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Bill To Allow Execution By Firing Squad Advances In Utah

Utah's GOP-controlled House of Representatives narrowly approved a proposal to bring back the state's use of firing squads for executions, but the measure faces an uncertain reception in the Senate.

The 39-34 vote Friday came as missing lawmakers were rounded up to break a deadlock. The firing squad was discontinued in 2004.

The Associated Press says leaders in the Republican-controlled Senate won't say whether they will support the measure and Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, also a Republican, has not said if he will sign it.

The legislation would modify the Utah Criminal Code to allow the use of a firing squad if the state cannot lawfully obtain the drugs needed to carry out an execution by lethal injection.

As we have reported, manufacturers of the drugs used in lethal injection executions, under increasing pressure from critics of the practice, have ceased making the toxic chemicals.

The AP notes that Rep. Paul Ray, a Republican from Clearfield who is sponsoring the measure, "argues that a team of trained marksmen is faster and more humane than the drawn-out deaths that have occurred in botched lethal injections."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.

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