill.

    • Mesaizacd February 17, 2015 at 10:41 pm

      Killing is not morally wrong go ask the patients in military hospitals that put their life on the line to protect your freedoms

    • dudleysharp February 19, 2015 at 3:26 am

      Killing an just aggressor in self defense or defense of others or in war is morally required when necessary.

      Seeking the death penalty is based within justice, as with all sanctions.

  • dudleysharp February 19, 2015 at 3:21 am

    None of the firing squad problems.

    Nitrogen Gas; Flawless, peaceful, unrestricted method of execution
    Dudley Sharp

    “(Dr. Phillip) Nitschke called (nitrogen gas hypoxia) “flawless” . . . Inhaling the pure nitrogen, patients lose consciousness immediately (in approximately 12 seconds) and die a few minutes later.” “. . . extremely quick . . . no drugs . . . reliable, peaceful, available . . . ” (1).

    No panic nor suffocation effect with nitrogen.

    “Close contact with an enclosed inert gas (as nitrogen) is lethal because it flushes oxygen from the body, but released into the open air, it quickly disperses, and is safe for others.” (2)

    A sealed gas chamber is not required – just an oxygen mask and a secured prisoner.

    1)”Exit International’s euthanasia device”, Euthanasia device, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euthanasia_device#Exit_International.27s_euthanasia_device, viewed/copied 3/13/2104.

    2) “Inert gas asphyxiation”, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inert_gas_asphyxiation, viewed/copied 3/13/2014

    also

    International Humanitarian Hypoxia Project

    Is There A More Humane Way To Kill?, Lawrence Gist II, 6/22/09
    http://express-press-release.net/62/Is%20There%20A%20More%20Humane%20Way%20To%20Kill.php

    Creque, S.A. “Killing with kindness – capital punishment by nitrogen asphyxiation” National Review. 1995-9-11.

  • dudleysharp February 19, 2015 at 3:35 am

    Rep. Ray is in error.

    The states do not make their own LI drugs.

    Pharmacies do it for them.

    Texas’s one drug protocol works fine.

  • dudleysharp February 19, 2015 at 3:37 am

    Rep. Hollins:

    Reconsider:

    RACE & THE DEATH PENALTY: A REBUTTAL TO THE RACISM CLAIMS

    http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2012/07/rebuttal-death-penalty-racism-claims.html

    “There is no race of the offender / victim effect at either the decision to advance a case to penalty hearing or the decision to sentence a defendant to death given a penalty hearing.”

    “As blacks represent 47% of murderers and whites 37%, we see that whites are twice as likely to be executed for committing murder as are their black counterparts.”

    Is There Class Disparity with Executions?

    http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2013/03/is-there-class-disparity-with-executions.html

    “99.8% of poor murderers have avoided execution.

    It may be, solely, dependent upon the definition of “wealthy” and “ppor”, as to whether wealthy murderers are any more or less likely to be executed, based upon the very small number and percentage of capital murders that are committed by the wealthy, as compared to the poor”

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