Leave it to Rep. Paul Ray, a Republican from Clearfield, to confirm Utah's global leadership as the go-to place for outside-the-box, if retrograde, execution innovation.
If you’re new to the dance, Utah used to give condemned prisoners a small-but-tasty smorgasbord of death options that included massive organ trauma from five high-velocity .30 cal. bullets or a broken neck at the end of a rope.
Utah squeamishly eliminated the firing-squad choice in 2004 on the basis that any civilized society outside of Pakistan’s tribal region would consider it cruel-and-unusual punishment.
Ray disagrees: "There's no easy way to put somebody to death, but you need to be efficient and effective about it. This is certainly one way to do that. The prisoner dies instantly. It sounds draconian. It sounds really bad, but the minute the bullet hits your heart, you're dead. There's no suffering."
Apparently, Ray didn’t do his homework on executions. Firing squads are obviously hit or miss (excuse the pun). Why else do we have the common phrase coup de grace? It refers to the bullet to to the head the captain of the firing square administers to mercifully end the victim's suffering.
It’s just about time for Rep. Curt Oda of Roy (who once introduced legislation to allow shooting, clubbing, drowning and decapitation of stray pets) to step up with the epitome in execution efficiency: the guillotine. Bonus: It’s got a low carbon footprint.
Even better idea: Utah could defray the enormous costs of executing a death-row prisoner through a landmark government-citizen partnership: Sell the positions on the firing squad!
Ghoulish? Perhaps. But Utah sold a permit to a trophy hunter last year to shoot an mule deer on Antelope Island for $310,000. Think what a rich sportsman would pay to be one of five riflepersons to legally snuff a fellow human being?
Here's what the target, pinned to Gary Gilmore's chest, looks like: