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Utah Lawmakers OK Firing Squad If Lethal Injection Unavailable

Utah's Senate has approved a measure that would allow a firing squad to carry out the death penalty if the drug to carry out lethal injections is unavailable.

The vote was 18-10, and it's unclear if Republican Gov. Gary Herbert will sign the measure, which would make Utah the only state in the nation to allow firing squads, into law. The state abandoned the practice a little more than a decade ago.

As we have previously reported, several states "have struggled to adjust to new combinations of execution drugs after manufacturers, under pressure from critics of capital punishment, ceased providing states with drugs they had long used. States have also refused to reveal the names of their suppliers because they say doing so would jeopardize their relationships with them."

Republican Rep. Paul Ray, the measure's sponsor, says firing squads are a more humane form of execution. Opponents disagree.

The Associated Press adds:

"Utah is one of several states to seek out new forms of capital punishment after a botched Oklahoma lethal injection last year and one in Arizona that took nearly two hours for the condemned man to die. Legislation to allow firing squads has been introduced in Arkansas this year. In Wyoming, a measure to allow firing squads if the lethal drugs aren't available died. In Oklahoma, lawmakers are considering legislation that would allow the state to use nitrogen gas to execute inmates."

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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